I just attended my ten year West Point reunion in October 2010. While I was there I ran into many old classmates, some still serving, but the majority of them had left the Army to pursue other careers. Many of them were surprised to know that I was still in the Army. I was asked numerous times why I did not get out when I could have as well. I think everyone has different reasons for serving their country, none of them any better or worse than anyone else’s. My reasons for serving have evolved over the years: it first started with a desire to go to college, but since then it has turned into something more. I enjoy being a part of something greater with a sense of purpose and I love leading soldiers.
Many people join to leave home when they are young to travel, earn some money or gain an education. Those were precisely the reasons I first joined the Army. When I was in high school my father told me that I would need to get a scholarship if I wanted to go to college, but he also said college was not an option, I would be going. My father was a career field artillery officer and lieutenant colonel at the time; my mother was a housewife and did not work. I also have two more sisters, so my parents were concerned with paying for school, not just for me, but for all of us. One day when I was a junior my father sat me down and asked me where I wanted to go. I remember saying as far away as possible. We had a honest conversation and he told me that he would try to send me anywhere I wanted to go, but I needed to get a scholarship because they did not have the money. At the time, I really wanted to go to Penn State. I filled out the application for admittance as well as the ROTC application. While I was filling out the ROTC scholarship application, my dad asked me to fill out an application to West Point. I was happy to. I had no idea what it was at the time. A few months later I received acceptance letters from both schools and received a full ROTC scholarship. I was definitely going to be able to attend college, and I was definitely going to use one of these military scholarships to do it.
Since attending West Point and serving in the Army for the last ten years, I have loved being a part of something greater with a sense of purpose. Every day I feel like I am somehow giving back my country. I am proud of the work I have done in the army. As an engineer I have deployed to Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel. I have worked on numerous projects and missions to protect the American way of life, as well as provided basic service in much needed areas of the world. While deployed to Kosovo, a peace keeping mission, I had numerous construction projects to include some bridges to help with the mobility and reducing travel distances for the locals. In Afghanistan, my projects included much needed wells, schools, and clinics from in and around Kabul, down to Gardez. Iraq was a different mission, but my job everyday was still to protect American lives. One of the tasks my brigade had was route clearance of all the Corps main supply routes (MSRs). This was a very important and sometimes deadly job. It was an extremely important part of the fight in Iraq in order for our maneuver forces and logistics convoys to travel on the roads more freely. Lastly, in Israel my company provided the power for an entire base on a classified mission. I have enjoyed travelling and am proud of all the things I have accomplished in the Army.
Last, I also love leading Soldiers and the leadership experience. Throughout my career I have been blessed to work with some of the greatest Soldiers and NCO’s in the Army. While stationed at Fort Bragg, my first assignment, I was a platoon leader of 62 paratroopers. While many of them were younger than me or my same age, I was blessed with the best platoon sergeant a new lieutenant could hope to work with. He taught me that the most important things we do are to take care of Soldiers and inspire them to be great. Sometimes the seemingly worst Soldiers just need a little push or encouragement to be great. I always feel proud when one of my soldiers receives a promotion or is selected for warrant. All Soldiers can be successful if given opportunities to excel. I have also learned a lot from Soldiers throughout my career. As an engineer, I have worked with some of the smartest Soldiers in the Army. Many of the carpenters, well drillers, electricians, and generator operators are more knowledgeable than me on many things, and they have taught me many things throughout my career. I enjoy learning and I know that they enjoy teaching me. They respect me and I respect them for all that they do for our country each day.
My reasons for serving my country may not be the same as yours, but everyone is different. I came from a military family, but I am definitely a much more disciplined and focused person since attending West Point. I love being an engineer and I love inspiring soldiers to be successful. All of these things and more make me feel like I am making a difference and making our world a better place for the future; and those are the best reasons to do anything.
Major Meghann E. Sullivan, Student, Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
The views expressed in this blog entry are those of the author and do not reflect the official
policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S.