Mackenzie Marion

Served in the Army
From 2014 to 2020


When were you drafted or when did you enlist?
I enlisted in February of 2014. One year after I graduated high school.

Why did you choose your branch of service?
My family on both sides has a long line in the Army. I wasn’t interested in college at the time, I wanted more out of life, so why not follow in my family’s footsteps?

What do you remember about that day?
My dad, at the time, was a captain. He drove to North Carolina to the MEPS office I was at and swore me into the Army. He is now retired and it’s a memory we both will forever cherish.

Describe a happy moment from your time in the service.
Among the many happy moments from my time in service, there is one that stands out. While I was deployed, I worked closely with our interpreter. I asked him why he decided to join the Army, being an Iraqi native. In one simple answer he said, “I wanted to be on the right side of history. I wanted to serve for the country I knew before the war.” This moment changed my entire outlook of what it meant to serve. It struck the passion in me of why I was serving, and it’s why I continue to serve in the veteran space with SVA.

Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?
My military experience changed the way I thought about everything
in my life. It informed me from a different point of view, one that hit closer
to home. Growing up as a miliary kid, my perspective on war and the military only meant to support. When I joined, my perspective changed from support to participating in bigger than myself. Now that I’m a spouse and a veteran I have this 360 degree view.

Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?
My best friend during my entire time in was Julia. From the moment we met, new and fresh at our unit, we clicked. We were both strong willed women who were
good at our jobs. We trained together, roomed together, deployed together, and even after we got home and out of the Army, we became roommates navigating the civilian life together. We still talk often and laugh at all of our wild Army stories.

What were the first few months out of the service like?
Getting out was hard for me. I had gotten home from deployment and soon after
I got out of the Army. I went back to school and felt entirely alone, alienated, and misunderstood. I didn’t have the same interests as the other young women on campus, and I was older by 6 years. I never even tried to fit in because I knew they couldn’t understand me. It wasn’t until I found my chapter of SVA on campus that I had people who just “got it”. I spent most of my time volunteering with non-profits because unknowingly, serving was ingrained in me.

Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?
Transition is tough, but so are you. There are organizations, people, and communities out there that will help. Use your resources and advocate for yourself.

If you hadn’t gone into the service, what do you imagine your career life would have been? Did you explore a different career after service?
I would not have the experience, lessons, worldly adventures as I do now. I imagine I would have gone to school eventually and moved to another state.
While I was in, I was signal. I handled any and all radios known to the Army. I loved it and I was good at it, so good that they asked me to extend my tour (which I did not). After making the decision to leave the Army, I went back to school for something polar opposite of my Army career: event planning. I loved every class I had. I had cooking classes, wine tastings, planned events, and eventually earned my degree. I’ll continue with this career path and I’m back in school now for project management.