Jill Wolf

Served in the Army
From 1995 to 1998

Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?
I was stationed at Camp Humphreys, Korea from March 1997-May 1998. For the 4th of July holiday, the Army opened up the base for the local community to come in and celebrate. I had a friend in my unit who had an apartment just outside the gates, and he invited a bunch of us to come over and watch the fireworks. I’ll never forget standing on that rooftop, feeling a strong sense of brotherhood/sisterhood with my fellow soldiers and a profound sense of patriotism — but I was also deeply homesick. I thought, “Few people will ever understand what it’s like to love America and its people, with all its quirks and challenges, like I do in this moment.” I’ve never forgotten it. Every 4th of July I still get emotional thinking about that night on the rooftop in Anjong-re, Korea.

Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?
I think I understand sacrifice and service a little better than my peers who haven’t served. I have such a deep respect for what the people of Ukraine are going through right now.

What were the first few months out of the service like?
I came home from Korea married and with a baby daughter, but I started school as soon as I could. I remember my first college class, an Art History lecture, where I sat in the front row all by myself. I couldn’t figure out why all the other college students sat in the back and talked while the professor was speaking. I seriously considered dropping out. It was very hard; I missed my friends and the sense of purpose the military gave me, and being a new mom at age 21 while being a full-time college student and working was overwhelming. It’s a wonder I graduated, but I did — and I even made the Dean’s List and scored a top internship at a local PR agency.

Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?
I have so much advice, but I suppose it can all be summarized as “know yourself.” Know your worth, be kind to yourself and for god’s sake, ask for help when you need it. In the military we didn’t accomplish the mission without support from medics and fuel teams and cooks and hundreds of others; use that mindset for life after the military. You earned your benefits and respect, use them wisely