Gretchen G. Evans
Command Sergeant Major
United States Army (retired)
Inspirational Speaker | Keynote Speaker | Author | Philanthropist
Business Consultant | Board Member
Hero to Zero: My Climb out of Darkness
Servant Leadership and Teamwork
Women in the Military
Leadership Development: Building Strong Teams and Finding Your Grit
Texas native Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans, one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history, began her journey four decades ago when she entered the United States Army at 19 years old. Shortly after completing Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood (Missouri), CMS Evans became an Intelligence Analyst for Commander in Chief (Europe), before studying German and Italian at the Defense Language Institute (California) as a Counterintelligence Agent. Following her graduation from language school, CSM Evans attended Basic Airborne training at Fort Benning (Georgia), where training requirements included Bill Streets Driving School, sniper training, demolition training, and covert operations training. She held leadership roles in multiple combat engagements and had several deployments as part of a black operations unit and the “Green Army.”
Throughout her 27 years in the service, CSM Evans worked her way up to Command Sergeant Major – the highest rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. In this role, she was responsible for the security and personnel on all bases and forwarding operation bases in Afghanistan, and oversaw more than 30,000 ground troops. She earned numerous medals and awards, including the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation Medal, and Global War on Terrorism ribbons, six Meritorious Service Medals and numerous other awards.
In 2006, CSM Evans’ world changed in a millisecond when she was severely wounded by incoming fire while serving in Afghanistan. The rocket blast caused her debilitating injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, internal injuries and the loss of all hearing.
After her combat injury, recent PTSD diagnosis and subsequent retirement from service, her transition from military life to civilian life was difficult. Her heart was broken and she felt hopeless, not only due to the injuries she sustained but also due to the sudden loss — of family, a team, the fellowship and the mission she had found and loved, the military experience. She found her way into No Barriers Warriors, a life-changing organization that serves veterans with disabilities from all branches of the military and all eras of service. The healing environment restored her confidence, gave her hope and a renewed passion for living life to the fullest.
Today, CSM Evans is determined to pay it forward by focusing her efforts on improving the lives of her fellow veterans by actively serving as a mentor, coach, and community activist. Gretchen is an ambassador for nonprofit No Barriers USA. She continues to serve as a board member of several veteran-focused organizations and is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. In 2017, she published her first book, Leading from the Front, Lessons by a Command Sergeant Major, and in 2018, she co-led a group of youth with mixed abilities on an expedition to Nepal.
CSM Evans currently resides in Brunswick, Maine, with her husband Robert, a Navy veteran and retired Associate Director of the Charles George VA Medical Center, and their two service dogs Aura and Rusty. She is an avid hiker, runner, cyclist, and reader. Gretchen will be inducted into the U.S. Veterans Hall of Fame for her outstanding and meritorious service within the United States Army and in her community.
Gretchen’s story is featured in the new 2020 bestselling book, What’s Within You, and starting in August 2020, Gretchen and her adventure racing team, Team UNBROKEN, will be featured in the “World’s Toughest Race” on Amazon Prime, hosted by Bear Grylls and produced by Mark Burnett.