Life in the Military

Pursuing Dreams & Passions

From unlocking new skills to discovering your true potential, life in today’s military has you covered.

Writing Her Future

There’s a common misconception that serving in the Military strips people of their individuality. In her experience, Erynne has found this to be far from the truth. For Erynne, this often means writing, which is something that’s grown from a childhood hobby to a professional pursuit in recent years.

Erynne Byrd Petty Officer 2nd Class | Navy

“There are so many things the Military can provide for you as far as growing as a person. You can continue to be as creative as you want to be and still get the job done.”

Erynne Byrd

In 2019, she published a collection of poems that shed light on her perspective on life. “I wrote my book while I was out to sea,” she says, referring to her recent seven-month deployment, during which she sailed across the Pacific Ocean to places such as Tokyo, Singapore and Australia. “I’d take moments in the middle of the ocean, and those moments would take me where I needed to go to be able to write. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the Navy. The support that I receive from the people I work with is amazing,” she says.

High-Flying Dreams

With a love for aviation and the support of his leadership, Ohio Army National Guard Warrant Officer Elliott Stockton began the journey that would help him achieve his dream of becoming a pilot. To start, Elliott participated in the Army’s Best Warrior Competition, where he had to compete against other Soldiers in physical fitness challenges, written exams and battle drills. After winning the competition and being named Soldier of the Year for the state of Ohio, he gained the attention of higher leadership in the state and had the chance to talk to them about his future.

Elliott Stockton
Elliott Stockton Warrant Officer | Army National Guard

“I’ve wanted to be a pilot since middle school, so when the opportunity came up, I was like, yeah, let’s do it!”

High-Flying Dreams

“The conversation was about where my career is going and what I want to do. I was like, I want to be a pilot,” he says. “They said, ‘Well, this is what you need to do. You take care of these things, and we’ll make it happen.’” After working hard and getting recognized for his efforts, Elliott was selected for a warrant officer position as a Black Hawk pilot. Warrant officers are highly specialized and have the technical expertise required for their jobs while also getting opportunities to train and lead other Soldiers. “I immediately accepted. I’ve wanted to be a pilot since middle school, so when the opportunity came up, I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” he says.

Pursuing a Passion

After earning her bachelor’s degree and teaching high school Spanish, Emily enlisted in search of a new adventure. She discovered that she could continue pursuing her love of learning and languages in the Military. “By studying the nuances of other languages, from traditional words to slang terms, I’ll always be learning something new,” she says.

Emily Dowdell SERGEANT | Army Reserve

“Languages are my passion, and I wanted the opportunity to learn more through the Military.”

Emily Dowdell

Once she completed Basic Training, Emily attended the Defense Language Institute and learned Pashto, typically spoken in the Middle East. Learning to read, speak and write in Pashto was no small feat; its alphabet and grammatical structure are different from other languages Emily studied. As a command language program manager, Emily also assists other linguists in their qualifications and testing. “I volunteered for that role because I wanted to learn more, but also because I wanted to help other Soldiers.” In her civilian life, Emily teaches Spanish and volunteers as a tutor in her community. She says her military and civilian careers complement one another and help her be a better teacher for her Soldiers and her students.