How Parents Discussed Their Child’s Decision

Hear from Louis and other parents about the questions they asked to make sure their children had thought through the decision to join the Military.

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Harold Stewart: I'm a retired officer. I started off as a private, worked my way up. I explained to him the option of trying to come in as an officer. Go to college, coming in at officer. Go to OCS. He said he wanted to do the enlisted thing and try to follow the career pursuit like I did, become enlisted and then get the respect of his men and become a chief warrant officer some day. So I think he — I don't know if he's following my footsteps, but it looks like he's on the same career path.

Beth Radiseck: I thought she was serious when she came to me and she said she was thinking about joining the Air Force, and we had already, you know, applied for college, you know, to a college of her choice, and she'd been accepted, so it was a big surprise in the fall.

Marc Danziger: He had three more months of college before he was going to graduate, and he just said, "Well, I'm just going to go now," and that was something I sort of pushed back on pretty hard. He called me up at 11:00 at night and said, "I need a plane ticket back to Virginia. I'm going to finish school. I'll come back, and I'll join." His mom and stepmom were very deeply focused on talking him out of it (laughter) in a big way. I mean, it was a lot of family drama. And I was kind of — he's a grownup. You raise kids to make decisions, and it's a healthy decision to join the Military. It's not a bad decision. I think his mom and his stepmom were scared he deliberately wanted to go into combat arms. I wound up doing a lot of calming of fears.

Nancy Kennon: I had to convince Robert a little bit because I was going to the recruiters' office. I went down there with her five times. I knew what was going on. I knew what they were talking about. I knew all the advantages and disadvantages. And when it came down to the final decision, that's when he said, "She better really think about this because there's no turning back," you know. So there was a little bit of convincing I had to do with him to help him help me to support her in her decision.

Robert Kennon: I listened to what she had to say, and it kind of sinked in, and like two days later I was like, "I'm — whatever you're going to do, baby — I'm going to be behind you 100 percent."

Greg Brewer: I came from the '70s. I come from the Vietnam War era. I'm in my fifties. And I told them when they were growing up, I said, "Boys, if you ever join the Military, you will not have to worry about being killed by a foreigner because I will kill you."

Louis Arroyo: The way my daughter came about joining the National Guard was a surprise to me. She decided one day that she wanted to earn a degree, and currently I'm employed with the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). She inquired a few questions about getting school paid for, so I gave her the information with, without the intentions of actually assisting her in joining because I didn't want her to join. She's my little girl. But I gave her the information.

Greg Brewer: Eventually it sunk in to me that he was serious about this, and after talking to me and telling me the benefits of the training and how that could transfer into the civilian sector where he was trying to land a job doing law enforcement, and the schooling benefits, I turned from a flaming antagonist into a rah-rah-sis-boom-bah supporter.

Preparing for the Military

Once Louis accepted Krista's decision, he helped her gear up for Basic Training. Although Krista grew up in a military household and was prepared for the discipline, Louis wanted her to be as physically ready as possible, so she started running and doing push-ups. Louis said, "The physical part…that's the very hard part. The body does things at boot camp that you never knew you were ever going to do. We did some physical fitness tests. We wanted her to see where she was based on these standards, and she was fine."

Louis also had to brace himself emotionally for Krista's departure to Basic Training. He admitted, "I was going to have about three to four grown men yelling at my daughter constantly. That bothered me." Louis knew that the challenges of Basic Training were for a good purpose, but it was hard for him to imagine his daughter in the situations he remembered from his own experience.

Ultimately, however, both Louis and Krista made it through Krista's Basic Training. Louis felt nothing but pride at her graduation. He said, "I took the trek to Kansas City when my daughter graduated, and that was very emotional for me…seeing your daughter graduate, and suddenly your little girl is a Soldier."

Appreciating Her Success

Whenever he looks back, Louis is thrilled with what military service has done for his daughter. He said, "When these children go to boot camp, they get molded, whether they realize it or not. From their facial features…I mean everything. Their bodies are sculpted; their attitude is just different. It's just a remarkable transformation that happens from the day they leave your home to the day they graduate. They are highly disciplined; they're motivated; they're proud. The pride just oozes out of their body, and they're so proud that you're proud of them."

Today, Krista is a military policeman (MP) with the National Guard. This position is an excellent fit for her civilian life, as she is using her GI Bill money to earn a college degree in criminal justice. He said, "I am so proud of her. I am fine with it. I have no issues. I have no concerns. She is handling it perfectly."

And, perhaps inspired by his older sister, another member of Louis's family decided to join the Military. Krista’s younger brother Anthony enlisted with the Marine Corps. Louis continues to give both of his children his complete support. He said, "I go back and remember what I went through. I had the support of my mom and dad, so in turn that's what I give them."

"She’s my little girl…being prior service, I have knowledge about what it takes. Seeing your daughter graduate [Basic Training], and suddenly your little girl is a Soldier…I am so proud of her."