History was made today (October 17th, 2010). Read on for more.
When you think of a military commander perhaps a burly, loud, stern individual would come to mind. However, the Colorado Army National Guard (COARNG) is much wiser than falling for that. Instead they seek out their finest leaders; the ones that know people, appreciate others for their talents and hard work and above all recognize the rare individual that can make even the most dangerous, frightening or threatening situation turn to organized calm. At least that is what can be said for our COARNG in their decision to select Colonel (as of this interview) Dana M. Capozzella, who just incidentally happens to be the first woman Brigadier General in Colorado, as the commander for the Army National Guard for the state of Colorado.*
She is responsible for policy, administration, deploying and re-deploying soldiers for the entire state, but she sees another role as just as important and that is to support and prepare individuals, their families and employers through deployment and while serving.
Capozzella is responsible to both the Governor of Colorado at the state level as well as to the President of the United States at a federal level. “When something occurs where the COARNG can assist it’s my job to make sure we do it right.” Past situations where the COARNG stepped up to help citizens include assisting the residents of Alamosa when their water became tainted, aiding stranded drivers during storms, helping after tornado strikes, rescuing hikers from dangerous mountain areas and most recently aided in the Boulder fire fight.
When Capozzella is not in uniform she is working at Cascade Investment Group as Partner, Manager and Compliance Officer. Cascade is only one of the countless businesses and organizations that support the COARNG by permitting their employees to serve, which includes being absent from the office on a regular basis. “Without their support, the COARNG would not be able to operate as it does.”
The COARNG focuses on several specific responsibilities, they include: Special Forces, Infantry, Field Artillery, Aviation, Military Police, Space, Medical, Public Affairs, Military Intelligence, Military Band, Engineer, Maintenance, Firefighting.
Capozzella is proud of her 23 plus years of serving in the military. “We have accomplished so much over the years and we serve Colorado proudly.” One of their accomplishments has been to turn the former collection of Armories across Colorado into Readiness Centers. “We are building Readiness Centers, thanks to the Veterans and our Legislature that work with us. Not only is this preparation that will help in future problem times but it also has created growth and jobs.”
The Colonel was asked “What is the best way to support our National Guard?” She smiled, perhaps because the answer was so vividly clear in her mind, “By having family, friends and neighbors support our members. If anything goes wrong in our state, and now overseas, it affects not only our soldiers but their families and employers.
“As commander I’m responsible and very protective to care for the basic needs of not only our soldiers but also their families and employers. It is our duty to be honest and upfront with them, for instance, letting them know at the earliest opportunity of deployment dates. Also, we have to educate employers; do they fully understand that it is our mission to support the state of Colorado?”
Capozzella spoke of the fact that the COARNG grants state tuition for college-bound members. “I was in ROTC,” she said. “I was educated through the military. I applied to both the Army and Air Force because they allowed me to study psychology,” something that has served her well in her current position. She earned her degree with honors and was a distinguished military graduate. “I always thought I would go on with psychology but once I became active I found I could be a mother, work full-time and remain in the Reserves; I could do all three.”
The National Guard also has allowed Capozzella to travel around the world including as a part of a veterinary unit to Panama and later to serve on a medical mission that included basic medical/optometry/dental and Engineering projects in Honduras and Nicaragua. “There were no windows, no doors and dirt floors,” she said recalling the mission. But it is more common to remain in Colorado. “We had a mission that helped with the Fruita Dam in western Colorado. We used it as part of our annual training but it also felt good for our soldiers to help a local community.”
Well into the interview the Colonel had to be directly asked to address the fact, the honor, that she is the first woman to serve as the COARNG’s first Brigadier General. She humbly answered each prying question. “I am intensely grateful to Ret. Brigadier General Thomas Mills for selecting me for this command. He put my name in for the certificate of eligibility. I never had that expectation,” she stated. “I’m thrilled. I’ve always prepared for every possibility,” something that she has told her three children to do as well. “The ultimate goal is to command; it’s the hardest but most rewarding job.” She adds humbly, “There are a lot of great women following me; the pressure is to not let them down.”
Where Col. Capozzella is slow to bring attention to herself she is quick to note that “my husband and children are very proud and supportive of me. I’ve been serving in the military for over 23 years and I could have retired after 20; their support has enabled me to be here today.”
Sitting on a shelf in Capozzella’s office is a sign that her current civilian boss gave her. It sums up perfectly the Brigadier General of our COARNG and can put each citizen at a comfortable ease. It reads, “Of Course I Don’t Look Busy, I Did It Right the First Time.”
What has been your biggest challenge in life so far? in your job? |
The largest challenge is the same as most working parents – balancing work and family time. The addition of the commitment to the National Guard is one that not only the service member makes but the family as well. That is my largest challenge and the same for almost all Guardsmen and women.
Your greatest accomplishment?
This isn’t really “MY” accomplishment – but the fact that my husband and I are fortunate to have 3 healthy, great kids.
What do you do with any "leisure time" you have?
I love reading. Plus as a family we like to ski, travel, hike, camp and hang out with friends and family.
Who is the most interesting person you have ever met and why?
There isn’t just one person. I find everyone interesting when I have an opportunity to really sit down and chat with them. You never know what you find out about a person until you start talking to them about their interests, hopes and desires.
Who are your hero’s?
My parents. I realize that my brothers and I are truly fortunate. They have been excellent role models and we had idyllic childhoods.
What is something that was instilled in you from the time you were young?
I was taught to always try to do my very best in all things.
Do you have a favorite quote, saying or motto that has helped guide you through life?
Respect – to always treat others in the manner I would wish to be treated.
In any of your global travels, what country, city, place has intrigued you the most?
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
Traveling with my husband after we retire and visiting our children’s’ future families.
How do you want to be remembered by future generations?
As a fair, consistent, and approachable person.
What kind of formal events do you like to attend? (this may show my ignorance of not knowing what types of events the military usually produces)
I like them all.
If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part?
Audrey Hepburn – but alas she was before my time. A current actress – Sandra Bullock.
Do you have any pets?
2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 geckos.
When you move, what will your home tell its next owner about you?
That I am very sociable and like to entertain family and friends.
What word describes you best?
What was your first job?
Milking dairy cows for a local farmer for $1.00 hour when I was in 6th grade.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
A “Victim” attitude. I admire the survivors
What is your greatest indulgence?
What is your current state of mind?
Excited for the future and possibilities!
I read pretty much anything. I have eclectic taste. Although I do prefer books that end happily.
As civilians, what’s the best way to show our support for the military?
By encouraging your family members to join.