When were you drafted or when did you enlist?
I enlisted 2007.
Why did you choose your branch of service?
United States Marine Corps.
What do you remember about that day?
I remember leaving for boot camp excited yet nervous, but once I boarded the bus, I knew there was no going back. Once I had arrived at MCRD San Diego, I immediately questioned what I had gotten myself into as I was greeted with constant screaming. I remember that day being pure chaos, with little to no sleep once things began.
Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?
A happy moment I remember during my time in the service was sometime in 2010 while deployed to Sangin, Helmand Providence, Afghanistan. I remember I was on post eating a pomegranate for the first time picked from a nearby tree, staring up at the stars, and realizing I had never seen so many stars at night. I remember this moment because it was peaceful despite all the chaos and bloodshed around me.
Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?
My military experience gave me an understanding of war and life in the military in general. Before the military, I knew nothing about war or the military, as no one in my family served.
Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?
I don’t know if I had a single “best friend” in the military, as those I spent time with I considered my brothers, but I still keep in touch with those I served with from time to time via social media or phone calls.
Remembering the Fallen: If they are no longer with us, please share a small way in which you remember them or keep their spirit alive– whether that be a funny story, a heroic moment, or something different that might seem trivial to others, but holds importance to you.
I remember those who are no longer with us by holding on to the memories I recall during our time together.
What were the first few months out of the service like?
The first few months out of service felt foreign but also freeing, something how I would imagine a person coming out of prison after years of incarcerated would feel being on the outside. However, since I knew I would depart the military after my injury, I was somewhat prepared for the transition as I signed up for internships that led to a job after my separation from the military.
Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?
My advice for those transitioning out of the military would be to prepare in advance. No one will tell you what to do or where to be anymore, so take the initiative. Start by updating your resume and apply for jobs you want months before you are out of the military, unless you plan to attend university, then start the application process early. Next, figure out your living situation before you are discharged. Decide if you have the financial means to live on your own or if you will need to save by living with family or friends for a time. After this, collect your friend's contact information and social media so you can keep connected once you become a civilian. Finally, recognize that your brotherhood/sisterhood will always be strong despite the distance between you once out of the military, so don't hesitate to reach out to them for support.
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 don’t know what my career life would have been if I hadn’t joined the service. I worked five years at a federal job before realizing that this wasn’t the career I wanted for myself. I then switched on my GI bill to finish my college degree, and I am still in school.