I read this story in the NY Times a couple of days ago, but with all that was going on I wasn't able to get to it; but I think this is very important. The title of the article states, "Why they re-enlist." I believe that the more correct byline would be, "Why They Serve." All of us have different reasons why we came in the military in the first place. Some are more defined after time in the service and time deployed in a combat zone, but I don't think that they change. If anything they become more defined and more important after time served in the military. I know for myself, with every year that has gone by, my reasons for first raising my hand and taking the oath of a commissioned officer have not changed; but rather become stronger and more concreted in my heart.
The quotes that best summed everything up, I think, were from SPC Charlie Harris from Atlanta, GA.
Spc. Charlie Harris is from Atlanta, Ga. He is with the 546th Aerial Support Medical Company. I’ve been in two years, and I re-enlisted for five more years. I’m proud of the soldiers and what we’ve done over here. It’s beautiful how we’ve helped this country to better itself. We liberated them from a cruel dictator, they have the freedom to vote. I was 22 when I enlisted. It was something to do. And I was following in the footsteps of a good friend of mine from high school, Pfc. Jonah Smith. He was killed over here last year. I take courses online, I’m studying for a music education degree. I have a lot of support from home. My family knows this is what I choose to do, what I love to do. I got $7,500 to reenlist, but I don’t do it for the money. If I wanted to make money, I could have done that at home. I come from a rough neighborhood; there were opportunities. But the army has kept me on a real good path. I plan to make a career of it.
First and foremost we fight for our country, to protect her from all enemies foreign and domestic. We also fight to set a people and a country free, to liberate them, to let them taste freedom. Just as generations of those that have gone before us have done. We serve because we believe. We believe in our country, we believe in doing what is right, even though that could demand the ultimate price.
We serve because sometimes it offers a great opportunity for schooling and training. It allows a young man or women to serve their country, to grow into a man or a women, and to gains skills and training for life and for a career. For some it is the only way to achieve higher education. I know I always pushed my soldiers to take as many courses online or at night school as they could. I had many young men who came from poor backgrounds and this was there way to go to college. Many of them now have Bachelor Degree's and I even have one pursuing a Doctorate now. I am so proud of all of them.
We serve because of the friends that we have here. Friends that come from all over the United States, from every walk of life, every race, every creed, and every political persuasion. None of those differences are important though, what is important is the type of person you are, and that is what matters. I have made friends here that I would cross the world to help. We have spilt blood together, we have cried together, and we have fought together. There is nothing I would not do for them.
These are just some of the reasons we serve. They also are reasons we re-enlist, but I think it is more accurate and important to talk about why soldiers serve. Why do these wonderful and courageous young men and women raise their right hand and put on the uniform during a time of war? They are all heroes, and I count myself lucky that I am privileged to command and lead them.