Private First Class (PFC) Elahni Ocean is a woman on a mission – to utilize every opportunity she earns serving in the Army National Guard to further herself and her family.
Her unusual first name, which, coincidentally, is “inhale” spelled backwards, seems to reflect her outlook toward her service in the New York Army National Guard – to take everything in.
In her civilian life, PFC Ocean is a busy mom and social worker who is dedicated to helping homeless families. She has been living and working in Brooklyn since 2016 and joined the Army National Guard in July 2019.
“Service is definitely part of me. I like being part of that 1 percent – part of the community that is smaller but powerful.”
Military service runs in her family: PFC Ocean entered the Army National Guard at age 28 – the same age her mother was when she joined the Guard. Her father served in the Marines, her sister is in the Army, and many other extended family members also serve.
“My mother served in the Army National Guard, but she wasn’t afforded the same amount of information on the benefits she would have been able to receive, so she didn’t explore all her options,” says PFC Ocean, “But I plan to explore every single option for myself and my family and I am determined to do it right.”
By “doing it right,” PFC Ocean explains, she plans to take advantage of every opportunity her service in the Army National Guard provides – education, housing, and even help with starting her own business.
Her civilian career as a social worker provided experience to help her succeed in her Army National Guard position in Human Resources.
“We ensure that the Soldier and their family are well maintained,” she explains. “We make sure the Soldier’s story is complete in life and on paper.” That includes ensuring their emergency information is up to date, their insurance is in order, their awards and promotions are on track, and checking qualifications for various trainings/schools.
PFC Ocean says she didn’t realize just how much her civilian career and military career were alike until she finished her training in the Army National Guard. Both require paying close attention to detail and a serious amount of discipline.
“As a woman working in both fields, these are really important,” she explains. “In civilian life, the standard you set forth is the standard your family will follow. In the Army National Guard, the standard you set forth is the standard they respect you at.”
In her civilian work with the homeless, there are sometimes six or more people in the family, and she must make certain she follows through to ensure every family member’s needs are met. The same holds true when working with Soldiers’ families.
“There are set rules that you need to abide by,” she explains. “If you don’t, serious things can happen.”
Both involve a tremendous amount of customer service. “I have to make sure their needs are met to get them to their goal.”
After completion of Advanced Individual Training, PFC Ocean earned the Army Achievement Medal, and the Distinguished Leadership Award. She also received a Certificate of Achievement for her outstanding performance as the Student First Sergeant during her training, which led her to being meritoriously promoted to the rank of Private First Class.
She also completed Weapons Qualification Training, which she says, in times of frustration, actually was a great stress reliever.
“It allows you to get to know your body because you have to move as one to hit your target, and you have to learn to control your body and breathing,” she says.
PFC Ocean has not been deployed yet but says the thoughts of it are both a blessing and a curse. While she would welcome the opportunity to travel, she is dedicated to serving in her community at home – she knows it inside and out and is confident in her ability to keep her community safe and well. “No one can do it any better.”
Her service in the Army National Guard has helped her to grow. “Personally, I think it makes me stronger as a woman and as a mom.”
Moving forward, her goals are to earn the rank of Lieutenant, to travel with the Army National Guard, and leverage every available opportunity for her family’s benefit. She already has done college-level studies, but wants to move forward studying business psychology, and eventually start her own business. She plans to pursue the Helmets to Hardhats program, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs to establish and open their own business. She also wants to contribute her experience to programs that provide help to homeless veterans.
“I like the support I receive in the Army National Guard,” she explains. “You feel that you are part of a community. I know that if I ever fall, I will be completely supported because I made the sacrifice for my country.”
The Army National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home State, so your family is always close by. With positions in more than 130 career fields, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more.