Being away from family for months on end, enduring intense physical training and adjusting to a new life of following orders are just a few of the things that military men and women experience while serving. The U.S. military consists of 1.29 million active-duty men and women stationed around the world, according to cfr.org. Meaning, there are a multitude of personal reasons and stories behind why some would have joined the military. Some join for the pay and benefits, some it is their dream, and some join for the honor of serving. Some of these military members are students at the University of Indianapolis.
Army Cadet Blake Hylton served in the Army for three years before he came to UIndy to study communication. Hylton’s reason for joining the military was simple, he said he wanted to join for the benefits, including the educational benefits of the GI Bill. Enacted in 1944, the GI Bill helps veterans, and their family members, pay for college, graduate school and training programs, according to vets.gov. Military members who serve for an extensive about of time, usually a minimum of 20 years are also eligible for retirement and may receive pay.
“The Army has a lot of benefits and it is a great way to pay for school,” Hylton said. “It’s also a great job opportunity. Once you’re in the Army, it can boost you to many jobs in the civilian world.”
While Hylton is in his third year in the military he completed his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Basic training for the Army generally lasts 10 weeks, and there are five stages: Introduction, red phase, white phase, blue phase and graduation, according to goarmy.com. During the 10-week training, recruits will learn basic skills necessary for the Army, such as tactical and survival skills. They also learn how to shoot and march. Because of this training, Hylton said the military is not for everyone.
“You have to be fit for it. It’s just not for some people,” Hylton said. “It’s for those people who can square themselves away and be ready to be in a combat zone at any time, anywhere, and be ready to fight for their lives at any time.”
Throughout the three years that Hylton has served, he said that he has been presented with a lot of opportunities and said if he had to describe the military in one word, it would be eventful.
“I’ve had a lot of great opportunities and there’s also been a lot of opportunities that have gone bad, but it’s all experience and I’ve learned from it,” Hylton said. “I’ve had a lot of great opportunities of training civilians to go on deployments and seeing that I’ve never been on deployment, but I’ve trained them and gotten them combat ready to go to Afghanistan and that was fun. You also have some stuff that goes bad, but you learn from that and get better for the next time you will be in that situation.”
Junior psychology major Alicia Cagney had different reasons for joining the military. From a young age, Cagney said that she knew she wanted to be in the military. On career days, Cagney said she always wanted to hear from soldiers, rather than anyone else. Her desire to join the military stems from wanting to help others, Cagney said. Cagney had originally planned join the Marines right out of high school, but because she wanted to play college softball, joined a program that allows her to train in the military during the summer while she attends school during the rest of the year. Because of this, Cagney currently holds the rank of half-trained Lt. Cagney said she believes softball has given her an advantage in the marines.
“Just the physical fitness aspect, the discipline aspect, the teamwork aspect. All of that stuff [that] came from college athletics helped carry over into the Marines,” Cagney said.
Cagney said she chose the Marines because she felt that it was the most intense and the most respected branch of the military. She said wanted to be challenged during training and with the Marines she could be. She also liked what the Marines stand for, which to her is camaraderie.
“Every person has earned where they’re at. It’s not something that’s easy,” Cagney said. “… There is so much more work put in it than you can imagine. It’s more than just physical. You have to study, take exams. It’s just like being in school, but a lot more intense.”
Of the millions of reasons for joining the military Cagney and Hylton represent two of them. But regardless of their reasons for joining, military members come together to serve the country.
“It’s a great feeling knowing [that] you’re doing something bigger than yourself,” Cagney said. “And hopefully will be able to help others in the future.”