Family, friends and fellow Soldiers showed their support for Staff Sgt. Shalanda Banks as she was promoted to sergeant first class at a July 2 ceremony in the Headquarters, 262nd Quartermaster Battalion multipurpose room.
Her brother – Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Banks, the senior enlisted leader of Headquarters Command Battalion, Fort Meade, Md. – was among those in attendance. He said it was the first time they’ve been stationed close enough together to participate in the other’s promotion ceremony.
“I’m proud of her hard work,” the 25-year Soldier said. “I told her to stay the course, and keep one foot in front of the other, even on those hills. You keep your head down and keep grinding. You keep doing the right things, and it’ll pay off. It did for her, as it has done for me.”
“I also told her to not stop doing what got her here,” he continued. “Don’t get complacent and keep grinding. Keep doing the hard work.”
His younger sister had worked hard for her second rocker. She beamed with pride while kneeling in front of the room to allow her two youngest children to place new rank epaulets on her shirt. Then her brother helped with slipping on a uniform jacket decorated with her newly acquired SFC stripes.
Among those witnessing the special moment was Master Sgt. Carlandra Moss, CASCOM G4 NCOIC, who was previously serving as the Victor Company first sergeant when she became a cheerleader for then Drill Sergeant Banks.
“I watched several E-7s in the company get promoted to master sergeant, and I had one desire before I took the diamond off, which was seeing Staff Sgt. Banks get promoted,” Moss recalled. “When the list came out the year before last, Shalanda was devastated she wasn’t on it. I took her to lunch and said ‘Don’t give up on me. Let’s use this year. Let’s grind. Let’s finish your degree. Go Audie Murphy. I will be with you every step of the way.”
Banks followed her advice. She was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club in April 2019.
“She put in the work while, by the way, being a single mother and fulfilling her responsibilities as a drill sergeant. She took on the battalion female mentorship program that was so successful it was elevated to the brigade and then installation level,” Moss said. “All of this while finishing her degree and overseeing an average of 90-to-100 Soldiers in a platoon by herself. I don’t think she knows how magnificent she is; what a phenomenal leader she is. I tip my hat to her. … I can now focus on my retirement knowing that Staff Sgt. Banks has made it to SFC.”
The newly promoted Soldier also reflected on the road she has traveled.
“For a long time, I felt like I was doing enough (to get promoted), but I wasn’t at the time,” Banks said. “I had to fight for it, and I’ll never forget how I felt when they told me I got it this year. Master Sgt. Moss gave me a lot of mentorship – different things she felt would help me stand above my peers and look more professional. They worked … well, that and a lot of prayer.”
Banks intends to use everything she’s learned at her next assignment in Daegu, South Korea. “I love being a mentor, and it was amazing starting the female mentorship program here and hearing from leadership and others how much they’d learned from it. I’ll always be a mentor to my troops and look forward to continuing it there.”