U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) logo
U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity

Women's History Month: Air Force veteran continues service with a smile

Chris Benson
Chris Benson has duties "too numerous to list" as command support coordinator – with meeting scheduling, official travel, and command administration, she is a vital cog that keeps the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity machine moving. The Air Force veteran and self-described "Navy brat" brings a lifetime's worth of leadership lessons to her vital role with USAMMDA at Fort Detrick, Md., crediting both her parents and the strong women leaders she is proud to call mentors for her personal and professional success. (U.S. Army Photo by Cameron E. Parks)

Women have a rich history in the U.S. military, since before the nation's founding. During Women's History Month, we are highlighting women across the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) and the contributions they make each day to the Army's medical development and sustainment missions.

"Effervescent" might be an overused descriptor of a person's disposition, but in the case of Chris Benson, the word captures her unique mix of business acumen and friendly service. Professional, businesslike, helpful, and outgoing are a few others that come to mind. Walk into her office on most mornings at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and you will be greeted with a bright smile and friendly greeting of the day.

The self-described "Navy brat" followed in her father's footsteps as a young woman, enlisting in the U.S. Air Force to serve in preventative medicine in the bioenvironmental engineering field. Part of Benson's success is directly related to her upbringing, and the values and ethos instilled by her parents, she said.

"My parents were amazing and instilled an incredible work ethic and values in me. In this position, I have a myriad of projects and duties, so I am never at a loss for work…[it] fuels my need for a job well done," said Benson, who currently serves as the executive staff command support coordinator. "Being raised in a military family, it did not matter your sex, religion, race, origin…everyone who came into and out of our home was treated the same."

Benson has been in and around military medical development for more than 15 years, joining USAMMDA in 2008. She supports executive staff programs and ensures all command administrative matters, meetings, gatherings, and command team travel are coordinated and completed in support of the medical developers who make up most of the staff at USAMMDA. She is a key team member, and her duties are "too numerous to list," she said.

"I was lucky to fall into Medical Development," said Benson. "Now, I could not imagine doing anything else. I have always been extremely patriotic so my contributions toward our incredible mission, no matter how small, make me feel I am doing my part towards our Warfighters."

Given Benso's natural charisma, professional drive, and background as a military child, it might seem that leadership as a woman veteran is innate to her character. And while Benson has applied the lessons of childhood and military service toward her profession, she is also quick to credit the woman leaders she proudly calls her mentors.

She gives high praise to her first military mentor, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Sparks, "who showed me a female could reach the top of their field. She consistently worked on my technical expertise, but more importantly, guided me in the necessary acumen needed to grow in a male dominated career field." She also pointed to several luminaries from USAMMDA's past, including former commander, U.S. Army Col. Karen Kopydlowski, and Kathy Berst, the current Deputy Component Acquisition Executive and Deputy Assistant Director for Acquisition and Sustainment with the Defense Health Agency.

"Female leaders like these not only make their current organization better, through what they give, but they improve the future of every organization through those they touched," said Benson. "In general, being a woman in any field can be difficult, but I feel extremely fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to have the female examples that I have had over my lifetime. Each one of them have taught me something. I only hope that in what I have learned that I can take all the good and give back to our remarkable organization."

Last Modified Date: 03/19/2024