It's been 25 years since I boarded that plane for a second trip, taking me back to Fort Jackson, S.C., but I remember it like it was yesterday. I am honored to have served my country and this experience is still one of the most exciting LIFE challenges that I have ever taken on. My father served over 20 years in the military between the Marine Corps and Army Reserve. I remember watching him shine his boots and starch his uniforms for weekend drills and his annual summer camp. I guess you can say that I kind of followed in his footsteps.
In September 1993, I enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard, with intentions of going full-time active-duty Army. Regular Army was only accepting high school diplomas, and me, being the smartest person in the world, had quit school and opted to get my GED. I talked to a recruiter and took my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test. After choosing 68P, Radiology Specialist, for my MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) they attached me to the Texas Army National Guard, 949th BSB. I drilled with my unit for half a year before heading to MEPS (Military Entry Processing Station) in August 1994. The MOS that I thought I had secured was no longer available, and I ended up selecting a registered nurse slot, which was a 91A. I took my oath, collected my paperwork, and boarded a plane to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. BCT was going smoothly until I re-injured my knee (car accident in high school) during physical training (PT). They sent home me with a medical discharge - one week prior to graduation. I was so infuriated with myself that I bawled for days. I thought of myself as a failure. My mother’s words haunted me. “You never finish what you start, Jennifer.” Was she right? I pulled myself together and began hitting the gym five days a week. I was bound and determined to rebuild my strength and endurance, particularly my knee, and next time, I would finish what I started.
In September 1996, I busied myself helping my recruiter put together and secure all the previous military documents that I would need for re-enlistment. A medical waiver was granted with the help of my First Sergeant, 1SG Bentley, and my guard unit. I re-enlisted in November, again took my oath at MEPS, and shipped out for BCT (2nd time) on the 15th of April, 1997. My one change - my MOS was changed to a 75B which is Personnel Administration. The medical field was out. I was going to be one kick-butt pencil pusher! 😁
Read about my military experience in BCT and AIT at Fort Jackson by clicking the links below.
The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard are the armed forces of the United States. The Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components of their services and operate in part under state authority.
The story and views expressed on these pages are my own. Everyone will have a different military experience and outcome. Military icons used are by Nhor Phai, Freepik, Smalllikeart, and Pixel Perfect from Flaticon. Emojis courtesy of Emojipedia. My military dolls were made on a doll maker by eLouai (no longer available) and edited by me using GIMP.