Tawnya Horton is an officer in the U.S. Military stationed overseas. She has spent significant portions of the last two decades stationed in Asia and Europe as part of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. She has held jobs ranging from the tactical infantry (Stryker brigade), to the operational satellite communications, up to joint strategic level. She currently works with foreign partners in Europe to develop and maintain communications interoperability – while balancing life as a military spouse. Besides being an incredible woman, she is also my cousin.
Q: Tell me about moving around and the work you do with the military. What are some of your favorite places? Where do you feel most at home?
TH: Moving around is a skill I’ve honed over the last 14 years I’ve been with the military. I have also discovered it’s a marketable skill, as one of my graduate professors stated, “90% of ex-pats sent overseas can’t hack it, and resign their job to move home.”
You give up a lot of the luxuries in life i.e. remaining in the same area for a long period of time and seeing your family on holidays. When you’re stationed in different parts of the world you learn to accept what is around you and appreciate what is available in different cultures. As with anything in life there are no absolutes so every place has its advantages and disadvantages. I wouldn’t trade this military life for anything!
Q: How do you make time for yourself? What gives you balance?
TH: Yoga of course. I love that my husband, Sean, has demanded we go to hot yoga three times a week. It makes it easier to make it when we’re both committed to blocking that time out.
Q: What is something that the world should know? Maybe the best piece of advice that you ever received or the message you have for others.
TH: I feel like it’s not my place to tell people what they should know. However, one of the principles I live by is best summed up by Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, in his TED talk: https://www.ted.com/speakers/br_david_steindl_rast
“If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.” It has proven to be an immensely successful credo, even in the military. I don’t just treat my peers and subordinates with respect; it’s amazing how my leaders appreciate being treated as a normal person too!
Q: Who is your role model and why?
TH: I have two – my Mom and Colonel Steve Elle. My mom is because she taught me to fight for women in the work place. COL Elle because he has shown me how to be a good leader and a mentor. I hope I can do the same for others in the future.
Q: What is it like being in the military?
TH: I LOVE my job; I work with the Finnish, Swedish and Austrian Defence forces, and other NATO nations, who want to be interoperable with the U.S. Meaning their radios, on the ground, in the air, or at sea, can communicate with those of the U.S. and U.S. coalitions. The enjoyable part is actually being able to make a tangible difference in enabling our coalition partners the ability to fight along side of us. It’s a pretty big deal knowing when they fire a rocket or fly an airplane along side of us – they are able to have situational awareness of all the other troops (US or otherwise) on the ground and contributed to the coalition team.
I think in the large scheme of things I provide a service to this country as anyone else does. I have signed up to defend our nation and have been honoring that commitment since. At some point I will transition back to what people call “the normal life” and continue to support our nation through other means.