Jill of all trades: A story of Women's History Month

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Hanson
  • 132d Wing Public Affairs

 In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month, highlighting the outstanding achievements of women throughout our military and the sacrifices they make for family, our country and our society.

Airman First Class Debra Herold, a command post controller at the 132d Wing, has drawn from her life experiences and enjoys the variety of activities that have helped shape her into the woman she is today. Herold is a wife, mother, nursing director at the University of Iowa, volleyball coach, manages a hobby farm, and is currently working on her doctorate in nursing administration.

“Sometimes, when you have a lot to do, you prioritize better because you don’t have down time,” said Herold.

Their family has a hobby farm near Solon, Iowa with horses, cattle, chickens, goats, and turkeys. “We call it the Herald Petting Zoo,” she said.

She balances work, school, and home in addition to serving in the Iowa Air National Guard. She has two daughters, ages 10 and 12, that stay busy with 4-H and sports. Her husband, a former NFL player, works in insurance and has always been supportive of the extracurricular endeavors they take on as a family, she said.

“Communication is key,” said Herold. “Especially with transporting our kids’ for their activities, what needs to be done on the farm and in the house.”

She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry at the University of Nebraska Omaha, studied environmental toxicology research, and went on to finish her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Iowa in 2009.

Currently, her full time job is as a Nursing Director for the University of Iowa, where she oversees 45 offsite clinics that are located all over the state of Iowa. Her traveling can take her anywhere between the Mississippi River and Missouri River.

“I make fun that my office is in my backpack,” said Herold.

Herold, who enlisted at the Wing in May 2022, said that joining the military was something she wanted to do after high school, but decided against it when she was offered a full scholarship to run track in college. After graduation, she considered joining again, but the timing was not right for her family.

Herold thought she had missed her chance. But when a friend who had just re-enlisted visited, she found that the age limit was 39, and it was not too late. The encouragement at that time led her to finally enlist.

“It was now or never, and I did it,” she said. “Everyone, my husband and family were supportive.”

During her training experiences, Herold was able to draw from her wide range of life experiences and be a mentor to the younger airmen, finishing training in June of 2023.

“I actually found a lot of joy in that,” she said. “And tech school was fun too, because I’ve been through a lot of colleges.”

Herold said that she chose to enlist in a job outside of the medical field, so she could learn something different. As a command post controller, her role deals with trainings, emergency management preparedness and system function checks, among other duties.

“I wanted to grow,” said Herold. “I’ve learned a lot about a different career field and the opportunities that the military provides.”

Her experiences have proved helpful as she has brought some of her civilian world optimization tools to her role at the Wing. She said that she has no regrets about joining when she did, as opposed to earlier in life.

“I do believe that everything happens for a reason,” said Herold. “I’m just grateful that I had the opportunity to.”