Consistently striving for excellence, veteran Barbara G. Robinson, also retired as a Milwaukee Police Department police officer, desires to always be in position to help others. “When I can help anyone, I know my living hasn’t been in vain.” Beginning her 23-year military career in 1982, she achieved the rank of U.S. Air Force Reserve Master Sergeant (E-7), transferred to the Army, and reenlisted in the Air Force Reserve. She excels knowing “With Christ all things are possible,” a strong family foundation, Core Air Force Values and the Air Force’s embracing of the French adage “esprit de core” meaning “a sense of unity.”
Born in Camden, Arkansas, two-year old Barbara moved with her family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She successfully navigated the Milwaukee Public School System (MPS), insisting on graduating from Rufus King High School in 1972, even though her father built a home in Glendale and she could have transferred to their school district.
The first African-American family to integrate the new neighborhood provided challenges and Barbara’s mother provided this perspective, “People are going to stare at you, because you are stars.” Her father supported them in other ways for example; he facilitated family visits to 42 states by her high school graduation, expanding their education and life experiences,
Greatly impacted, Barbara amassed several college degrees and numerous certificates of completion in diverse disciplines. She began college in Magnolia, Arkansas in 1972. In 1973, she decided to return to her Milwaukee beau, work simultaneously in data processing at Gimbels and the Marine Bank and enroll at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She received an Associate Degree in Data Processing in 1974 and went on to work at the Internal Revenue Service followed by the United States Post Office before a career change to the military.
Barbara’s military service began serendipitously due to her 1974 “later-dissolved” marriage. In 1982, she listened to the Air Force recruiters strive to convince her-then-husband to enlist. Instead Barbara boldly “on-the-spot,” signed the enlistment papers – after becoming convinced.
Leaving Milwaukee to complete basic training and tech school, she released the couple’s home and three sons to her husband’s care. Stationed at Milwaukee’s 440th General Mitchell Air Base, she rejoined the family in 1983, and completed three deployments to Qatar in the Middle East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during her 6-year service requirement.
Her Air Force contract honored, Barbara immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army for active duty in 1988 to gain access to law enforcement, an area then denied to Air Force women. In 1991 she left the Army, returning to Milwaukee to assist with the family bowling businesses, after her father, an Amy veteran, became very ill. She reenlisted in the Air Force reserves in 1992, serving until her retirement in 2007. During that time, in 1995, she began a MPD police officer civilian career and retired in 2012.
She still serves by volunteering for the Center for Veterans with Issues, for her Masonic Chapter of the Order of Eastern Stars and for the Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope better known as MICAH, an agency known for their work with prison issues.
Barbara has three sons and a granddaughter. Serving in the Army, she met Robert Robinson, also a retired Army Sergeant and MPD police officer. They married in 1992.
“Choosing Christ” leads her to feel blessed with knowledge that wasn’t found in history books; rather it came from traveling the world and living her life with purpose. “When I accomplish something, I feel just as grateful when I can share or contribute to others who aren’t as fortunate.”