All in the Family
September 8, 2008
Recruiters are always looking for America's sons and daughters to join the Army - their own family members are no exception. At the Milwaukee "Wolfpack" Recruiting Battalion, recruiters and commanders are spreading enthusiasm for the Army into their own households.
The battalion's senior noncommissioned officer is now seeing his second child follow in his footsteps to serve the nation. Command Sgt. Maj. Melvin Holliday Sr. has more than 17 years of experience as a recruiter, trainer and leader, but that only partially explains why his children are convinced the Army is a good career path.
"I believe in the Army," said Holliday. "The Army has taken care of my family for 27 years, provided for my education and given me a chance to be a productive citizen."
Rashida Holliday originally planned to go to college in Texas to major in nursing. Her father had suggested she consider the military occupational specialty of a licensed practical nurse in the Army Reserve, get money for college through the GI Bill and take college courses at the same time.
"I didn't want to be uprooting all the time, going to different places," said Rashida. But then she learned about the Reserve and how she could manage her assignments.
Capt. James Douglas, a former recruiting company commander at the Wolfpack Battalion, also witnessed his stepson Gage Douglas work through the decision process of enlisting in the Army before going to college.
Since Gage was already the son of a Soldier, learning about what the Army would be like was no mystery. Yet most of his questions were directed to retired Master Sgt. James Grabowski, a civilian U.S. Army recruiter, who also recruited his own son.
"Mr. Grabowski was the one who explained to me a lot of the benefits of joining the Army and how it would help my future in the private sector," Gage said.
Gage said he always considered joining the Army during his high school years but he had hopes of going straight to college so the Reserve was a strong possibility.
"I finally decided that I would join because I wanted to get some hands-on experience before going to college," Gage said.
Grabowski said talking to his commander's son about joining the Army was no different than any other prospect.
"As Soldiers, we are no less reluctant to give our sons up," Grabowski said. "Every parent wants his kids taken care of, and the Army takes care of its own. It took care of me for 27 years."
Sgt. Brian Kuble, a recruiter at Sheboygan Recruiting Station, said he was taken by surprise when his wife Magdalena walked into his office wanting to enlist.
"At first I was hesitant about her decision because we have a daughter and I was concerned about what would happen in the case she deployed," Kuble said. Since his parents agreed to help with the care of their daughter, Kuble supported his wife's desire to serve.
"I wanted my own independence," said Magdalena. "I needed to get out and be part of something so I thought it would be good to join the Army."
Sgt. Larry Finefield, a recruiter at Janesville Recruiting Station, had been trying to convince his younger brother Timothy to do something meaningful with his life by joining the Army and setting a path for college in the future.
"Once (Timothy) understood the options and opportunities the Army could afford him, he more or less made the decision to join," Finefield said.
Finefield said that his brother's decision making process was typical of most prospects. But he also believes that being the older brother with four years of experience in the Army had some influence in making Timothy take the Army seriously.
Timothy said that having his Soldier brother available to answer questions eased his fears and suspicions.
"It lent credibility to the Army that my brother could tell me like it is and not just some recruiter I don't know," Timothy said.
Other family members, such as Abveleigh Zimmerman, make the decision to enlist without initially consulting their Army counterparts. Abveleigh is a cousin of Capt. Brock Zimmerman, Loves Park recruiting company commander. Abveleigh had her questions about the Army answered but checked with her officer cousin to ensure she was getting a balanced picture of the Army.
"Brock explained the Army and kept me well-informed," Abveleigh said. She is now on her way to becoming a health care specialist in the Army.
Although job skills and money for college are common incentives for joining the Army, the sense of duty to country is what makes the Army more than just a career.
"I feel proud not just to be serving my country, but also that I'm making a difference in my unit," said Magdalena, a supply specialist with the 330th Military Police Detachment, U.S. Army Reserve in Sheboygan, Wis.
"I feel great about serving," said Rashida. "The country needs a lot of us to serve our country. We have to fight for our freedom. We have so many rights and freedoms here...why wouldn't anyone not want to serve in the military."