KSLA Salutes: Navy veteran turned VA police officer says helping people is greatest part of career
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - VA police Officer Kylie Johnson joined the U.S. Navy in February of 1998.
“I got into the military, graduated from boot camp, and went to my first duty station at Naval Station Mayport in Florida,” Johnson said. “I stayed there for six years. Left Mayport and did my first tour in Iraq nine months after I had my daughter. I was embedded with the Army. Did some time in Fort Dix, New Jersey. I crossed into security operations. I came back to a battalion in Gulfport, Mississippi. I went back to Afghanistan to Camp Leatherneck. Came back and then went to Japan, returned and went back to Afghanistan. After that, my time was up and I made the decision to get out of the military for my daughter. She was becoming a teenager by then and I had missed most of her childhood, so I made the decision to get out for her so I could spend more time with her.”
After Johnson retired, she attended the law enforcement academy in Mississippi and became state certified. She began working for the Mississippi Department of Corrections as a branch director over their training department for corrections.
“My husband was then deployed,” Johnson said. “I then transferred in MDOC as a probation and parole officer. I did that for about three years and absolutely loved it. My husband then got a change of duty station over to Bahrain. It was unaccompanied, so my daughter and I made the decision to move back home.”
Johnson rose to the rank of petty officer first class before she retired. They moved back to Louisiana in January of 2019. Johnson put in an application to work at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center soon after.
“It was my golden dream because I came here working a previous job and talked to, at the time, Deputy Chief Williams,” Johnson said. “I asked him about a job that was being advertised. I asked if he hired females because I had never seen a female VA police officer. He said, ‘Of course we do.’ So I put in for it. Got a call, got an interview, and got hired. So I’ve been here ever since I graduated from the VA Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC) in Little Rock, Arkansas in March of last year. I love coming here simply because the veterans are here. Being a veteran myself, I can’t explain what it means to meet people from different walks of life every day knowing they went before me. Not a lot of people have served our country and for you to understand what they are going through, you have to have walked a similar path to them. To be able to relate to the veterans from Vietnam, WWII, the Korean War, and be able to see them, the people who paved the way for us is awesome. To be able to work here, to serve them back and talk to them, listen to their stories, and thank them, and provide whatever assistance I can... Overton Brooks is a great place.”
Being a VA police officer is much more than a job for Johnson. She has bought several items for veterans in need.
“There was a WWII veteran who came in whose house had burned down,” Johnson said. “Once he was discharged from the ER and was leaving, he had to walk. I stopped him and asked him if he had any shoes and he said he didn’t. I asked him to sit down and wait. I sent for him to have shoes, socks, and winter clothes to help him start over. He was so appreciative and it made my day. I was raised in Keachi, a little town, and we were taught to be blessed. You have to bless other people. It was a blessing for me to be able to help him. He paved the way for me, so it’s only right that if I am in a position to help him, because it didn’t cost me anything to do that. I help people all the time and it is the best feeling in the world. It’s the least I can do and it’s the best part of my job. Regardless of who you are, you can always help somebody.”
Johnson says they were able to get the WWII veteran to a shelter. She encourages everyone to pay it forward.
“My dad served,” Johnson said. “Airborne in the Army. He is a Vietnam veteran. My dad was injured in war before he came back. When I first graduated high school, I started working in Logansport and I hated what I was doing. One day, my dad was talking to me about the military and I thought to myself, ‘It’s time for me to go.’ The next time I got off work, I went and signed up and I left that next month. Best decision I made in my life. I’ve been able to do all types of humanitarian projects in Africa and Japan. To be able to touch so many lives was the best part of service for me, as well as being able to protect my family here at home.”
She says she has been blessed with amazing support throughout the years. She says she wouldn’t have been able to get where she is today without her family, her church family, and fellow service members.
“I am blessed through my military career with great mentors that helped me go through the ranks of the Navy,” Johnson said. “To rise to E-6 in six years is pretty great in the United States Navy. It doesn’t happen too often. The mentors that I had pushed me in the right direction. They gave me the tools that I needed and even when I got here, Deputy Chief Williams gave me the tools I needed, along with my supervisor and my coworkers. They gave me the tools to get me to where I am today. It’s been a blessing and it is still a blessing. I just want to continue to make a difference because the greatest reward, I think, is serving other people. I love it.”
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