February 22, 2007
Right now, civilians are getting a taste of what life as a soldier is really like through a program called Augusta in Army Boots.
You may not know that I'm a major in the Army Reserve.
It was May of 1990 when I decided to try something I wasn't quite sure I was ready for. As a 19-year-old college freshman, I joined the U.S. Army Reserves.
Little did I know I would begin a life-changing journey--a journey that would not only take me to all parts of the U.S., but to Europe, Korea, Sweden, and most recently the Middle East.
In basic training, not only did I learn to shoot a rifle, read a map, and dig a foxhole, but I learned the true meaning of teamwork and camaraderie.
That experience is what shaped me to always help someone and never leave a buddy behind.
The principles I learned in basic training would carry me through officer candidate school after college in 1994.
The military has afforded me the opportunity to do things that I may have never had a chance to do. As a public affairs officer in 2004 I participated in an officer foreign exchange program in London. I met with the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence's public affairs team and even had a chance to be showcased on a British news show.
In 2005, I was deployed and spent Christmas Day that year in the Middle East. But I didn't spend it alone...I spent it with 2500 other service members from the Navy, Marines and Air Force. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to major...and those in the military know that getting a promotion in a war zone is like no other.
When I look back on my years in the Army, I must say it's not the places I've been but the people that I think of the most--people who I now consider family. I have met and served with some of the most caring and committed people, and they have changed my life.
Back in civilian mode, I take every opportunity to tell the Army's story, because it's the soldier's voice that's often not heard...and telling a soldier's story is far more interesting than telling mine any day.