According to Task & Purpose, the top 5 reasons an enlisted soldier joined the military includes:
- Adventure and travel
- Job stability and pay
- Escaping a negative environment
- Job training
These are all valid reasons, and I would definitely agree with the #1 reason, but why I joined the Army is a little different.
Why I joined the Army
Growing up I adored my father. He was in the Army, which is how he met my mother, he got out and then became a police officer. When I was younger, he would show me photos of the places that he’s been to and tell stories of the things that he had done. I thought it was all amazing.
My stepfather was also in the Army, he’s actually still in. He showed me what doing the right thing looked like and I’ve always admired him.
My brother joined the Air Force after he graduated high school. For me it was tough to see him gone and going on his on adventures. I was pretty jealous. He was traveling to different countries and experiencing different cultures. Who doesn’t want to do that? He then married his wife, who is also in the Air Force.
Growing up with these men as my role models, I wanted to be just like them. I wanted them to be proud to call me their daughter/sister, and honestly, I still do.
Of course, I didn’t know what being in the military really meant. It looked all tough and cool and as a little girl I was like, “Yeah, that’s what I have to do”.
Love of country
I have also always loved the United States. I don’t know why, no one forced me to or anything. My heart would always swell when I would hear of what great men and women did for this country. My eyes would always tear up hearing the National Anthem. I thought that the United States was the greatest country on Earth filled with moral citizens (my thinking was a little naive).
Growing up in South Florida, there weren’t many service members around, my stepdad is the reserves so he had to drive a good distance for work from where we lived. Because of this, I made sure to let my friends and teachers know that my dad was in the Army, I was proud.
This is all extremely corny but things like that have always meant so much to me and they still do.
I guess I have to go to college??
During high school I joined JROTC and I loved it. I felt like I had a purpose. I loved the regulations and putting on that uniform every Wednesday. At this point in my life I was focused on hanging out with friends and not on my future at all. I tried getting a scholarship for college but I didn’t follow through with it.
After high school, I started going to college. I didn’t know what I wanted to study, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with a college degree, I just went. I often argued with my stepdad about joining the military. He wanted me to wait until after I got my degree and I didn’t care, I hated college and I just wanted to leave. I knew for sure that I wanted to join the military. But I was terrified.
I love being surrounded by things that I know, I’m not a fan of change at all. So, joining the military meant turning my whole world upside down. But for some reason I felt like I had to do it.
I got my degree, now what?
After getting my degree, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I wasn’t competitive enough for the Air Force’s Officer Candidate School, which was my first choice, and I never really thought about joining the Army.
I realized that I was in a tight spot. All my life I’ve worked at a restaurant and in retail. I knew for sure that I did not want to be 40 years old still working in that industry. I was tired of it.
I decided to go back to school for another degree and to join Army ROTC.
This was the best decision of my life.
Despite the irrational fear that I had / still have of change, I basically closed my eyes and just did it. There are times where I have ‘mini panicky’ moments because I’m out of my comfort zone, but I have grown so much since joining ROTC.
I often think about how my life would have been if I joined ROTC right out of high school, when I first started college. I would have been further ahead in my career than I am now and this frustrates me to no end. But I trust that this was the path that I was supposed to take and that this is God’s plan.
The real reason why I joined the Army
So, the real reason that I believe that I joined the Army is because I was called to do it. I believe that a combination of everything pushed me to do this, my family, my love of country and ultimately and most importantly is God. Although it’s cliche to say, I truly believe that honor, duty and country drove me to join the Army.
Even though ROTC wasn’t as tough as going through basic training, I did a lot of things that I didn’t want to do because of fear and I grew so much as a person.
My fears before joining and now
- I left my parents house later in life at 27. So, all my life I have been around family and had them as a safety net. The thought of not being able to laugh and joke with my siblings or having the advice from my parents terrified me.
- I’ve always thought, and still do, that I’m a small young lady and that I can’t do things by myself like visit new places or live on my own. My fear of something bad happening has always prevented me from being more adventurous. I’m not paranoid per se, just a little afraid and nervous about everything. Joining the military forced me to travel by myself and really be more comfortable being alone.
- I’m afraid of flying (if you want to know more about how I handle that, check out 4 Tips to Conquer Your Fear of Flying). So far I have had to fly 4 times, going back and forth from Camp and twice to visit family. Joining the Army just forced me to suck it up and deal with it. Which I am so much better for.
The Army has definitely turned my world upside down but for the better. Throughout ROTC and the couple of months that I’ve been Active, I have met incredible people. I met my husband through ROTC and I finally started a real career. I’m more physically fit than I have ever been, I am learning more every day about my job and about myself. I cannot ask for anything else at this moment.
I feel so blessed to be surrounded by military service members within my family. My brother and sister in law are serving in the Air Force, my husband is serving in the Army and coming this May, my younger brother will be commissioning in the Army as well.
I’m excited to share my journey of being a dual-military couple and to help others going through this life.
If you or anyone you know are thinking of joining ROTC or the Army, I highly recommend it.
If you have any recommendations of what I should write about next please share, I want to write about what you want to read about.
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