Life/ Military

Why I Joined the Military

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There has been a few people that have asked me why I decided to join the National Guard.  There are only a few people really know that it was something that I had really wanted to do since I was in high school.

When I was 17 and a senior in high school, a recruiter for the Army National Guard came and spoke to my English class.  I was intrigued by everything she was saying.  At that time, I didn’t know who I was, and had no clue to where my future was headed.  The key phrases that stuck out to me then were “pay for your school,” “help find a job that suits you” and “make you physically and mentally stronger.”  I had no plans for what I would be doing after high school, and didn’t even know what I’d even want to study.  I had no direction.  I felt like my life was a bit meaningless and I hadn’t really accomplished anything worthwhile.  It seemed like this would give me a purpose, something really meaningful to do with my life.

The thought of becoming a soldier was enticing. I always looked up to those that served our country, to me it was one of the most honorable things one could do. Military life was something I wanted.
The problem was, I was extremely insecure, reserved, and overweight.  The thought of getting yelled at during basic training was a bit terrifying because I was so shy, and the thought of so much physical activity was not exactly appealing…I hated exercise and LOATHED running…and they do a lot of running! Although I wanted to get in shape, I didn’t want to go through the process of getting there. I was lazy and hated activity too much.  And I was too afraid to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself physically. I came to the conclusion that I just couldn’t do it, I’d probably pass out after running a tenth of a mile.
Fast forward a few years to age 19-20.  I was enrolled in courses at the community college, but still had no real direction for the future.  But I still had the desire to better myself and do something meaningful.  I saw an ad for the Guard, remembered the recruiter from high school and started researching it again.  The benefits were great, I really wanted to get myself in shape and better my character, and I still had that desire to be a soldier.  I sent in for an informational DVD on the Guard and watched it numerous times.  I watched the segment about basic training over and over again, and it scared me, but I also thought “this will make me so much tougher!” I watched it enough that I nearly had it memorized, and told myself I could do it.
I was still overweight and hated exercise though. I told my parents that I was contemplating the idea of joining and they were very honest with me in telling me the fact that it was very physically and mentally challenging, and that I would have a very hard time in basic (if I could even get through it).
And they were right. The thought of running made me cringe.  But I set out to prove them wrong and take the steps towards preparing myself for enlistment.  I talked to people on the forums about preparing physically and slowly started to make myself run a little every day.
It was tough.  I could barely run at all.  I made it a goal to try to run 0.25 miles without stopping. Then when I could, 0.50. Then 0.75, and eventually I could finally run a mile without stopping.
This was all on a treadmill. But I was still working hard and even was able to run 2 miles without stopping once.  And due to the running, I started to drop weight.
This was where my focus shifted.  I was elated by the comments I got about my weight-loss. I had never been thin before, and it felt good to have others pay attention to me.  For the next couple years, my life revolved around weight-loss and my appearance. I was too focused on the superficial, and the attention I was getting that I had never received before.

After that, I met my then-boyfriend, and I moved to Texas and he became my world.  My life revolved around my relationship.  Any more thoughts about the National Guard didn’t stay for very long because I didn’t want to leave him. I was also in a financial rut at the time. The economy was bad; him and I had both been laid off from jobs, and it was difficult for either of us to find work. Eventually, I needed to work two jobs.  Leaving wasn’t really an option when the bills added up to be larger than what my paycheck would be.

I’d see other soldiers and envy them, and think that I had missed that train. But I wrote it off as a pipe dream and kept it to myself that I still wanted to enlist.

A few years later we ended the relationship and I met my current boyfriend.  I had kind of forgotten about wanting to join the Guard until I started thinking more about our future together, and wanting to return to college. One night, him and I were discussing the fact that I wanted to return to school but didn’t have the funds to do so.  I made the comment that if I had joined the National Guard when I had wanted to that would have had an easier time paying for school.  I talked about how I had really wanted to do it for a long time, for more than just the benefits, and he had asked “Well, why don’t you?”

That opened the door again, and I started researching once more.  The more I read and thought about it, the more I realized how much I still wanted it, and that if I didn’t try now while I still could (before I get too old), then I would always be wondering, and looking back and wishing that I had.

So I got in contact with my local recruiter, and started the process of joining, and on August 12, 2014 I enlisted into the Texas Army National Guard.

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I may have been just a bit emotional that day when I was on my way home.  In the past twelve years, I had entertained quite a few different ideas for what I wanted to do in my future, but this was the one thing that had remained a constant in those twelve years.  Well, that and become a Broadway star…but that’s a bit more like a pipe dream! 🙂

So, in a week and a half, I will be celebrating my 30th birthday, and the day after I will be returning to MEPS at Fort Sam Houston one last time to ship out to Fort Jackson in South Carolina, where I will be for both Basic and AIT, for a total of 20 weeks.  It will be difficult to be away from home for that long, but I am looking forward to starting this new journey 🙂

<3 Jordan


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