FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK, Afghanistan, March 25, 2013 - A signal support system specialist assigned to 3rd Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is serving in Afghanistan after an opportunity was presented that she couldn't pass up.
Army Spc. Takisha S. Brock, 40, a Brock, a Washington, N.C., native, said she always wanted to serve because three of her cousins served during Desert Storm.
After graduating from high school, Brock said, she planned to attend Queens University in North Carolina on an athletic scholarship. But her plans soon changed, as months later she had a son. She quickly went from studying, to being a mom and working.
Brock, who grew up as the eldest child with her three brothers, said her family always has shown her love and support in everything she's done -- especially her parents.
"I admire my mother, because she raised me to be a strong woman," she said. That strength, she added, has helped her raise her son, Dimetrio, who has autism and requires special care. It takes a lot of patience and adaptation to meet the challenges, she said.
As a single mom, Brock raised her son while she worked two jobs and went to college. She earned a bachelor's degree in health care management and obtained two associate degrees.
As time passed, and while working two jobs in medical administration, she said, the idea of serving her country didn't seem to be in the cards. But one day, while she was at a grocery store, an Army recruiter approached her, thinking she was younger, Brock said.
After talking to the recruiter, Brock, then 38, realized her opportunity to serve was still available. The waiting time to come in as an officer was 18 months, she said, and if she didn't take the opportunity then, she wouldn't be in the Army now, due to the Army's maximum age of enlistment.
In October 2010, Brock enlisted in the Army. She completed basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and advanced individual training at Fort Gordon, Ga., home of the Army Signal Corps.
Her first permanent duty station was with the Vanguard Brigade out of Fort Stewart, Ga., where she earned the Army Achievement Medal after her performance during the brigade's field exercise before their deployment. She then was selected to deploy early to help with the transition and set up communication systems in support of the brigade's mission with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
"I thought of her immediately to come over here and get us set up and established," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert J. Allen, the brigade's signal systems chief. "When I got here, everything was set up and running, and there weren't any issues. She is reliable, and she's dependable."
Although her military career is bright, Brock said, she faced some physical challenges at age 38.
"I wish I would have enlisted 10 years earlier," she said, but she added that her earlier struggles helped her adapt. "You have to adapt. You are constantly meeting challenges and things that you have to ... overcome," she said.
Being deployed, she now deals with a bigger challenge: being away from her son for nine months. Now that her son is older, and with the support of her family in North Carolina, she said, she is able to serve. It also helps, she added, that she works with a good team that is supportive.
"I've learned a lot about myself as a person," she said. People have always told me that I have a strong character because of the things I've encountered in my life."
Brock is responsible for providing combat network radio support to the Vanguard Brigade, which allows the brigade operations center to securely communicate with any subordinate unit. She also maintains the equipment to ensure it stays functional.
Brock said she plans to re-enlist and work on her master's degree in business organization and business management.