One afternoon, the summer before my senior year of high school, I was taking a nap when my sister yelled to me from the kitchen to pick up the phone. When I asked her who was calling, she told me it was someone from the U.S. Army. Instantly, my ears perked up and I immediately wondered what in the world the Army would want with me, a seventeen year old girl.
As it would turn out, it was an Army recruiter looking to sign me up. Ironically, that same week my good friend Christina would get a similar call from a U.S. Navy recruiter. While we were both making plans to go see our respective recruiters, she asked me to go with her to her meeting because she didn’t want to go alone, and that maybe I should check out the Navy too. The Navy recruiter picked my friend and me up from her house on a hot California day in July, and as they say, the rest was history. By the end of the month we had both enlisted in the United States Navy and were scheduled to go to boot camp after our high school graduation.
I made rank quickly in my Navy career, and had a blast doing it. Within the first year of my enlistment, I had been on my first deployment, traveled to Australia, and even met then President, George W. Bush. Being in the Navy was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Whether I was standing watch on Christmas Eve, or volunteering for the Humanitarian relief efforts after the 2004 Tsunami in Bandah Aceh, Sumatra; I never doubted that I was part of something bigger, and I never felt prouder to wear that uniform.
If you are thinking about joining the military, give it serious thought and do your research about which service you would like to enter and what type of job you would like to do. One thing the military offers that you won’t find anywhere else is the Montgomery GI Bill, and take it from me, it is worth it. I am using my MGIB to finish up the rest of my degree, and I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for it, especially in this economy. The military also offers a 100% tuition assistance program while you are active duty, so if you join don’t forget to take advantage of that.
Talk this decision over with your family too; I was still a minor when I joined so I needed my parents consent. If it wasn’t for their support throughout the years, the many care packages, phone calls, cards, and emails, I wouldn’t have been able to get through it without them. Being in the military can at times be lonely and solitary if you let it, so make friends, and you will find that your family will grow because the women and men you will serve with will soon become your brothers and sisters.