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Noni Johnson-Bey entered the U.S. Army solely for financial reasons. But she never expected her service to change her life in the way that it did.

“It changed my life,” she said. “I left with new skin.”

graduation
Photo courtesy of Noni Johnson-Bey

Johnson-Bey was a Unit Supply Specialist. The most pivotal moment in her career, perhaps, wasn’t when she married at 24 years old after her basic training; but rather, what came after that marital commitment went sour— and became an abusive situation.


“They changed my orders so that I did not deploy to Afghanistan, and it was during that time that I was able to sharpen my skills in writing. I got a lot of therapy, personal therapy, that they gave me,” she said.

It was then when Johnson-Bey come up with a plan to escape her abusive marriage. Had she deployed, she said, she would have deployed “again, and again, and again, and again.” “Instead, I got to help the base but also figure out: how do I reinvent myself by the time my enlistment is over?” she said.

“There’s something very soulful and meaningful that really happened to me on my journey,” she said. “There’s something prideful that I carry with me each day and it’s unspoken.”

Photo courtesy of Noni Johnson-Bey
Photo courtesy of Noni Johnson-Bey

“People think they know what a veteran looks like, and they have no idea.”

Johnson-Bey now works for Rare.us. Her daughter, Willow, is 10 years old.

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