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Growing up Around Military Influences

My first exposure to the military life that I can remember was when I was around ten years old. My dad was involved in Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an organization with a focus to find lost people and to be a comfort and helping-hand during disasters, and I would tag along to the meetings. Of course, I don’t remember much of anything, except people dressed in Blues or other military uniforms, eating vending machine snacks, and swiveling on the roller chairs.


Alongside this first experience are the influences throughout my later life. These influences are my oldest brother joining the Army National Guard, my other brother joining the Air Force, and many relatives and friends involved in other military branches. My most recent experience was with the Marine Corps. I have a friend enlisted in the Marines, so I worked out with them a few times, took the practice ASVAB, and even talked to a recruiter with the Navy right next door (literally). When I didn’t feel 100% confident in those options, I talked to the Winona ROTC recruiter. As I’m sure it’s clear to see, I didn’t pick any military branch to enlist in.


However, in honor of Veteran’s Day, I’d like to give a shout out to my family members for serving.



I love hearing your stories of when you were in Germany for the Army. It must’ve been cool to go to the country that runs in our veins. I applaud you for your courage to leave everything behind. I remember when I wanted to drop out of college to join a military branch, and you said that’s exactly what you did. Crazy to think how alike we are sometimes. Thank you for exposing me to an area of your life that brings back good and bad memories.



I know how challenging being in the National Guard was for you, but you stuck it out. After getting sick and giving up your summers, these trials have made you strong. I think it’s funny when you bring home your odd buddies you’ve met. Those friends are forever as you can tell with Dad and his friends. I’m sure you made a difference in someone’s life along the way.



You are a true inspiration to me; you were the main reason I wanted to join the military. You made sure to tell me the Air Force is the best one to join, if I were to. You always say it’s difficult and you might not get paid very much, but the job you could have one day will be worth it. You’re smart and you have God, what more is there to need? You even learned how to play guitar with all your free time, just like Alex.


These three people in my immediate family have brought their military life into mine, unconsciously. I’m grateful that none of them have had to fight on the frontlines and that they’re still with me today. For those who can’t say the same, Veteran’s Day is solely for them. On November 11th, we remember those who can’t be with us and we applaud those who have served and are still serving. The sacrifices they make are for our freedom, and we owe them all.

Gretchen is a junior at Winona State University majoring in Health Ed and Phy Ed with minors in Adaptive PE and Adventure Ed! She enjoys all things outdoors, she's a peanut butter fanatic, and Proverbs 31:26 is her favorite Bible verse. Gretchen is an RA in the resident halls and a Small Group Leader for a campus ministry, and she enjoys all the Lord equips her to do!
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