Pvt. James Alaniz: I've always wanted to be in the Military. I'd grown up, always, you know, Halloween, I was the GI Joe.
I'm Pvt. James Alaniz, and I'm 11B Infantryman. My grandpa was a POW in World War II. He was infantry. He was captured for three years. I've really looked up to him for being in the Military. It's great that I can carry on the tradition that he put forth. I grew up in wartime. I needed to serve my country.
We get free room and board, and it's not like a 50-man barracks. It's just like an apartment; we have our own room. Me and my roommate share a kitchen and a bathroom, but we both have our own rooms. It is nice to have the free laundry. We have a common area where there's a big-screen TV, and we can just hang out. There's pool tables and foosball tables, and there's places outside where we can barbecue. I'm very excited that I don't live at home.
My parents are pretty surprised that I get 30 days of paid vacation every year. There's lots of benefits that we get. They pay for our health insurance, life insurance, our dental insurance. Since they pay for all this, my paychecks go toward me. I pay for stuff to fix up my jeep, DVDs, my girlfriend she's pretty expensive. I'm the first one of my high-school buddies to have a flat-screen plasma TV that I play my Xbox 360 on.
Another reason I joined was because it gave me an opportunity to pay for college myself. My friends are paying close to $60-$70,000 in loans, and I'm getting paid to go to college. You can earn college credit for military schools and training that you've done. I'm going to use my college degree to help me become an officer.
The Army is a big part of my future. It's already opened opportunities I wouldn't have without it.