Sunday, June 21, 2009

I Joined the Army National Guard

On May 21, 2009 I swore an oath that "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of Mississippi against all enemies, foreign and domestic," and enlisted into the Army National Guard.

Since enlisting, I've been getting a lot of questions and so I thought I would cover the standard ones here.

1. Do you have to go to boot camp?

Yes. It's called Basic Combat Training and I have to attend that plus Military Occupation Specialties (MOS) training or Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

2. How long will you be gone for?

Basic and AIT will run about 4 months. I will be away from my family for a very long time and miss them dearly. I will have limited ability to contact them and after 9 1/2 weeks of Basic they can come visit during graduation. Other wise, I will not have much contact during that period. I think I will have more freedom to call or possibly even email during AIT, but I'm not sure.

3. Where will you be at?

Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for both Basic and AIT.

4. How long is your commitment to the Guard?

8 years.

5. Will you go overseas?

Yes, it is very likely. I am with the 288th Sapper Company out of Houston, MS. They have been deployed to Iraq at least twice since 9/11.

6. What will you do in the Guard?

I chose 21-B, Combat Engineer as my MOS and I will learn to build structures and blow them up in combat situations.

7. Will you be an officer?

Not currently. I have enlisted as an E-4 (Specialist) because I have a college degree but have not decided about becoming an officer if given the opportunity. Officer Candidate School (OCS) represents a large commitment for both me and the military. I would prefer to learn more about the Guard before deciding on becoming a leader in the Guard.

8. Are you quiting your job?

No. I will return to work with FNC Inc. once I have completed my training. FNC has been extremely supportive of my decision and I cannot thank them enough for everything they've done.

9. Is Corinne ok with this?

Yes. Corinne and the kids are very proud and excited for me. It was a decision we made together and she has always been supportive.

10. How old are you?

Surprisingly, I get this almost every time I tell someone or they find out I have joined. I'm 31 until January. The cut off age for the Army is 35.

11. Was your dad in the military?

Yes. My dad was in the Air Force as a MP during Vietnam and my grandfather was a Marine during WWII.

11. Are you crazy/stupid/suicidal?

Uh, No.

I've been thinking about the answer to this one for a while and have been answering it a little bit differently each time.

Basically, joining the military is something I've always wanted to do. I almost joined right out of high school, almost joined after college and almost joined before my first child was born. School, family and career have a way of moving priorities and setting paths for you. And yet despite all of these things, the desire to join has always stayed with me.

When I turned 30, I realized that I may never join and that I'd regret it for the rest of my life. As it is, I'm very much regretting not joining earlier. This has not been an easy decision nor one that I made on a whim because I was feeling "old" or having some sort of 30 yr. crisis. I have been physically training for over 6 months and we have been financially preparing as a family for over a year.

Yet, this still doesn't answer why.

I love this country. I know the complaints and I have plenty myself but there is no other country that values freedom and equality more than we do.

Many people take this country for granted (both red and blue states), but I am not one of those persons. I love it and I'm willing to sacrifice and fight for it, to keep it safe and to ensure my children have those same rights or even take it for granted if they so choose.

There are lots of ways to serve your country and I make no judgement one way or another. But for me this is the true test of my commitment. How much do I love it? How much do I mean it?

Enough to enlist and to accept all of the things that come along with that decision.


Chip Hawkins said...

Congratulations, Kent. I am both proud and happy for you. Chip Hawkins

Rachel said...

I think that is wonderful. Thank you for your commitment and dedication to making our nation a better place for us and our kids. I am proud of you, and Corinne too.

Paul Small said...

Congratulations on weighing carefully through the enlistment process. I work for a company affiliated with the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia and I would like to link your blog to our Facebook Fan page.

Blog Owner said...

Chip and Rachel, thanks and congrats again to you both. Corinne and I are really excited for y'all.

Paul, feel free to link although I'm curious as to how you found it.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to learn more about your experience since I'm in a similar position: 34 years old, husband, father, working professional. For the past 4 months I've contemplated joining the ARNG/NC, so I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to speak with you further.

Many thanks! - Jim -

Blog Owner said...

Send me an email at kentavos at hotmail dot com and I'd be happy to answer anything I could.
You may also want to get on the National Guard Forums. They were pretty helpful for me.
I'm sure you may know this already, but 35 is the age limit for joining the Guard, so you'll want to make a decision soon.

Corinne said...

Sigh. I, too, am proud of you. I am starting to wonder about this whole being gone thing, though. Not perfect. Not that you can do anything now, though--you are property of the US government. Heh heh.

Jennifer said...

I hope your experience with the military is safe and meaningful. I really admire your commitment to honor this conviction, and I admire Corinne and your kiddos for being open and supportive of you. Thanks for being a role model, Kent.

Blog Owner said...

Jennifer, if anything you and Scott are the role models for me. I've always been amazed at how y'all handled his deployment with twins no less!

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