Sunday, June 1, 2014


{Hey y'all!  This post has literally been in work-in-progress in my drafts for months.  I know I don't write personal posts that often, but part of having a blog is letting the world see a little bit of you.  That being said, here's a side of me y'all haven't exactly seen before.  It's entirely different than the superficial things like monograms or Lilly Pulitzer or lake days or sunny weather that I usually write about and, even though I love posting about them, this is so much more to me.  If you're not one for long or personal posts, let me apologize in advance.  Here we go.}

These past three years, I've experienced what it feels like to be a part of something bigger than myself.  I've tried and ended up loving things I never even considered before, and have met some absolutely incredible people.  I've learned {and am still learning} how to be a leader from some of the best leaders there are and, most importantly, I've learned that the family I live with isn't the only family I have.

When I started JROTC my freshman year of high school, I had no idea how much of an impact it would have on my life.  I thought I would stay in the program for one year, participate minimally, and end my LET 1 year with the only thing I thought I'd get out of it, the one physical education credit I needed to graduate.  It's crazy how things turned out, because just last month I was trying to sort out with my guidance counselor how to schedule my classes so that I could have as many periods of JROTC as possible while still staying within the state criteria.  Who knew?

On the first day of class, I remember looking around and being disappointed that I didn't have a single close friend in the room.  Little did I know that some of my fellow cadets would later become some of the most important people in my life.  Many of the people in my LET 1 platoon would eventually leave the program, but just as many would continue through.  Thankfully, I was one of these cadets.  It's undeniably been the best decision of my life.  As a LET 1, I learned the basics of JROTC.  I was issued my dress green uniform, participated my first flag detail, marched in my first parade, and attended my first military ball.  I sighed constantly at my inability to properly execute facing movements and basic drill, stressed over the details of my dress uniform, and thought getting promoted to c/SSG {Cadet Staff Sergeant} was the biggest deal in the world.  I learned the meaning of the word "hooah" {anything but no}, how to read a map, and the pay grades and insignia that make up the rank structure.  When I was promoted to c/CPT {Cadet Captain} in the spring, I didn't know what to think.  While I now understand that there's no way I should have had that rank as a LET 1, I also understand that it's the reason I'm still in the program.

Along with the rank of Captain came a staff position.  I assisted the Battalion S-5 and attended a few staff meetings.  As a LET 1, I admired the bond that my upperclassmen officers seemed to have and hoped to one day know it.  I now enjoy sharing that same bond with my fellow officers and staff and can't express how thankful I am to be a part of something that great.  Being a part of staff meant that I had a commitment.  I couldn't quit, because even though I was just a seemingly negligible assistant to the S-5, I had people depending on me.

When I scheduled my classes for my sophomore year that spring, I marked JROTC on my schedule again.  I was informed that as a member of Staff, I would be expected to come in once a week during the summer to learn how to do my job.  I'd be the S-1{adjutant} the following school year and needed to start preparing.  I reluctantly went in several times that summer, but later learned that it was only experience that could really prepare me for the job I had accepted.

Late that summer, I also learned that because of shortages, being a part of staff was now an immediate push to be a part of drill team.  In the beginning, I remember dreading having to go to practices and stressing constantly over trying to fit them into my schedule.  I'm now proud to say that during the fall, all other activities are scheduled around drill practices and competitions, which take priority over all else.  Drill has been one of the best experiences of my life.  Not only have I learned the importance of attention to detail and how to march in step, but I've formed priceless friendships.  It is such a privilege to be part of a group of such tolerant, enthusiastic, and genuine individuals.  We may mess up while counting off, get out of step, and even miss an entire set of commands every now and then {okay, that actually only happened once}, but I wouldn't trade them for the world.  These last two years spent on drill team have been so fulfilling.

The summer between my sophomore and junior years, I attended JCLC {Junior Cadet Leadership Challenge} Carolina.  When I was initially invited, I was apprehensive.  I signed the release forms and packed my ruck sack hesitantly {few tasks have proven to be more challenging than packing 5 full ACUs, PT gear, shower essentials, a sleeping bag, and a flashlight into just one} and met my fellow campers at school early one morning the week after school wrapped up for the year.  Nervously, we headed off to the North Carolina wilderness.  To this date, it has been the best week of my life.  I learned rappelling techniques, completed a land navigation course, worked on air rifle marksmanship and archery, overcame my fear of heights just long enough to survive the high ropes course, paddled my way through a canoe confidence course {came in last but still finished strong}, and did it all proudly in an ACU with an incredible battle buddy and remarkable platoon by my side.  We learned about team building and sharpened our leadership skills, experienced the discipline of getting up early and working hard all day, and even learned a few cadences that sometimes still get stuck in my head.  Along with a unit coin, I brought back with me the courage and leadership skills to help my battalion succeed.

When I found out that I would be my battalion's S-1 again for my junior year, I was elated.  Not only was I in the Command and Staff class, but I was also placed in a respective class as an upperclassman leader.  I was so proud to see my LET 1's faces light up when they finally executed a column left march and stayed on step or memorized the creed.  I watched them learn to properly fold a flag, recite the ranks, and pass their first inspections in Class A uniforms.  I couldn't help but think of what great leaders they would one day be in our battalion and was proud to contribute to their successes.

Since my first year in JROTC, I always admired the Raider team.  Raiders wear ACUs and compete in physical challenges; like PT tests {consisting of push-ups, sit ups, and a one mile run}, litter carries, rope bridges, and ruck marches {through wooded areas... with rivers... carrying 30 pounds of gear... in combat boots}.  Before this fall, I never considered joining the Raider team because I never thought I was capable of it, but through JROTC, I found out that I am capable of so much more than I think I am.  In November 2013, I joined the team and immediately felt right at home.  As the only actively participating female, the lighthearted harassment of my team mates was topped only by the overprotective support they provided me throughout our season.  From killing themselves laughing at my first attempt to low crawl through a sand pit to firemans carrying me through obstacle courses, they've also shown me how great it feels to be a part of a team.  These cadets are now like brothers to me.

Probably the greatest aspect of my junior year in JROTC was Command and Staff.  While I had been the S-1 as a LET 2, this year was different.  We had two new cadre {teachers} and a new motivation to succeed as a battalion.  Our SAI {Senior Army Instructor} gave us the opportunity to lead the battalion, something we had never experienced before.  I was tasked with Military Ball, and worked all year to successfully plan and execute one of the unit's largest events.  Throughout the year, I had the privilege of working with an awesome Chain of Command.  As much as I'm going to miss our LET 4s next year, I am confident that they have prepared us to lead the battalion.  We are set up for success.  It has been such a rewarding experience.  I can't put into words how absolutely incredible it feels to be a part of the battalion's Command and Staff.  We've soared together and failed together.  We've become a family.  A crazy, diverse, dysfunctional, "hooah" {yes, it's an adjective too} family.

So, here I am; one million push ups, countless formations and inspections and briefings and uniform days, 6 drill competitions, 5 parades, 4 military balls, 3 superior cadet awards, 2 raider meets, and 1 incredible experience later.  Not only am I still in JROTC, but it's in me.  The program affects almost every aspect of my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I've learned so much about myself and have become a person I am truly proud to be.  I've defended the program countless times, explaining to countless people {who probably couldn't have cared less} that it's so much more than wearing the uniform on Wednesdays or twirling rifles.  I live by the Cadet Creed and am so proud to be a part of my battalion.

Finally, I am so thankful to say that next year, I'll be leading it.  Earlier this year, I was selected by the Cadre to be Battalion Commander for my senior year.  I'll be promoted to c/LTC {Cadet Lieutenant Colonel} and take on the responsibility for accomplishment of the battalion and care of its cadets.  I know this won't always be easy, but I am confident that with the assistance of my fellow field grade officers {Executive Officer and S-3, two of my very best friends} we will succeed.  I can't express my gratitude for everything the JROTC program has done for me nor can I express my excitement and aspirations for the upcoming year.  It's been an incredible, incredible, incredible three years, and I'm so excited for the fourth.

If you're still reading at this point, you're probably wondering why I even posted this considering it has no relevance to anyone's life but mine.  But, if you take anything away from this, here's what I want it to be: go try something new, something completely unexpected, something you're sure won't matter three years from now, because it just might.  Give new people a chance, people who you don't usually talk to, people who are different from you, because these people just might become your closest friends.  Do things you don't think you're capable of, try things you don't think you'll like, and when you finally realize that maybe, just maybe you've found yourself, take it and run with it.  Become the person you've always wanted to be, even if it's not the person you or anyone else expected you to be.  Trust me, it's worth it.


  1. I have to say that I absolutely love the background of your blog!! I also love the blog too!!! Keeps Blogging!

    1. mSv,
      Thank you! Your blog is one of my favorites. Enjoy your summer :)