Write On: MY DAD
December 30, 2023
Essay by: Ja’von Huston-Joyner
Roseau Community School
My father is a pretty cool guy and I learned even more about that when I interviewed him. I didn’t know much about his time in the military before I interviewed him, but he has a lot of accomplishments and has gone to a lot of places I never knew. He learned a lot from his time in the military and has met a lot of amazing people.
My dad, or as I'll be referring to him as, Charles, served actively from June 2000 to August 2007 and served in the reserves from June 2007 to December 2009 and served in many places like North Dakota, Korea, Italy, and North Carolina and several other places. Since he was in 10th grade he knew he wanted to be in the military because he knew that where he lived there wouldn’t be many opportunities for him to get a good job, so he wanted to learn a job or a trade and all of the other benefits from the military. When he told his parents and friends about it they weren’t surprised. His parents were both in the Air Force before him and his friends had known his parents were military people. When I asked if the benefits were worth it he said: “Yes and no,” elaborating that the benefits are worth it and are amazing, like school benefits and pay benefits but you have to work extremely hard for them and time spent serving can have serious mental effects. He suffers from PTSD and anxiety from his time serving to this day, 16 years later.
However Charles says he would do it again and he says his biggest regret about serving was leaving when he did. He met a lot of amazing people and, his words, not mine, “a lot of a**holes.” What he told me was that joining the military speeds up your growth as a person and it reaffirms your morals. If you join being a good person with strong morals, you will leave a good person with even stronger morals, but if you go in a rude and angry person you will leave an even angrier and a worse person. When asked about the process he said that he went to an airport, flew to Texas, did “medical stuff” and basically got yelled at for 3 weeks. He talked about how he had to stay in a bunk room with the same 4 people for weeks at a time.
Charles quickly became a staff sergeant after scoring in the 97th and 90th percentile on the test required to become one and he quickly got to the rank he needed to take the test extremely quickly due to exceptional work. This is what he said was his great accomplishment in the military which is saying a lot due to how many awards he got in service. When interviewing him, he himself didn’t know the amount of medals he had. The ones he could remember were the Distinguished Graduate Award, The Leadership Award, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, 3 Accommodation Medals, and 3 Achievement Medals. This is an insane amount of medals and awards for the seven years he served. When asked what is one word he would use to describe his service he said “Exceptional” which this reaffirms.
Charles had a lot of good times but a lot of hard times. He has talked to me outside of this interview about how hard it was when he was deployed during the war in Afghanistan. “It was hard to basically hear people dying but having to ignore it and sleep. You learned how to sleep anywhere or else you’ll be mostly asleep when you’re on guard or lookout.” He also, like stated earlier, got PTSD and extreme anxiety from events and it made it harder to trust people. Despite all this, my father said that he would join the military again.
The benefits were the main reason my father joined and he says it’s the reason why many others joined. “Most people don’t join the military because they want to protect the country, they want a job. They want to learn a skill or a trade. They want the free education and the good pay.” The benefits are amazing. You get good pay, you get a free education and if you want to get a further education you get one or two thousand dollars per month for your education. “It’s better than just going to college. If you want to learn, let’s say, computer science. You can get a military education and if you want to get a further education you get to go to college without being in debt until your 50.” He believes that if you want a good education and you want to not go into debt and really want to work for it, join the military, the Air Force specifically, he says. “Don’t listen to recruiters, they say a lot of B.S. unless it’s an actual recruiter.”
My father is an extremely distinguished former military officer, earning many awards. He enjoyed his time in the military as a whole, and he recommends it, mainly the Air Force or the reserves, for those who want the amazing benefits and are willing to work for them. It was amazing to interview him and learn more about his history in the military.