From the unemployment line to the border line
October 17, 2010
- Spc. Trevor Howard, a 38-year-old father of three, joined the Army in 2008 to provide for his Family.
- Howard discovered he enjoys soldiering, and hopes to be a career officer.
- Howard said the poverty he encounters in Wasit Province, Iraq, has strengthened his commitment to the mission.
Spc. Trevor Howard joined the Army in 2008 out of necessity, and a little bit of desperation.
Thirty six years old and married with three children, Howard, a college graduate with a degree in Business Management from Dillard University in New Orleans, was hit hard by the recession.
"I was out of work for 14 months, so my neighbor encouraged me to join (the Army)," said Howard, a native of New York City. "At first I was resistant."
After discussing it with his wife, Sonya, they went together to the local recruiting station, liked what they heard, and Howard made his decision.
"If I have to do it to provide for my Family, that's what I'm going to do," he said as he explained his thought process for enlisting in August 2008 as a petroleum supply specialist.
A funny thing happened while Howard was attending basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced training at Fort Lee, Va. Although he joined the Army to get out of a financial bind, he discovered he really liked soldiering.
"I actually love the Army and want to make it a career," Howard said.
A little more than two years after joining the Army, Howard is in southern Iraq with the newly arrived 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He's the driver for a gun truck that transports security transition team members and provides security for advise and assist missions in Wasit Province near the Iraq-Iran border.
"At first, I was a little bit scared. I'll be honest," Howard said of his first trips 'outside of the wire,' "but with the training we got before we deployed and with this crew I have no worries that things will go smoothly."
Howard said the four Soldiers of his crew trained together for 10 months prior to deploying and have developed a special bond.
"It's become a family," he said, adding the mission they are doing in Iraq is exactly what they trained for before deploying.
One thing on this deployment he wasn't prepared for, however, was the living conditions many Iraqis face in Wasit. Howard, whose period of unemployment pales in comparison to the poverty faced by many of the villagers he sees, said it has strengthened his commitment to the mission.
"Anything we can do to help these people is worth it," he said.
When the deployment is over, Howard hopes to become a commissioned officer. He has already submitted his application for officer candidate school, although his age will require a waiver. If that doesn't work out, he plans to apply for warrant officer school.
Howard said that whatever happens will happen. Right now, he is just happy to be making a difference for the Iraqi people with his Army family while his Family back home is provided for.
"I am absolutely ecstatic to do this mission. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else."