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Keeping trust in tune

Guard assistant IG helps find resolution

Connie Byzinker, assistant inspector general for the Washington Army National Guard, believes trust is crucial in her job. Photo credit: WNG

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Connie Byzinker's career with the Washington Army National Guard as an assistant inspector general started when she first learned to play the oboe in the fourth grade.

"I continued through high school," she began, "and before graduation in 1967, my mother found an Army recruiting ad for female musicians. I answered it."

Byzinker then joined the Women's Army Corps and began her service with the 14th Army Band at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

"The 14th was the only military band, active or reserve, that could have females assigned to it at that time," the native of Dover, Ohio continued.

In 1973 when regulations and attitudes had finally changed and enlisted women could join the reserve components, Byzinker became the first prior service female to join the Virginia Army National Guard, where she was trained as a switchboard operator.

Three years later, she transferred to the Washington Army National Guard and was assigned to the 133rd Army Band.

"I was hired as a full-time technician to fill the administrative and supply needs of the band which was attached to 144th Transportation Battalion in the Armory in downtown Tacoma, Washington," she explained.

When the Active Guard Reserve (AGR) program began in 1979, Byzinker transferred from technician status to the new program. In 1996 while serving as an AGR supply NCO, she was told the State Inspector General wanted to see her.

"My first thought was what did I do?" she continued. "The Inspector General stated he had an opening for an AGR Master Sergeant, and he wanted to offer me the job. I felt honored."

It is also at this time she decided to go back to school by starting at Pierce College and finishing at Saint Martin's University.

"I loved going to school with soldiers," Byzinker continued. Their experiences were fascinating, and their enthusiasm for life was contagious."

As an assistant inspector general, Byzinker's task is to assist soldiers in finding solutions to problems which they believe their chain of command has not been able to solve.

"I think experience has taught me that there is always more to the story, she continued. 

"Whenever someone comes to you with a problem, their emotions will be involved. And when you go to the command chain, they will be on the defensive. Part of my job is to help all of those concerned to see things objectively." 

In resolving issues, Byzinker strives to be honest in studying both the good and bad sides of the concern.

"It is important to me to be worthy of the trust people put in me. I need to be persistent in getting reliable answers that are within regulation and policy," she said.

Byzinker also said that she does not think that she has done anything unique or interesting that has helped the Guard in any large way.

"I think the important thing that I do for the Guard is assist individual soldiers and their chains of command to communicate and hopefully learn to trust and believe in each other," she concluded.

That's as clear as the oboe's tuning note.

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