Life in the Military

Individual Growth

A military career can offer you the chance to build expertise in a variety of personal and professional skills areas. As you grow as an individual, you’ll gain experience that can help you excel in the Military and beyond.

Endless Enrichment

Joining the Military is a big commitment, but serving doesn’t mean putting personal growth on hold. The truth is, everyone who lives on base, or has access to one, will have a range of education, wellness and entertainment options to help them feel enriched, empowered and fulfilled.

Length 1:05 View Transcript


Being around the base has helped me grow as an individual both emotionally and mentally. We have so many resources whether it's the education center because it provides a way for you to find your path in your educational aspirations. It's nice to have the library to have an environment on base for self-betterment and growing through the knowledge that's available to you. In that resource the arts and crafts center is nice to have around because you have that opportunity to delve into different hobbies and try different passions and also grow with the people around you and create new relationships. The opportunities are endless, you can build your education toolbox as much as you want and you will get nothing but support. I think, I definitely feel more in control of my life due to the communication skills and personal growth skills that I've acquired in my short time in the military so far.

Building Confidence

In the Military, there’s no shortage of experiences that can strengthen self-esteem.

Jada Madson
Jada Madson Staff Sergeant | Army

“My job is very rewarding, and the skills I’ve developed in the Army, like public speaking, staying organized and management, have benefited my life.”

Building connections in the Military

Staff Sgt. Jada Madson understands the responsibility of being a section chief in the U.S. Army and her individual impact on the overall mission. It’s on Jada and her team to work together to protect fellow Soldiers on the ground.

She credits the Military for giving her the opportunity to grow and gain the confidence to take on those responsibilities and be more vocal — both in and out of uniform. “The increased responsibilities that I’ve gained in the Army broke me out of my shell,” she says. “I’m not afraid to speak my mind anymore.” Getting to learn a variety of skills is just one of the reasons Jada enjoys being in the Military. Another is the impact she’s had on her team and the satisfaction she gets from being a mentor and seeing her crew succeed. “It makes me feel so good when somebody that I supervised advances in their career because of my training,” she says.

Constant Learning

Learning doesn’t just happen from a textbook. Discover how these service members have enriched their lives and expanded their knowledge through secondary education and on-the-job experiences.

Marissa Airoldi
Marissa Airoldi Airman 1st Class | Air National Guard

“Tuition Assistance allows me to focus on becoming the best dentist I can be while not having to stress so much about how to pay for the future I so desperately want.”

Marissa studying in front of a computer

Marissa is taking advantage of a tuition waiver provided by the Connecticut National Guard Bureau for all state colleges, meaning her higher education isn’t costing her anything. She’s also taking advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), which provides a stipend to pay for her textbooks as well. Marissa says the ability to focus on her academics and her military career without the financial burden is invaluable.

“The benefit of getting to go to school [with the help of financial assistance from the Military] made me a better person,” she says. “I can focus solely on doing my best work, both in my job and at school, without having to worry about debt or student loans.”

Part-Time Service, Full-Time Growth

The Army National Guard has given Cpl. Amayah Littlewolf the confidence to grow not just as a Soldier, but as a mature young adult who makes her mother, Wenona Kingbird, very proud.

Length 1:21 View Transcript


When I first joined the guard I was pretty shy and not very confident because I thought like wow, I really don't belong here, like I'm never gonna make it in this. And then I went to the basic training and I graduated like one of the top students. I went to advanced individual training and I graduated one of the top students again and then I've just been excelling, and like whatever I do. I feel like I've gained a lot of confidence and some really really really good friends, they're my girls, ,y second family she's grown a lot as a soldier my confidence in her is also grown and I I know that she could handle herself I think a really big goal that's always been something that I want to do is come a noncommissioned officer like an e5 sergeant once you become an NCO you lead people and you better than guess soldiers so you're almost like a mentor I really think the military path for her is something that just fits with her it's just clicked I just see her light up when she talks about it it smells over into her everyday life I mean what parents set out for their children to do and it's a goal I feel that the military is been a big big part of that.

Becoming a Leader

Leadership doesn’t just mean directing those under your command, it also means mentorship and ensuring others have the skills they need to become capable leaders, too.

David Perez
David Perez Captain | Marine Corps

“I’m responsible for the Marines and ensuring that they’re set up for success, not only in their career, but in their civilian lives.”

David Perez leading a class

As far as responsibilities go, Capt. Perez is keenly aware of the influence he has on his Marines. “Being a leader is more than telling my Marines what to do. It’s about mentoring and helping them figure out what’s right for them, educating them on what’s about to come. And then continuing to talk to and mentor them — you’re a leader for life.”

Capt. Perez strives to make a positive impact on the lives of his Marines by giving them purpose and encouraging them in various aspects of their lives, whether that’s making certain they complete their professional training and certifications or that they sign up for their educational benefits.

Leading Together

Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Harms knows support can come from any individual, regardless of rank. And his parents couldn’t be prouder of what this network has done to help him progress throughout his career.

Length 1:26 View Transcript


As soon as you step into a new unit you're looking for Mentors. Sometimes you have people that are 40 years old working for you and you're 23, and those people have a wealth of experience. You're still technically the boss but they're the people that you lean on for most of your decision-making. So you learn to be humble right away and in how you go about making really critical decisions for the United States. And you learned that anyone can have information that can help make a situation better. So the most junior person, the most senior person in a unit can be your coach through a situation. It's a very small community of people that you grow and lean on for all sorts of issues in your life.

 I love that he has built a community for himself here. It was kind of how we function as a family and he's kept it up, so I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to meet the people that have taken over for me. That are growing my son through adulthood and it's special it's really a wonderful thing as a parent to look back and look at your kids and feel like wow we made good choices in his life. I just couldn't be any prouder of them.

Embracing Diversity

Today’s military places great value on inclusion and an exposure to a wide range of cultures, diversity and related experiences.

Religious Diversity

See how the U.S. Army provides for its Soldiers and helps cultivate an environment of religious diversity.

Length 3:15 View Transcript


So I was born and raised in Senegal but then later on my family came to United States. My culture and everything are related and based in Islam religion and culture. So I was actually raised Roman Catholic.  Originally as I grew up I started learning more about my family's history. My ancestors were Vikings. I am the the son of a Nigerian father and Dominican mother so I was born from University uh molded by it you could say.

The United States is considered a Melting Pot. So we have all these traditions cultures beliefs, it's become part of who we are but at the same time a lot of those pieces are separate. Somebody else's beliefs are completely different from my beliefs, but that's okay. And I think the religious diversity piece is also honoring those differences, celebrating those differences, respecting those differences exactly as I would honor celebrate and respect my own beliefs.

I think it's it's super important that soldiers feel like they have their freedom they're not going to be pressured ,you know. From their leadership or anyone to believe a certain worldview. The people in my religion, they're allowing us to have a exceptional policy for our beard growth and like other religions they're allowing like turbine as long as you have definitive proof that that is truly your religion. Even if a soldier is of a different Faith than the chaplains are prepared and they will go the extra mile to accommodate and find services for soldiers to attend.

When I am not performing my Sunday service my focus is then on ensuring that everybody has the opportunity to practice their faith in the manner that they want to practice

their faith so it again it's going back to that honoring celebrating and respecting the religious diversity piece and part of that is just making sure that if a soldier has a special service that week that there's an opportunity for them to attend that special service I attend Agape Carson that's the the chapel service I attend on Saturdays we're actually right here in the soldiers Memorial Chapel if you go to the chapel Court museum at Fort Jackson. There is a copy of George Washington's letter to the Continental Congress requesting the establishment of the chaplain court.

So we have been part of the army since the very beginning. Our purpose has never really changed we've always been there to provide for the religious freedom of soldiers since 1775 and we continue to do that same mission. Honestly I've never had any issues since I joined the army I was able to do my basic training with my hijab on as you can see I'm still wearing it in here in my unit also my NCR are really understanding.

Adrian Vasquez
Adrian Vasquez Petty Officer 2nd Class | Coast Guard

“There’s a big importance stressed on the value that diversity brings. Not just diversity in gender or race — in where you’re from, your background and your experience. I’ve had an opportunity, especially being gay and Mexican in the Military — all of these things are unique to me.”

Adrian working

Adrian is secretary of the Leadership and Diversity Advisory Council (LDAC) at Coast Guard Sector San Juan, where he’s been able to contribute to various programs benefiting the base and service members who live there.

Many Minds, One Mission

Watch as these young cyberwarriors talk about how they train for mission success by embracing a diversity of thought and collaborative problem solving.

Length 1:36 View Transcript


Before I joined the Navy I was a daycare teacher. 

I was initiated system my background is in criminal justice.

I can fix almost anything on a car and I could build a house from the ground up, but when it comes to computers I didn't know anything about them.

The cyberspace clove force that we're developing coming from all walks of life is a key factor to being successful at anything.

Diversity is important as far as technical problem solving because everyone's going to have a different angle of how they would like to attack a problem in using that diversity you can come to the best possible solution.

I tell my students that they are the first line of defense together even though they come in and they have you know different job titles ascites and CTS etc we kind of all merge in and blend together and we support one another.

Our learning process is extremely collaborative we have joint service students and almost every single night they're setting up study groups to make sure that they understand the material we have multiple modules where they have to work as a team in order to succeed.

My favorite thing about this experience is I've learned a lot of different things that I've never learned before I met a lot of people that have good bonds with now there's a lot of things I didn't know I was capable of until I came here.

When I got here and I was really surprised to see how everybody is together and it was all like a brotherhood and you just fit right in everybody just fits right in and if you don't we pull you in.

Calm Under Pressure

Every service branch offers the chance to hone one’s ability to respond in the best possible way to high-stakes scenarios.

Anthony Pappaly
Anthony Pappaly Petty Officer 3rd Class | Coast Guard

“[My] experiences have helped me realize I can handle more challenges than I ever imagined.”

Anthony Pappaly using his camera

Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Pappaly spent his first two years in the Coast Guard on a patrol boat. He balanced deck maintenance, navigation and rescue swimming with other daily tasks. “During that time, I definitely gained a lot of confidence in my abilities to stay calm during challenging situations,” he says.

That skill has been a huge benefit for Anthony’s current job: public affairs specialist. “Each day is different. One day I’m working on social media campaigns in the office, the next I’m creating a video on boating safety,” he says.


Collaboration and connection with fellow service members are key components of a successful, rewarding life in the Military.

Juntranek Powell
Juntranek Powell Sergeant | Air Force Reserve

“Networking has opened up so many doors for me in my military and civilian life that wouldn’t have been open otherwise.”

Juntranek Powell networking

Networking is an integral part of Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Juntranek Powell’s human resources role. “My job is about taking care of our unit’s members,” she says, “so I get to meet a lot of people and learn about the work they do.” These relationships were incredibly valuable for her career path. “I was considered for and got a particular role because I had networked with the supervisor and she liked my work ethic,” she says.


Working collaboratively and with respect for fellow service members are core, critical components of what makes the Military function effectively.

 Marissa Airoldi
Marissa Airoldi Airman 1st Class | Air National Guard

“We learned that having close camaraderie is critical to the overall success of the mission because it helps us communicate effectively.”

 Marissa Airoldi inspecting a plane

Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Marissa Airoldi works on a team that repairs and maintains fuel systems for cargo planes and fighter jets. “We are constantly working together in this job. One person reads the step-by-step orders, one person makes the necessary repairs and the other monitors the fuel levels.” Marissa’s training taught her team-building skills to prepare her for this collaborative environment.

Time Management

Service is a serious commitment, but it also offers the flexibility to balance work, education and family in equal measure.

Chris Mendell
Chris Mendell Specialist | Army National Guard

“I’ve learned how to balance everything so that I have the opportunity to do the homework I need to do, but also have moments to relax.”

Chris Mendell playing hockey

While serving part time in the Army National Guard, Spc. Chris Mendell is also a full-time student at Columbia University. Though his schedule is busy, from playing club hockey to analyzing intelligence and studying neuroscience, Chris has developed ways to manage his time effectively. “In the Military, I learned about this tool called backward planning, which allows me to organize my daily schedule in a way that works for me,” he says.