A Blur from My Experience

While we constantly tell the story, “From Civilian to Soldier,” it’s rare that we have the opportunity to show the Army perspective, “From a Soldier to a Civilian.” Today’s guest blog post is from Ms. Candateshia “Candy” Pafford, Department of the Army Intern,  and she explains the difficulties of telling the Army’s Story as a Soldier and as a Civilian.

Telling the Army’s story varies depending on the perspective of the storyteller. I am fortunate in that I have three perspectives to share. My perspectives stem from that of a Soldier, a Civilian, and now a federal employee. I often find myself having a three-way inner monologue to help me tell the Army’s story. I am a Department of the Army Public Affairs Intern and this is a blur of my experience.

The Department of the Army Emblem

Communication has always meant more to me than just talking, although I have never been able to express this thought effectively until now.  I talk. I talk a lot because this is the fastest way for me to communicate.  My internship with the Department of the Army Public Affairs helped me learn different ways to communicate verbally and non-verbally. Since my university days and learning about the communication model, I knew right away that understanding the communication process is important in relaying messages. Being a DA Intern helped me realize how well the message is given and received is the most important part of telling another’s story.  Each message will impact people differently.

My first assignment as a DA Intern was to write an article for the post newspaper to help tell a Soldier’s story. I thought it would be easy, since I had a degree in mass communications. I always thought I was a good writer and therefore I felt I could communicate another’s story well, but to effectively tell someone else’s story proved to be challenging. Sure, it was easy to regurgitate word for word the answers of an interview. I learned that in order for me to share another’s story effectively, it had to have an impact on the surrounding community. To do this, I was taught how to listen and clearly state an overall message.

For a year, I trained as a DA Intern at Fort Hood’s Public Affairs office. I learn to write news articles, produce radio programs, and I assisted in helping external media outlets share Fort Hood’s story. That year, I learn how to share Fort Hood’s story with its surrounding community and bring the community to Fort Hood. As my talent grew, so did my understanding of knowing how to tell the Army’s story.

After my year of training at Fort Hood, I was off to Fort Meade, Va. to the Defense Information School where I would put all my knowledge of the previous year to use. It was at DINFOS, working with officers from all branches of the military, that I expanded on my skills of how to effectively communicate a message.

I learned to pay attention to who my audience was. The same message will not be interpreted across various audiences same way. Learning to deliver the right message to the right audience helped me see the difference between effectively telling the Army’s story or just regurgitating information to the public.

Nine and half weeks of vigorous training in journalism, on-camera skills, interviewing techniques, prepping commanders for interviews and writing military guidance was challenging; but the experience was extremely fun and valuable to my professional growth.

Now my internship is near completion. I am currently on my final rotation and working at the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in Washington D.C. I plan to gain knowledge of telling the Army’s story on a “big Army level”, by learning to tailor a message to reach all audiences of the U.S. Army.

My three-way perspective helps me bring new insight in each story I tell. I can relate to Soldiers and veterans, because I was one and am one. I can relate to surrounding community members, because I live in these military communities, not as a Soldier but as civilian. I can relate to federal employees who work side by side with our military because I am one too.

Telling the Army’s story is now my career, and the DA internship gave me the knowledge and confidence to do it effectively.