She has never been one to pick the easy path, but Sgt. 1st Class Stacey McDerman is following in the footsteps of great women warriors and wants to be the same sort of strong role model to tomorrow’s female Soldiers.
McDerman is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
In her 15 years serving in the Army, McDerman has earned numerous awards and distinctions, from being the Iron Drill Sergeant awardee at Drill Sergeants School to being inducted into the prestigious Sgt. Audie Murphy Club in May 2019 while deployed to Iraq.
“It was one of my crowning achievements,” McDerman said. “It’s a prestigious leadership club, so it recognizes the best of the best leaders in the Army. Especially doing it while deployed, that was the most difficult part because you’re working seven days a week and on 12-hour shifts and you still had to study on top of that.”
McDerman’s combat tours include an 11-month deployment to Iraq in support of Opera “Knowing where everyone is within the battle space can prevent a lot of mishaps because you have concurrent operations going on with coalition members, Armed Forces, as well as the Iraqi Security Force. Making sure none of it conflicts is very important,” McDerman said.
Fitness and the future
Physical fitness is important to McDerman. As 1st BCT’s master fitness trainer, she is overseeing the Army Combat Fitness Test program for the entire brigade. She meets with battalion representatives to make sure everyone will be ready for the new ACFT coming up in October.
“We have initiated different certification programs in order to grade and conduct the ACFT,” McDerman said.
One grader is required for every four Soldiers and one NCOIC is needed for each site, so she must work with battalion representatives to ensure there will be enough people to conduct the diagnostic ACFT required by the Army prior to 2021.
Working her way up
Growing up in Jamaica, McDerman considered herself a bit of a “tomboy” and said she was drawn to the discipline she saw in Soldiers on television. She moved to Miami, Florida, with her father at the age of 16 and joined the Army right out of high school though her options were limited because she was not yet a U.S. citizen.
McDerman said she wanted to join infantry, but she was limited to culinary specialist, truck driver and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist.
Over the years, her job duties have changed.
“I’ve worked through the different levels,” McDerman said. “I’ve been part of a decontamination team, I’ve been part of a reconnaissance team and I’ve also been part of technical escort team and they all do different things at different levels.”
She’s now the assigned brigade CBRN NCOIC. She advises her sergeant major on how to assign new personnel based on their experience.
“I am also responsible for overall training for the entire brigade to ensure that if there is ever the circumstance that we are in a chemical environment all the Soldiers are prepared to not only fight but survive in that environment,” McDerman said.
McDerman plans to stay in the Army “for the long haul.” Her short-term goals include getting a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and reaching the rank of master sergeant. For the long-term she hopes to become a command sergeant major.
McDerman said the Army has given her many opportunities and she owes it to the women who came before her to be a strong leader.
“I don’t necessarily consider myself a female in the Army, I consider myself a Soldier in the Army and that’s how I’ve moved through my entire career,” she said. “For me I don’t just want to live up to female standards in the Army, I want to live up to the regular Soldier standard in the Army.”