Tramashika DeWalt, who will be honored as the Hero of the Game during Wednesday’s Houston Dynamo FC vs Seattle Sounders FC match, has always been driven to give back to others. It is why she joined the Army straight out of high school, and it is also what she has dedicated much of her post-military life to.
Born and raised in Houston, DeWalt knew that she wanted to make something with her life, but also understood that it would be difficult to achieve coming from an under-resourced community. She felt that the military was her best option to start her life out on the right foot.
“I started off as a military policeperson and then before I ended my service, I had worked my way up to MPI, which is a military police investigator. I really loved cop work,” DeWalt said. “I lived in an under-resourced community, so I didn't have many resources as it related to going to college or things like that.”
While that decision was motivated in part out of necessity, DeWalt says that she wouldn’t change a thing, as she gained so much from her time in the Army.
“The military offered an opportunity to go to school, to have a skillset that I didn't necessarily have to pay for, because I couldn't necessarily afford to go to college out of my own pocket,” DeWalt said. “It was a great opportunity to help jumpstart my life in a positive way, but it also gave me the opportunity to serve in a larger way than I had already been serving as a kid and a high schooler as well. So that was a great opportunity to serve my country while also learning so much.”
For those unfamiliar with the military police work, DeWalt describes it as being very similar to civilian police duties, just with more variety in your day-to-day activity.
“Military police officers are just like regular civilian officers, the only difference is you're limited to all things military,” DeWalt said. “It is different from the civilian life because as a civilian cop you know like 'I'm going to be a patrolman, or I'm going to be the captain or the lieutenant or the captain or the detective.' In the military you get the cool privilege of going through everything. You have the opportunity to go through each role as a police officer, so you'll know where you want to be. I opted into military police investigations because it gives you the opportunity to go out and see more cases that you would not see as a regular patrolman.”
Since leaving the Army, DeWalt has made the most of her time back in civilian life.
“I took the opportunity to use my educational benefit to get my degree in mathematics. The goal is to go for my doctorate in mathematics,” DeWalt said. I have started my own business. I've continued working in community service. I have served the community throughout my entire life, and that started back up once I got out of the military because I had time.”
DeWalt’s non-profit work stems from her own experience growing up in an under-resourced community. She wants kids in similar situations to have the tools to be able to live out their dreams, and she is doing everything she can to make that possible through her non-profit, United in Service Coalition.
“We serve under-resourced communities like the one that I grew up in by trying to provide them the resources that I didn't have or that I needed growing up. We provide training, programs, education and organize service projects there. I know when I was growing up in our area and I know it's still kind of the same way because I'm still actively involved in my community, a lot of the kids don't have resources about what you can do when you graduate from high school,” DeWalt said. “Some of them don't know that they can go to the military, I can go to college, and even if I can't afford it, there are scholarships out there for under resourced people. We also teach financial literacy, entrepreneurship, whatever training or program that will help the students and the families in the community, we try to do those things. If it advances or moves the community forward, we're probably on board or in the background in some way, some form or fashion helping to push that.”
In addition to the non-profit that she started, DeWalt is deeply connected with The Mission Continues, a nationwide non-profit that helps connect veterans with service projects so that they can continue to serve those less fortunate than themselves.
The organization has programs that deploy veteran volunteers to work alongside nonprofit partners and community leaders to improve educational resources, tackle food insecurity, foster neighborhood identity, among others. After starting off as a volunteer, DeWalt has worked her way up to a Houston platoon leader, in addition to all the other great work that she does.