Embarking on a New Journey

Genesis Vasquez

This past summer, seniors Elizabeth Castro, Battalion Commander, Anthony Labrado, and Salvador Colunga went to Basic Training (BCT). Many citizens take on the role of being a soldier for the United States through the Army, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force, or Navy. Some of those people do it for various reasons such as: it is their dream, to escape dangerous living circumstances, to get education benefits, to set an example, or to show others that they are able to overcome anything.

“As I got older, I saw and heard women getting mistreated because they couldn’t be in any combat MOS’s or go to Ranger school,” said Castro, “This was my motivation to join the military. I wanted to show to my parents that being part of the Army is not only meant for males, but for women too.”

Deciding what branch to join may be difficult at the beginning because each branch offers some things that is different from the others. Labrado initially wanted to join the Marine Corps because he wanted to be on combat field after seeing a commercial that showed that. After getting more information about what the Army offered, he decided to enlist. Overall, these four students joined the Army because it offers most job opportunities.   
“I chose the army because it offers a wide range in jobs to choose from that offer a solid future for a multitude of civilian jobs,” said Colunga.

Aside from joining the military because these students wanted to escape the harsh conditions in their environment or to get a better future, Phoenix and JROTC has shaped their decision immensely.

“Phoenix shaped my mentality in joining the military because it made me start thinking about becoming an officer,” said Sosa.

As their ship off date came closer, these students had to prepare themselves mentally and emotionally. Three of them were in a program called Future Soldier Training, which helps future soldiers get physical training. It also gives courses that will help the members get more prepared for things they will do during basic.

The four students also had the challenge of having to be away from home for a long time. This can be a huge difficulty for anyone that leaves their home for the first time. Self judgment can be another problem because some may start to doubt if they are capable of going through this training.

Colunga asked himself, “What if I don’t have what it takes?” when he was leaving.

Some difficulties that the students faced while their time away were homesickness and people that were unmotivated. The people that were undisciplined made it difficult for the others because they would act inappropriately.

“I hated some of the people that were there however. They joined the Army for the wrong reasons and they had all the trainees caught up in childish high school drama,” said Labrado.

The lessons they learned helped them immensely on how to better prepare for anything. At the end of their training they were able to see how they outgrew many things and how mature they became. Castro, Labrado, Sosa, and Colunga were all able to get a different perspective on life, not only through a soldier’s eyes but with a young adult mentality.

“I loved the lessons I learned while I was there. The training provided me to have a new outlook on life and now I find myself to be more resilient,” said Labrado.

On the other, some of the things they loved not only consisted of the lessons, but of the grenades they threw and the guns,

“I loved throwing the hand grenades and sudden rush of adrenaline you get before,” said Sosa.

The decision to join the military is of any individual that wants to do it, but if they are seventeen years old they need their parent or guardian’s approval and signature for the paperwork. The guys had it easier because their parents approved of their decision, but for Castro it was more difficult.

She had to explain to her parents that the military was not only for men, but for women too. They also had the typical stereotype that if you are in the military it automatically associates the individual that is enlisted with being sent to combat.

“My parents were not okay. They were all mad at me for even bringing it up because they always thought that no women was allowed to join. They had the fear that I was going to be sent to war. They were not okay with it, and they are STILL not okay with it,”” said Castro.

Now that all four students have graduated from BCT, they feel more confident in themselves, have more discipline, are more physically fit, and got out of their comfort zone.

The next step after BCT, is to go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT). AIT is completed after BCT to get hands on training to what their military position is. Labrado, Colunga, Castro, and Sosa are all looking forwards to going to AIT to get more training and new memorable experiences.

These students now attend drill once a month for a weekend, and will be going to AIT in the summer of 2016. Labrado will be applying to West Point Academy.

Updated: 12/11/2015