By Guest Blogger Captain Joel Barba, U.S. Army
Soldiers are just people; same as you. We laugh and cry. We watch sports and play video games. We raise families and love our children. We shared dreams and aspirations when we were school-age children, and somewhere along the line, we decided our journey would best continue in service to our nation. Some Soldiers serve part time in the reserves, some full time in the active Army. Some Soldiers commit to just one enlistment, while others might spend 30 years. Some joined to get lucrative incentives, such as money for college, some joined because they wanted to see the world, some joined out of family tradition and others join for a myriad of reasons. Regardless of reason, all Soldiers, upon graduation from basic combat training, enter a long-standing fellowship and begin a journey that started over 200 years ago.
Let me begin by sharing with you why I chose a career in the Army. Eighteen years ago I was a single father working at a tire store in a small town in New Mexico. I didn’t have any money, trade skills or desire to return to school. Wanting to provide more for my daughter, and find a better path for both of us, I enlisted in the U.S. Army.
My basic training was conducted at Fort Jackson, South Carolina; afterward, I traveled to San Antonio, Texas for 6 months of training as a healthcare specialist. Not long after that, I was off to Fort Benning, Georgia for Airborne school- now, if jumping out of planes isn’t your thing, don’t worry, you can opt out of that.
Was all of this challenging? Yes! But it was encouraging and invigorating to face those challenges after years of mindless tasks, and it was rewarding to accomplish them, expanding my physical and mental capabilities. I learned life skills, a trade, and earned opportunities to continue my education. I became a better me.
After I completed my enlistment, I decided to return home and leverage my education benefits toward a degree. I realized while in school I wanted to go back to the Army, so I joined the ROTC program. The Army provided me structure, discipline and focus, and through those traits, I graduated from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi with a BS in Communications and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, specializing in military intelligence.
Fast forward to today, I find myself a Captain, the Commanding Officer of the Winston-Salem Recruiting Company. Throughout my journey, I’ve forged friendships and bonds with so many wonderful people; Soldiers and civilians alike. I’ve traveled to places I would have never thought possible when I was back in New Mexico. I’ve grown as an individual, a teammate, an Officer and a father, and I truly believe my service in the Army is most responsible for my success and prosperity.
I highly encourage any young person to talk to a U.S. Army recruiter to review options and explore the benefits of service. You may find yourself on a journey like mine.
*Sponsored by US Army Recruiting Winston-Salem