23 May 2014

Thankful For Those Who Risk It All

Thank You Soldiers!

I wanted to find a way to honor the men and women who fight for our country and keep us safe every day. They risk it all so that we can wake up to the freedoms that we take so easily for granted.  They stand for and protect freedoms like the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and freedom of religion.  They believe in democracy and love their country so much that they are willing to perish if they must.  This Memorial Day weekend is my brother in law Kelsey's birthday and we honor him every day because we are so proud of the man that he is.  

Here is an interview he graciously did for me even though his precious twin babies are only 3 weeks old!  I so appreciate the time he took to answer my questions and I am so thankful for his service in the army.

Kelsey, how old were you when you decided to become a soldier?  Was it your family legacy or something deep within?  What is your title and rank and what are some of your duties?

1. So I was 28 when I decided to join. I was actually outside the average age for who joined the Army at that time. But with 9-11 the military had a huge surge in people wanting to join. At that point in my life I was in a bad place and seemed kind of lost. I had a huge sense of national pride at that point and wanted to do my part for my country. I never really though of it as continuing my families legacy in the military until years later. Then I wanted to know all I could. My grandpa was in the Navy and served during WWII. My dad served during Vietnam though not in direct combat. Both of them were Officers while I decided to become a Non-commissioned officer (NCO). I've even traced some of my ancestors back to the civil war. So it's definitely in my blood. Currently I hold the rank of SFC (sergeant first class) and have 12 years of service. I work as an instructor at Ft. Dix NJ and I am part of a training Brigade that trains service members who are headed overseas to some destination.

In this country we take freedom for granted each day, which freedom do you hold the most dear and why?

2. Right to bear arms. This country was formed and defended by men and women who had this right. I believe without it then the others like religion an speech can be taken away from us. The government should fear the people, not the other way around. We as a country would never let our government take over. But, if you look at history, when an aggressive government wanted more control of its people because it feared them they took away its way to defend themselves.

Kelsey, you are now a Dad of twins, does this make being a military person harder or easier or both?

3. I haven't been back to work since they have been born. Looking ahead I think it's going to be a bit harder. Their going to be on my mind all day. And now instead of being able to see them any time I want, I'm going to have to wait until I get back each day. Plus i still have 8 years left before I reach 20 and can safely retire and collect a pension at 60. I know at some point I'm going to have to mobilize and end up away from my family for possibly up to a year. And that's when it would be real tough.

What is the best part of military life?  What is the hardest?

4. Best part of military life is the experiences. There is always something new. I've visited countries the average American doesn't get the chance to. I've met so many new people during my 12 years. I came to Jersey on a whim and eventually met my wife, settled down and now have 2 lovely loud babies. The worst. Being away from family and friends. When a past unit I was in mobilized back in '02 I was basically gone for 21 months. Letters and pictures allowed me to still have hope that there was some civility back from the cruel hell I was in at the time.

Do you want to pass down a life of serving your country to your children or would you rather they choose a different path?

5. I definitely encourage them to choose their own path. But if they go the military route I would prefer they take a position that they can transfer into skills they can use in the civilian world. The military offers plenty of oppurtunities to those that earn them. It's cool to think that they would be another part of a long line of my family that has been in the military, but I also would like to see them make a career and not struggle like I did as a young man.

If you could clear up one misunderstanding about the gov't, or the army, or military life what would you say to people reading this about the job you do?

6. Good question. I could go deep into each one of those. I'll talk a little about military life. It's definitely a whole new world and there is such a dark side to it. There is a lot to explain with it and to me personally I feel it is quite a few years behind where we are in today's society. If you look at women, minorities, and gay/ lesbian service members. They were all at some point segregated and discriminated against and not allowed to serve until fairly recently. But if you look at American society it is illegal to discriminate against these same groups. You would think a service that fights for these rights wouldn't be the last to allow them to fight and serve. Personally I feel If you love your country and want to join the service, who cares if you're black, brown, a woman or like a person of the same sex. 

Thank you so much Kelsey for doing this interview on minimal sleep now that the babies are here!  I owe you a batch of brownies!  We salute you and thank you for all you do!  Happy early Birthday too!  God has truly blessed you this year!


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