Dr. Juanita Wilchie, who now fills a command post at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South, said, “Serving in Iraq taught me how important it is to be a decisive leader.” (Courtesy photo)

Wife, mother, grandmother, sorority president, trainer, licensed professional counselor and now the recipient of a U.S. Army battalion command. Meet Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Juanita Wilchie.

For Wilchie, who is stationed at Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South, formerly the Millington Naval Base, the U.S. Army medical promotion came in early June. NSA Mid-South hosts military branches other than the Navy.

“The Selection Board looks at officers of a certain rank to fill command posts,” Wilchie said. “I am a lieutenant colonel. There were 52 positions to be filled. I was thrilled to be among them. Only eight females were awarded posts. It was exciting to get the news.”

While the command came as a surprise to Wilchie, it is consistent with her self-assessment as a strong, competent leader, who has earned the merits of her reputation through challenging experiences and trial by fire.

“As a member of the Army Officers’ Corps, I served in the Iraqi war zone in 2003,” said Wilchie. “I had mothers who told me to bring their sons back home safe, and that’s just what I did.

“We were ordered to convoy through a very dangerous area with IUDs and other explosives. … I made a decision to not go right away. I was prepared to take the heat because it was not safe. Finally, an XO, executive officer, arranged for us to fly over the zone. Making those kinds of decisions are indicative of the kind of leader I am.”

A Central High School graduate, Wilchie earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Services at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While a sophomore, Wilchie joined the U.S. Navy Reserves, which was offering a $50,000 sign-on bonus at the time. She served in the reserves for eight years before joining the U.S. Army’s officers’ corps.

“Serving in Iraq taught me how important it is to be a decisive leader,” said Wilchie. “I try to always make the best decisions for those serving with me. It was so rewarding to get this command. A ceremony was held on June 9, and I must say, it was just a very proud moment for me.”

In civilian life, Wilchie runs a thriving, private practice as a licensed professional counselor. A member of the Leadership Memphis Class of 2008, she also recently was elected to a second term as president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Germantown Chapter.

Wilchie is married to Robert Wimbley Jr. and the couple has two sons: Robert Wimbley III and Reginald Wimbley and a grandson, Robert Wimbley IV.

“I hope my story motivates and encourages women everywhere,” said Wilchie, the owner of New Dawn Counseling in Memphis. “Our voices are important, and we deserve to be heard.”