“Many people live their lives and have very little impact on anything. I wanted to do something that made a big difference to a lot of people.”
Gerald Kellar got his first taste of the military life in his college’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. Discovering that the Military could continue to help him pay for his education, Gerald joined the Army full time as an officer.
However, for Gerald, furthering his education meant he would be “in a position to lead fellow Soldiers, while part of a group that has the most important mission imaginable.”
“My entire college education was paid for by the Military, and I currently attend another schooling program completely paid for by the Army Medical Department.”
Gerald is enrolled in the Army’s clinical lab program. While he goes to school as a full-time student (in uniform) and is taught by military and District of Army (DA) civilian instructors, he continues to receive his full captain’s pay and all associated benefits.
At the completion of the yearlong course, he will be a certified clinical lab scientist and lab manager – a field that is in high demand in the civilian world – where he will research cures for deadly diseases.
But Gerald plans on taking his education even further. He also plans on pursuing his Ph.D. in microbiology – which he and his career manager have planned for him to achieve while he serves.
Gerald encourages all members of the Military to pursue education. He sees every opportunity to learn as a good one – especially since the Military encourages Soldiers to take college classes, even in deployable units with programs like eArmyU (an online learning program through which Soldiers can achieve their educational goals).
“There are an incredible amount of career opportunities in the Military. Whatever a person’s interest, they can find something in the Military.”
Coming into the Military, Gerald thought that it would be all infantry units and combatant actions.
What he found was that there were also many other opportunities. He found careers that focus on various fields of research, logistics units that supply the combatant units and training units that form the cadre for the various training centers.
Most importantly, he found a career field he could be passionate about.
“There is no greater, more inexpensive opportunity for life experiences and to see the world than to join the Military.”
Gerald is a firm believer that beyond the great benefits, there are also many other experiences to take advantage of in the Military. His greatest occurred in Afghanistan, when he and his fellow Soldiers provided care to critically injured Soldiers.
This certainly reaffirmed to Gerald why he enlisted in the first place: to help others.
Gerald’s Military Career Timeline
- July 2000: Commissioned as an officer
- January 2001: Attended Medical Officer Basic Leadership Course
- May 2001: Assigned to the 10th Mountain Division – ambulance platoon leader, an 18-Soldier evacuation platoon
- June 2001: Awarded the Expert Field Medical Badge
- October 2001: Treatment platoon leader, responsible for aiding injured Soldiers
- June 2002: Acted as the aid-station officer in charge (OIC) for presidential visit to Fort Drum, N.Y.
- July 2002: Promoted to first lieutenant
- September 2002: Served as the medical platoon leader of a 31-Soldier light infantry medical platoon
- December 2002: Deployed to Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La.
- January 2003: Attended Field Sanitation Course
- July 2003: Deployed to Afghanistan (received the Bronze Star and the Combat Medics Badge)
- May 2004: Served as brigade medical plans and operations officer for the 3,000-plus Infantry Brigade