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Taking probability in ROTC led to Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead’s historic profession – WBAL TV Baltimore

Maryland National Guard Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead has led a historic journey to the top tier of the guard, becoming front and center the day after the siege on the U.S. Capitol, leading 14,000 troops to support the 59th presidential inauguration.Birckhead was commissioned after graduating from Hampton University in Virginia. Her military career has spanned 28 years — and it all started out by chance.”I never started out to be in the Army. It was just by chance that I ended up going to ROTC and having an ROTC scholarship, which led to a career in the Army National Guard,” Birckhead said.In January, Gov. Larry Hogan asked her to take the lead on the Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force.”That task force is working with the health department, local community figures, working with the Maryland Department of Health to ensure equitable distribution of vaccine and to underserved communities, rural communities, communities of color, communities where we are seeing hesitancy in taking the vaccine,” Birckhead said.She visits vaccine sites and appears in public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, she joined the governor and other leaders in touring the opening of Maryland’s third mass COVID-19 vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The D.C. National Guard’s commanding general and Hogan asked Birckhead to be the Task Force Capitol Grounds commander for the presidential inauguration and security mission starting the day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.”Being part of that was surreal,” Birckhead said. “Seeing the fencing around the buildings and the National Guard standing guard and on post, it was really an experience that is not American.”When asked who her role model was, Birckhead said: “Maj. Gen. retired (Linda) Singh has played a large role in my military career.”Singh was the first woman and African American to command the Maryland National Guard. Birckhead reached out to the retired adjutant general after the insurrection, noting that Singh was also launched onto the public stage during the uprising in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray to ensure there was peace in Baltimore City.”She has consistently been harder on me than anyone else could have been throughout the years, and she has consistently told me that whatever I do, I have to do well, and that it’s important to be a role model to others and mentor others,” Birckhead said.As an assistant adjutant general for the Army, Birckhead was part of the Maryland National Guard’s first-ever all-female command staff in 2018 — a first for Maryland and the nation.While Singh is her career role model, Birckhead’s mother is her role model for life.”She is a very hardworking, tenacious woman who came from poverty,” Birckhead said. “She went on to become a councilwoman for many years and then was elected to judge of the Orphans Court. She was a judge in Worcester County. It’s remarkable from here to there.”Birckhead is proud of her heritage, especially her grandparents, who went to segregated schools in Maryland.”Neither of them were formally educated beyond (high school),” Birckhead said.Birckhead holds two master’s degrees — one from the University of Maryland University College and another from the U.S. Army War College. She has had several tours of duty overseas, including in Afghanistan.Birckhead is on leave from her full-time civilian job at the Department of the Interior, working full-time for the National Guard during COVID-19. When she’s not working those two jobs, she’s also the deputy commandant for reserve affairs at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. ​

Maryland National Guard Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead has led a historic journey to the top tier of the guard, becoming front and center the day after the siege on the U.S. Capitol, leading 14,000 troops to support the 59th presidential inauguration.

Birckhead was commissioned after graduating from Hampton University in Virginia. Her military career has spanned 28 years — and it all started out by chance.

“I never started out to be in the Army. It was just by chance that I ended up going to ROTC and having an ROTC scholarship, which led to a career in the Army National Guard,” Birckhead said.

In January, Gov. Larry Hogan asked her to take the lead on the Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force.

“That task force is working with the health department, local community figures, working with the Maryland Department of Health to ensure equitable distribution of vaccine and to underserved communities, rural communities, communities of color, communities where we are seeing hesitancy in taking the vaccine,” Birckhead said.

She visits vaccine sites and appears in public service announcements about the COVID-19 vaccine. On Thursday, she joined the governor and other leaders in touring the opening of Maryland’s third mass COVID-19 vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

The D.C. National Guard’s commanding general and Hogan asked Birckhead to be the Task Force Capitol Grounds commander for the presidential inauguration and security mission starting the day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Being part of that was surreal,” Birckhead said. “Seeing the fencing around the buildings and the National Guard standing guard and on post, it was really an experience that is not American.”

When asked who her role model was, Birckhead said: “Maj. Gen. retired (Linda) Singh has played a large role in my military career.”

Singh was the first woman and African American to command the Maryland National Guard. Birckhead reached out to the retired adjutant general after the insurrection, noting that Singh was also launched onto the public stage during the uprising in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray to ensure there was peace in Baltimore City.

“She has consistently been harder on me than anyone else could have been throughout the years, and she has consistently told me that whatever I do, I have to do well, and that it’s important to be a role model to others and mentor others,” Birckhead said.

As an assistant adjutant general for the Army, Birckhead was part of the Maryland National Guard’s first-ever all-female command staff in 2018 — a first for Maryland and the nation.

While Singh is her career role model, Birckhead’s mother is her role model for life.

“She is a very hardworking, tenacious woman who came from poverty,” Birckhead said. “She went on to become a councilwoman for many years and then was elected to judge of the Orphans Court. She was a judge in Worcester County. It’s remarkable from here to there.”

Birckhead is proud of her heritage, especially her grandparents, who went to segregated schools in Maryland.

“Neither of them were formally educated beyond (high school),” Birckhead said.

Birckhead holds two master’s degrees — one from the University of Maryland University College and another from the U.S. Army War College. She has had several tours of duty overseas, including in Afghanistan.

Birckhead is on leave from her full-time civilian job at the Department of the Interior, working full-time for the National Guard during COVID-19. When she’s not working those two jobs, she’s also the deputy commandant for reserve affairs at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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