US Army Reserves First Sergeant Careen Levy first joined the military after her freshman year of college at SUNY Old Westbury, looking for a way to make a difference. On Friday November 6, the New Jersey Devils celebrated her service by recognizing her as the team’s Hero of the Game, as the Devils dueled the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
After going through basic training in 1997 at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, 1st Sgt. Levy participated in Military Occupation Specialties training at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where she became a civil affairs specialist. A couple of years later, Levy was deployed to Kosovo for half a year as part of the peacekeeping mission.
While stationed in Kosovo, 1st Sgt. Levy witnessed some of the many changes taking root in the European nation. These changes reflected major differences between the United States and Kosovo, such as then-recent reforms that led to women learning to drive for the first time.
At her reserve center, after returning from Kosovo, 1st Sgt. Levy furthered her studies in human resources, which she has applied to her civilian life as a human resources manager for JetBlue Airways.
In 2004, 1st Sgt. Levy’s unit was deployed to Iraq. “I was supposed to stay state-side and track their movements, and do all of that stuff from this side. Unfortunately, about two weeks after they were on the ground, I got the call that I had to go as well,” Levy said. Her daughter was just 12-months old at the time.
Since returning from Iraq, 1st Sgt. Levy has worked as part of the Civil Affairs Battalion, which liaises between the United States military and the civilian populace of any nation the US military enters. “Our basic job function is to go in and help rebuild the infrastructure.”
“Sometimes it’s not necessarily a war that causes a country to be devastated, but we go back in and we say ‘Hey, how can the United States military help you?’”
|U.S. Army Reserves First Sergeant Careen Levy with her fiancé David Ybarra. Ybarra proposed to Levy as she was honored at the game. Photo by Joe Marte |
Later this year, 1st Sgt. Levy will be considered for a promotion to the rank of Sergeant Major. A board will look over her evaluations, her education and professionalism to determine the promotion.
1st Sgt. Levy said she generally doesn’t enjoy public recognition, saying she only is doing her job. “I don’t think the things that I do are that big of a deal…but it’s also something that I appreciate when people recognize you and say you have gone above and beyond and should be recognized. I’m honored.”