On October 11, 2016, I joined the United States Army Reserves. My first year of college was ideal for an incoming freshman athlete. I attended Citrus Community College in Glendora while playing softball and was a full time student taking four classes. When I was 18 years old, I thought I was on top of the world, not considering the consequences of failing my classes, more so, just not caring at all. All I wanted to do after I graduated high school was party and hangout with friends, not thinking of the consequences these choices come with in the long run. Almost getting kicked off of the softball team, my coach decided to just bench me until my grades were what they needed to be, being a worse punishment. Once spring semester was over I realized that I needed some type of structure and discipline in my life and I starting looking into the military. With so many different branches, I ended up choosing the Army still being hesitant to join thinking about the sacrifices I must make to accomplish this goal. I would be away from family and friends for a long period of time, Having no idea what basic training was going to be like, and the big possibility of being deployed and going to war. Was this really what I wanted to do with my life?
I signed my contract on October 11, 2016 departing to basic training on November 21, 2016. The month I had to spend time with family and friends was a rollercoaster of emotions. The day I departed from California to South Carolina was the most depressing day I have ever experienced because I knew I was going to have to grow up and do this on my own. I had no idea what to expect throughout this whole process and was terrified of what was to come. What I learned over this period of time was responsibility, patience, and humbleness.
So much responsibility was put on me throughout basic training making it extremely overwhelming and stressful. In the end I was so grateful to Drill Sergeant Garrison, who was the one who believed in me and showed me how to build confidence in what I was doing and how to be responsible. He assigned me as the platoon leader, which made me in charge of the head counts, whether we are missing anyone and why, as well as keeping track of everyone’s weapons including my own. Every time someone got in trouble or did something stupid, I was the one to take the heat and needed to suck it up. I was given all the objectives that were needed to be done each day and was made in charge of everything being up to standard, including how the barracks were cleaned. For example, we were on our last task needed to graduate called Victory Forge and we were learning how to patrol sensitive areas. My team and I were set and ready to go, and of course Drill Sergeant Garrison assigned me as the squad leader. I was in charge of planning how, when, and where we were going to attack. My team and I successfully terminated the enemy no matter how stressful it was, obtaining any extra resources needed, and ending this task with my Drill Sergeant pulling me aside, secretly telling me that he was proud of me and knew I could do it. The pressure I experienced has taught me to be more organized and responsible with my objectives in life that need to be accomplished.
Throughout basic training I experienced many different missions and moments requiring me to have an immense amount of patience. It was always “Hurry up and wait,” meaning that we have a time slot that we needed to either be in formation or have something done by, but always took hours for the results or for further direction. Standing in parade rest or attention for two hours straight tends to be frustrating and painful, taking an outstanding amount of patience to deal with. Not every soldier was an ideal soldier, needing more guidance and discipline than others. As Drill Sergeant Garrison would say, “If one of you messes up, you all mess up.” We would get punished for someone else’s wrong doings or stupidity, making it frustrating and hard to like one another. For example, we had just been released for our personal time before lights out, and all the females in my bay were ready to toe the line, which basically is just a head count and weapon count before we go to sleep. The Drill Sergeant came up to our bay and notices my battle buddy’s laundry bag missing so he asks her where it’s at. The private lies to him and says she is doing laundry and that’s the reason it isn’t tied up. She ends up carrying out the lie and he obviously knows she is lying so he takes the whole female bay outside in 30 degree weather and makes us run the entire company building until he was tired of seeing us run. The final result led to us being outside for three hours, the time being 1 am and having to wake up at 4 am to get ready for the day. Being the Platoon Leader, I was the one who received a counseling statement for not having the female bay in order before toe the line. Drill Sergeant Garrison had a talk with me and explained different ways to get through to the soldiers that wouldn’t listen and gave me very helpful constructive criticism. This incident will always stick with me because having to get through the frustration and anger required me to have patience.
The biggest life lesson I can proudly thank Drill Sergeant Garrison for was becoming humble. Before I joined the Army, I was very ungrateful and selfish of the things that I had and didn’t realize how spoiled and blessed I was. This whole process of having to go through basic training alone with hardly any contact from family and friends helped me appreciate them even more. I was able to appreciate my free time because I had such little time to myself and was constantly getting scolded. Once I returned back home after completing basic and my job schooling I was extremely appreciative of just the simple things like actual pillows and different varieties of food. A moment I will never forget is when Drill Sergeant Garrison explained how deployment was and how they had such little supply of resources. He was in situations where he wouldn’t be able to shower for a full month, or he would have to save his MRE (packaged food) for periods of times or sometimes even days at a time. He taught me to always appreciate what I have when I have it because one day I may be in a similar situation as his.
Drill Sergeant Garrison was a huge impact in my life because even though he was extremely hard on me and put an immense amount of pressure on my abilities, he believed in me and he would annotate when he was proud of me, acknowledging my hard work ethic and effort. I admire him for teaching myself, as well as the entire platoon, all these life lessons and putting in the effort to make sure we were tight end soldiers who are ready for the real world. He is definitely a sponsor of literacy and I am proud to say he was my sponsor.