Citizen-soldier has dual careers caring for others

Citizen Soldiers assist patient from Hurricane Maria

Whether the situation is a child facing problems at home or in school, or a person who is displaced hundreds of miles from their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Maj. Karean Troy is ready to help.

Troy is a patient administration officer in the Army Reserve and a full-time elementary school counselor. She is a citizen-Soldier. But the common theme in both her military and civilian occupations, as well as her life in general, is a devotion to caring for others.

“From getting to know Miss Troy over the last couple of years, whether it’s in the military or with our students at school, she is always looking out for everyone else,” Spencer Bobian, Troy’s fellow school counselor at Fairfield Elementary School in Winnsboro, South Carolina.

So it did not surprise Bobian at all to find out Troy was one of the key players on an Army Reserve-led Federal Coordination Center Columbia, a team that was based out of a hangar at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. The team was responsible for receiving evacuated patients on flights from either Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, evaluating the patients, and then setting them up with care at a local hospital.

Troy’s duty was to track the patients from the time they boarded a plane until the time they arrived in the care of a local hospital. She received basic information on the condition of the patients and served as a liaison between the military and local hospitals by maintaining a database of available beds for the patients.

“I guess when I look back on it, in either situation I’m in a helping profession,” Troy said. “Many times things I do here in the FCC is troubleshooting. Someone may come up to me with an issue and it may not have anything to do with patient administration but I’ll kind of troubleshoot it, and look at the problem and say ‘Hey, maybe have you tried this?’ I do the same thing with my students as an elementary school counselor. I think my greatest ability is linking people together and getting them where they need to be, and I just bring it to this particular mission.”

Troy grew up in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Henry Ford High School, she dreamed of being a lawyer, until she had what would prove to be a life-changing experience.

“While I was in college, I changed my major to communications and I had a scholarship to do graduate work in communications,” Troy said. “Part of the scholarship was that I had to teach a speech class and have office hours. What I found was, the students would come in and see me during office hours, and I really enjoyed sitting there and talking to them about their problems or whatever was going on. Someone suggested I take a counseling class, and I loved it.”

As a result of the experience, Troy actually forfeited her scholarship in communications to pursue a career in counseling. It was a natural fit, and she’s been doing it ever since.

Troy has served as a counselor in a variety of positions through the years. She was an academic advisor at Wayne State University, a high school counselor for several years, and also worked with the Families First program as a counselor to help resolve issues for parents who were in jeopardy of losing their children.

While studying counseling at Central Michigan, Troy’s college roommate, who was in the military, spurred her interest in joining. She decided to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, and scored very highly, especially in the science categories.

Troy again felt the calling to help other people. She decided to enlist in 1990 as an operating room technician. Her first unit was the 323rd Combat Support Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. She climbed from the rank of private first class to sergeant before earning a direct commission in the Medical Service Corps.

“It was never my intention to make it a career,” Troy said, chuckling, after having served 27 years in the Army Reserve. “I figured I’d get in, do my time, get some experience. But at about the 10-year mark, I knew I had to make the decision. I decided I’d try something different. I was mobilized here at Fort Jackson and worked in operations. The second year I was here, I had a friend who talked me in to talking to the hospital commander about being the commander of the Warrior Transition Unit, a job I really had no interest in doing. I went over there and what they were actually doing was interviewing me for the job. I ended up taking the job.”

Troy spent two years working with wounded Soldiers in WTU, and, as it was another opportunity to help those in need, said it was one of the most rewarding experiences of her career.

Outside of her civilian and military careers, Troy has been active in a wide array of voluntary services. She was a den mother for her son Allen, volunteered at his school, and is active in her church, Journey United Methodist Church in Columbia where she serves as a lay shepherd and has taught bible study classes. She said one of her main life goals is to participate in a ministry mission.
Journey United Methodist Church Pastor Dr. George Ashford has known Troy about seven years at the church.

“She has a passion for helping others and not everyone is necessarily given to that,” Ashford said. “She has a way of understanding people’s lives and hearts that many others may not possess.”
Though Troy has been working long hours with the FCC as part of the hurricane evacuation mission, Bobian said she has a host of children awaiting her return to the school.

“Every day they keep asking me when she’s coming back,” Bobian said. “They look forward to seeing her and look at her almost as another parent or mother figure.”