Capt. Yolanda Lee is not your average army officer. Lee was commissioned second lieutenant by the Reserve Officers Training Corps at Howard University in 2002, and served as the commander of the 275th Military Police Company.

Born on Nov. 12, 1975 in the District of Columbia, Lee began her military career on March 2, 1993 when she enlisted in the District of Columbia National Guard. “I started in the DC National Guard as an E-1, so they have helped cultivate me into a leader from Day One,” said Lee. “I am a laid back, but effective leader. I allow my staff to do their job without micromanaging and I give them guidance which allows them to bring their vision to fruition.”

Soldiers are Lee’s priority; She has spent over 15 years dedicating her life to soldiers’ progression. Lee has managed soldiers’ careers as a Human Resources Development specialist, Personnel System’s manager, transportation officer, platoon leader in Iraq. Currently, she is the DC National Guard State partnership program coordinator for Jamaica.

Lee entered the service seeking simply to be a servant leader, but she has earned several awards and decorations such as the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas ribbon, and several others. Because of her distinguished leadership and her desire to set an example for her peers and subordinates, Lee was chosen to dine at the White House for “A Nations Gratitude Dinner” Feb. 29, accompanied by her mother, Joyce Williams, along with 77 other service members from all over the nation and different branches of the military.

“I feel all around overjoyed to have been selected. They could have selected any one of the 12,000 soldiers, but they saw fit to choose me,” Lee said.

“When I entered the White House I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and honor, and all the other troops seemed to share my sentiments. The food was delicious, the decor was beautiful, just simply befitting of a refined presidential dinner.

“The defining moment that continues to resonate with me is when President Obama spoke,” Lee said. “Just his choice of words and gratitude toward the soldiers was touching, but one thing he said that really caught my attention was, ‘We are here to honor our troops but let us not forget to honor the troops who have come back wounded internally and externally, we honor them as well.’” 

Kyra O. Davenport

Special to the AFRO