Making the decision to enter military service is no easy task, even for a Military Brat.
In 1990, I was a high school senior in Fort Stewart, Georgia with big crimpy hair, stone-washed jeans, and oversized earrings. It was the look. It was also my senior year of high school, and my aspirations were set on Langston University in Oklahoma. My goal was to major in Journalism, and one day be on television reporting the greatest stories ever told. Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters would be my mentors, and soon I would become a household name like them. Yes, I had it all figured out!
My parents had told me that money was being saved towards my college fund, and with that said I didn’t have any worries. After I had been accepted into Langston, I was given my dorm assignment, as well as the name and phone number of my roommate. She lived in Atlanta and we became acquainted over the phone. It was all very exciting, but reality soon busted through the door. There was not enough money for me to go to Langston.
What? I didn’t understand! All I could do was sit there and cry. My Dad had made a substantial career in the Army, and it was his life. He had suggested to me that I should go into the military. Huh? Was he for real?
The “girliest” girl in the world, who didn’t do any type of exercise, and here he was suggesting that I be all that I can be! Oh my! I quickly balled that idea up and threw it out the window. In the meantime, I decided to work full-time and save all the money I could. It was an ambitious idea, but didn’t exactly work out that way. It was hard to save, and the money I made was not enough to do much with anyway.
One day as I sat at a friend’s house, her phone rang while she was in the other room. She asked if I could answer the phone for her, so I did. Would you believe that it was an Army recruiter? My friend had taken the ASVAB test a while ago and scored very well. The recruiter was anxious to get her enlisted. I explained to him that she was busy at the moment, and she would call him back. The reality was that she avoided him as much as possible!
She had no desire to go in the Army. The recruiter asked if I was her friend, and what was I doing with my life. “Do you have plans to go to college?”
He said the magic word—college. I briefly told him my story and he convinced me to have a home visit so that he could speak with my parents. I tossed the idea back and forth, but decided to do it. My parents—surprised. Me—confused. Yet, what did I have to lose? Not much.
The meeting took place and I decided to go for it. After speaking with my Dad, he said “If that’s really what you want to do, you can do it.” Deep inside, I believe that it was his proudest moment as a father. In addition, he probably questioned if I was actually going to go through with it. Well, at 90 pounds I wasn’t exactly military ready, and failed my physical examination. I had two weeks to gain three pounds.
On the morning of my second attempt, my recruiter made me eat six bananas and drink three Ensure drinks. It worked. I was in, and several months later I was a soldier in the United States Army Reserve. Not only that, but I qualified for the student loan repayment, and the G.I. Bill.
Okay, so I didn’t make it to Langston University. But, I received a degree in Accounting and had a worthwhile career. The best part is that I followed in my Dad’s footsteps and we share a bond beyond father and daughter.
Serving as a reservist allowed me to stay at home and attend college. The training and friendships that I received within the eight years I served will be everlasting. I am proud of what I accomplished, and people cannot believe that a five foot tall, 100 pound “girly-girl” could throw grenades and fire an M-16.
Plan “B” worked for me, and I am glad things turned out the way they did.