Empower AI’s Ashley Wilson knows firsthand the value of military families, and how challenging it can be to serve your country. During her first deployment in the U.S. Army in 2003, Wilson had to leave her four-year-old and 10-month-old daughters with her husband in Albany, N.Y., while she was sent to South Korea to work on telecommunications systems to help servicemembers stay connected, and the military achieve its missions.
“Having the support system of my husband and extended family during my deployments was very helpful,” she said, adding that she made it home for the youngest daughter’s 2nd birthday. “We had great communication and it made being away much easier.”
Soon after her return to the states, however, she deployed once again. This time to Afghanistan with the 518th Signal Corps, working on a NATO base with specialists from several other countries with a familiar goal in mind: installing telecommunication systems that were integral to day-to-day military mission communications, and connecting soldiers to their families back home.
It continued like that for over five years during her time of service, climbing satellite towers and telephone poles to run communication lines and cables in places like South Korea, Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Fort Gordon, Ga., and her 15-month deployment to Afghanistan. Her time in Afghanistan was difficult but rewarding, as she experienced great teamwork when NATO countries worked together on a common mission.
The Mission to Serve Continues…
U.S. Army Telecommunications Technician (2003-2008),
and now, Project Manager, Empower AI
Following her time in the Army, Wilson and her family settled in Fort Huachuca to work on the initiatives she knew so well – the telecommunications system Installer program for the Army. She eventually joined Empower AI (formerly NCI) in 2012 and continues to serve the program to this day. Today, she’s a project manager for integration and implementation in the design of all audio/visual and network systems for the Army.
“We do engineering, design, and then go on-site to install and implement these systems,” she said. “One of the great things about going to these different bases and working on these different projects is that I tend to constantly run into people I was in the military with or who know people I was in the military with. The commercial side of the Signal Corps is a very small world in the military, so continually being affiliated with and a part of that community is very fulfilling.”
To celebrate Military Families Appreciation Month and Veterans Day, Wilson likes to join her sister, who also served in the Army, and relive her experiences with her kids.
“My older kids are aware of my sacrifice and are very appreciative,” she said. “My littler ones are just starting to get to know about my time in the military and what I’ve done.
She added with a laugh, “I have a lot of kids. My oldest is 21 (a senior at Georgia State University), a 17-year-old, a 10-year-old, a nine-year-old, a four-year-old and a baby due in December 2022.”
Wilson noted that one of the things she learned in the military and tries to instill in her own family is to gain as much knowledge and training as possible.
“I continue to do that in my career today,” she said. “Any time I have the opportunity to complete any additional training or gain additional knowledge, I always think that is the key to being successful and moving forward. And the good thing about technology is that it is always changing and growing with the future, so staying up to date on that is always a plus.”
Looking back on her military career and her work today, she still feels that sense of mission each day.
“I feel like even though I am not in the military anymore, I am still able to serve the Army and the Army’s mission,” she said. “It is very rewarding. Being a member of the military is about teamwork and trusting the members of your team. Teamwork is just as important in our work at Empower AI.”