STARKE, Fla. – Five years after the National Guard was authorized drill instructor specialties the Florida Army National Guard added another first, by having the first female drill instructor in the state’s history.
Army Staff Sgt. Danielle Gorie works full-time for the Florida Army National Guard as the advertising and marketing noncommissioned officer in the recruitment and retention section, but she recently took on a more challenging role as drill instructor.
“I wanted to set myself apart,” said Gorie, who responded to a request for volunteers to attend drill sergeant school.
“I love training troops, and now I can in a drill instructor capacity,” she added. “It’s all about mentoring soldiers and that’s something that I greatly enjoy.”
In order to receive the drill instructor specialty, Gorie and other candidates from various units across the country endured nine grueling weeks of drill instructor training at Fort Jackson, S.C. Out of the 60 class members that completed the training, only eight were female.
“It was basic training all over again,” Gorie said. The drill instructor’s course, she said, was the most difficult challenge she has faced in her military career.
“If you failed a test, you retook it the next morning. If you failed again, you went home,” Gorie said.
In addition to earning the drill instructor specialty, Gorie also gained various certifications during the course, such as combat life saver and combatives instructor.
Having completed drill instructor’s training, Gorie is responsible for training prior service and initial recruits awaiting Officer Candidate School as part of the Officer Recruit Sustainment program.
“Having a drill sergeant as part of our program helps by teaching them basic soldier skills like drill and ceremonies and physical training prior to attending Basic Combat Training,” said Army Capt. Enrique Martinez Jr., officer strength manager. “It also helps minimize the ‘shock’ factor,” when the students arrive to take their first course.
Since its creation, soldiers who’ve attended the RSP program prior to basic training have consistently out-performed their peers, even beyond boot camp, officials said.
Since the majority of Gorie’s trainees have prior military service, and all of them hold college degrees, she expects more from them compared to raw recruits.
“I hold them to a higher standard than I would ordinary privates,” Gorie said. “They’re all adults and capable of having responsibilities even at this new soldier level.”