• After several months of watching his diet and exercise Tanner had trimmed up and lost more than 50 pounds to meet Army enlistment requirements.

    Tanner after

    After several months of watching his diet and exercise Tanner had trimmed up and lost more than 50 pounds to meet Army enlistment requirements.

  • Ross Tanner shows off the catch of the day.  Photograph was taken a few months before his decision to lose weight and enlist. (Photo by provided by Ross Tanner)

    Tanner before

    Ross Tanner shows off the catch of the day. Photograph was taken a few months before his decision to lose weight and enlist. (Photo by provided by Ross Tanner)

WEATHERFORD, Texas -- Months of exercise, paperwork mistakes, bad weather and endless trips to the doctor's office; at times it seemed the fates had arrayed themselves against Ross Tanner and his dream of enlisting in the Army.

In October 2010 Tanner walked in the Weatherford Recruiting Station with the intention of enlisting. Bad news; he had to lose weight - a lot of weight.

“I stepped on the scales and it read 255,” said Tanner. His 5-foot-9-inch frame was nearly 60 pounds heavier than the Army would allow.

Tanner’s recruiter, Sgt. Brian Fullbright, advised him to watch what and how much he was eating.

“I started eating smaller portions and stopped drinking sodas,” said the Weatherford native.

On his own initiative, Tanner also started an exercise program. “I started to run three or four miles a day and began working out at a local gym,” said Tanner. “I knew I was too heavy.”

The plan worked and over the next few months the would-be Soldier continued to lose weight. “Every week he would come in and we would check his weight and encouraged him to keep losing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Wirt, Weatherford Station Commander.

Then one happy day he had lost enough to meet the Army’s height and weight standards and had begun processing at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Dallas. The MEPS processes applicants for all the military services, putting them through a series of tests and examinations to ensure they meet the standards required to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. These tests include vision, hearing, blood, and blood pressure.

But once again fate would intervene to trip him up.

“The doctor said my blood pressure was too high,” said Tanner. “Without knowing it, I had been eating a lot of high-sodium food which had increased my blood pressure.”

For the next few weeks Tanner closely watched his diet for sodium and had his blood pressure monitored by his family doctor. The MEPS doctor told him if he wanted to continue the enlistment process he would have to get his blood pressure down to acceptable levels, and to prove it, he would have to have it taken at the same hour on three consecutive days.

Again, Tanner showed up at the MEPS with the required paperwork documenting his lower blood pressure. Fate was waiting. Between the time he left the MEPS and the time he returned a few weeks later the format for the required paperwork had changed.

Tanner was back to square one. He would have to make three more trips to the doctor’s office and have the numbers recorded using the new format. Only this time Mother Nature would intervene.

During the same period ice, snow and weeks of record cold gripped Weatherford and most of north Texas.

“I would try to make it to the doctor's office but the roads would be iced over or I’d get there and the office would be closed due to the weather. All in all, it took me nine trips to get three consecutive days,” said Tanner.

Tanner’s persistence prevailed in the end. In April he enlisted as a satellite communication system operator, and for once, something went his way.

“I attended Texas Tech for two years and was able to enlist as a private first class, two grades higher than normal enlistee,” said Tanner.

Page last updated Tue June 28th, 2011 at 10:40