Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?:
You did what? Why?” That’s the question I got from my family and friends. I don’t think I had a simple answer for them at the time. I don’t think anyone who knew me in high school expected me to join the military. I don’t remember considering it an option; then again, I swam competitively 4 days a week at the local university and never considered going to college there. I just wasn’t a kid with a lot of foresight, especially in high school. I was coming up on graduation in 1999, and I knew I was expected to do something, but what that was, I wasn’t sure. I’ll never forget the day the recruiters started showing up in our cafeteria. Their uniforms pressed perfectly, their size, posture, tattoos, and overall confidence. They would always hand out stress balls or little nylon backpacks, and if you stopped and chatted with them for a bit, you might score a t-shirt or ball cap emblazoned with “Let the Journey begin,” GO NAVY or USMC or ARMY. Now, I can’t speak for the other kids in my class, but I didn’t have ties to the military. I had no idea about the differences between the Navy and the Marine Corps, let alone any of the other branches. With over 20 years of military service on my resume, now, I’d like to tell you that I did some research or deep soul-searching to make a decision about which branch to join. Still, if I’m being honest, the Navy recruiter was the coolest and most persistent out of them all, so I chose to let the journey begin and begin it did!