An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | June 12, 2023

Women Veterans Day – Celebrating Special Agent Crystal Wallace’s Service to Country

By Frances Seybold Department of the Army Criminal Investigation Division

Known to few, not even by women veterans themselves, Women Veterans Day is held annually on June 12 in recognition of the anniversary of the 1948 Women’s Armed Services Integration Act signing. This year is the 75th Anniversary of that legislation granting America’s military women a permanent place in the military.

One such veteran is Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Special Agent Crystal L. Wallace who proudly served the United States Army in uniform for 26 years. She joined, like so many others, just after Desert Storm erupted. With 87 percent of new recruits falling in the 18–24-year-old range, according to the DoD, she was not quite like the others as she turned 30 years old at basic training. 

The war was not her only motivation to join. “I always wanted to serve my country,” said Wallace.

Wallace experienced a challenging childhood in Brooklyn faced with poverty and the struggle for food. She and her three older siblings were raised by a single mother, who Wallace believes did the best she could under the circumstances. Wallace was only 15 years old when her mother abandoned the family.

“I was on my own to raise myself and knew I had to break the vicious cycle by working hard and going to school,” said Wallace. Being the only sibling to graduate high school and college was the start of breaking that cycle.

When Wallace joined the Army, it was her goal to be an MP, but was told she was too short. She was assigned MOS 75C personnel management specialist. In 1993, she was considering getting out after her first enlistment and happened to meet someone who worked for CID. Wallace explained she had never been in trouble and did not know what CID was.  After learning about the organization and the ability at that time to make a lateral move into MOS 31D criminal investigator, she knew she had yet another positive path to follow. 

“In 1994, I began 18 months of on-the-job training at the Fort Carson CID Office before going to school,” said Wallace. I learned from some really good agents.”

She continued to Fort McClellan, Alabama, where she completed the Special Agent Course in July 1996, earning her badge and credentials.

When asked what position she felt she was able to be the most influential, she noted it was serving as Protective Services Battalion first sergeant.  She had responsibility for about 300 Reserve and active-duty Soldiers positioned all over the world.

“The majority were out doing God’s work providing executive level protection for the organization, and always at a heightened state of alert,” said Wallace.

She provided support to them around the clock to make certain they could make their mission. She is proud of the relationships she built with the Soldiers she served with and maintains today.

“Sometimes Soldiers just want to be heard – we all have a story to tell, our truth,” explained Wallace.

As with many careers, there are progressions to achieve and choices to be made. When Wallace was a sergeant first class, she was tempted to go the warrant officer route, she said, “I was talking to the CID Command Sergeant Major, and he asked me what I wanted to be. I told him I wanted his job.” Her next path was set.

After holding top leadership positions at the battalion and group level, she attained the top enlisted job at Army CID becoming both the first female and Black minority command sergeant major, until her retirement in May 2017.

“I feel being a CID agent was the best job, whether civilian or military, to have in the Army. I feel so truly blessed.” Wallace shared she had a wonderful career, did things she never thought she would do, went places she never thought she would go, and was even deployed at the age of 50.

Following retirement, she took a small career break and then worked for another government agency before applying for a civilian position with CID. She was hired as a Special Agent in the Office of Professional Responsibility. She said her military experience conducting criminal investigations, holding leadership positions, knowing the regulations, and knowing what right looks like was perfect in preparing her for her current role conducting inquiries into allegations of special agent misconduct.

Wallace shared that her career was not perfect. She absolutely had to work harder than her male counterparts. When people join the military, they bring the norms they were raised with. Some of those thoughts are about women and relate to how they feel about women in the military. She knows it is important for all of us to avoid overgeneralization when it comes to people, experiences, and events.

She created a successful life for herself, and most importantly broke the vicious cycle of her family’s past.