By by Sgt. Joshua Syberg
Indiana National Guard
Henry David Thoreau, a 19th century American poet and lifelong abolitionist, once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
An example Thoreau referenced was about looking at a tree.
He looked at the branches, leaves, trunk and roots.
However, what he saw was natural beauty.
Thoreau’s ideals would later influence civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
King said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
For the Indiana National Guard’s aide-de-camp, that day is today.
Schedule management, travel coordination, document reviews, coordination and dissemination are only parts of the tremendous responsibilities thrust onto junior officers stepping into the role of aide-de-camp.
Within the United States Army, aides-de-camp are specifically appointed to general-grade officers as a military form of executive assistant. However, in the past, aides primarily fell into one demographic.
1st Lt. Jovanni Springer, Indiana National Guard’s Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles’ new aide-de-camp, represents three firsts in her new position. She is the first woman, person of color and airmen to hold the position for Indiana.
Springer was selected because she was qualified and considered the best fit for the job or as Dr. King said— the content of her character.
“Brig. Gen. Lyles communicated from the position of, ‘can you get the job done, and are you a good fit during the interview process?’” Springer said. “It was about individual capability, and being measured from that place is humbling and exciting. I’m honored to be his aide.”
Originally from Miami, Springer has always been a successful athlete even going to a Division 1 college for track and basketball. By happenstance, during a visit home during a two-week break before her junior year of college, Springer window shopped all the military recruiting offices while waiting for her mom to finish her pedicure.
“While walking past the Army window, the recruiters, coming back from lunch, invited me in”, Springer said. “Two days later, I was at the Military Entrance Processing Station selecting a job. I said yes because I loved the rigor, team and service to something bigger than myself that the service offered. It just felt good.”
Although Springer began her career in the Army she later transitioned to the Air Force. Both of which give her a combined total of 15 years of service.
She equates it to speaking multiple languages and having time in both branches allows to her to be a bridge between the two at Indiana’s Joint Force Headquarters, which represents Indiana’s Army National Guard and Air National Guard.
Although she represents three firsts for the position, Springer focuses on the tools that make her better as a person: communication, professionalism and education; rather than labels.
Lyles and the Indiana National Guard command team took notice of Springer’s drive and demeanor.
“1st. Lt. Springer earned the aide-de-camp role by virtue of her professional attributes and was ultimately selected by the Indiana National Guard command team.” Lyles said. “I'm most impressed by her determined demeanor and her sincere and genuine desire to serve her state and nation. She offers a unique perspective of diverse and innovative ideas that will help me and the entire team in positioning the Indiana National Guard for future success.”
Even though Springer was chosen above her peers solely because of her high level of excellence and character, having representation of women, African Americans and airmen is equally laudable.
“Am I honored to be an example for other airmen, women, African Americans? Yes,” Springer said. “I’m humbled by it all honestly. I'm an airman, I'm a woman, and I'm African American. I own those virtues. I don't hide behind any of them. I am them. My focus is to be the best version of me and this position pushes me to do just that.”
Being an aide-de-camp is known for being an extremely high intensity position. But for Springer, that’s no problem at all.
“It's a blast,” Springer said. “I know; most look at me like I'm crazy when I say that, and it's true. I'm having a good time.”