I never wanted to enlist, but I did. I served four years in the United States Army as an engineer diver. I went to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, attended specialized training in Panama City Beach, Florida and was stationed at Fort Eustis, Virginia, in addition to a nine-month deployment in Kuwait. My military experience was an overall great one, something that I believe I needed in order to become a fuller person.
I never wanted to enlist, but I, just like every service member, had a reason for joining our nation’s military. From other service members I rarely heard “It was something I’ve wanted to do my entire life,” or at least more rarely than the general public would think. The entirety of my father’s side of the family was in the military, and as a teenager, I thought to myself, “I want to create my own path.” Then I failed out of college and was stuck in some unfulfilling jobs. A few weeks after my 21st birthday, I signed a four-year contract. This part of the military experience is vital and is often overlooked. I believe it should be talked about more. The reason why we do something always has an impact on the experience we have with it.
I never wanted to enlist, but as soon as I put my foot in an Army boot, I felt a sense of belonging. I am not sure if it is something actually in my genes, the way I was raised or maybeI was just brainwashed, but I felt right at home. The marching, the cadence calling, the early morning runs, constant haircuts and getting yelled at, I needed it. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it,but I needed that structure. Since leaving the military, life has reminded me that freedom can be the ultimate prison. It can be very difficult to discipline yourself and create structure in your own life.
I never wanted to enlist, but I’m grateful for putting in the hard work to get through the training for my specific job. I believe my job is what made my experience so good. There are only about 150 divers in the entire Army, all spread throughout five or six different units, so my company was very small. Everyone was close; we all looked out for each other and worked for each other. My leadership was constantly preaching ways to better ourselves as soldiers, including: financial classes, college education, relationship health and even spiritual and emotional health. I worked with good people, and good people always improve your life. I would say I miss those days, but I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy with my decision to leave. Find something worth working for, find people worth being around and make the most of every day.