In February 2010, Kristen Dross wanted to join the Army. Her master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Florida State University was an accomplishment she worked hard for but was not totally fulfilling.

In search of fulfilling her vocational dreams and finding job satisfaction, Dross considered joining the Army. Unfortunately, one thing was holding her back: her weight. When Dross began talking with Sgt. 1st Class Darron Pittman of the Tallahassee North Recruiting Station she weighed 238 pounds, in a 5.5 foot frame. He confirmed what she suspected: although she was a high-grad and qualified to join the Army in every way her weight did not meet the Army's standards.

Acknowledging her earnest desire to join the Army, Pittman challenged Dross to attend the station's next Future Soldier training.

"After completing a 1-1-1 assessment and determining that my physical abilities needed serious work, I had pretty much counted myself out. Sure, there were a lot of benefits to joining the Army, like educational benefits, a better quality of life, and improving my overall physical condition, I just didn't think it was worth it. With all the weight I needed to lose, it would take forever," said Dross.

The day following her initial meeting with Pittman, Dross's first Future Soldier training experience was an eye opener. The one thing she says helped to reinforce her dream of becoming a Soldier was listening to Staff Sgt. Nicholas Walters review the Soldier's Creed with the Future Soldiers.

"It may sound cliché, but working hard, sticking together, and never giving up were the main things I got the first time I heard the Soldier's Creed and I liked the idea of living these principles every day," she said.

Dross was determined to lose the required weight and become a Soldier. She began working out on her own, training with Tallahassee North's Future Soldiers and changed her eating habits. She says there were days she wanted to quit but the more encouragement she received from the recruiters and the Future Soldiers, who volunteered to two-a-day workouts with her, she continued towards her goal of never quitting. Her self-motivation was another hallmark of her character and gained her the title as station mascot.

During her training Dross also recalled her family's strong military history.

"The idea of me contributing to that legacy made my relatives the proudest I've ever seen them," said Dross.

It took nearly an entire year for Dross to lose more than 80 pounds but she said the Soldiers of Tallahassee North were her real motivation.

"I can proudly say that without the help of the recruiters and Future Soldiers of the Tallahassee North Recruiting Station I would not have achieved my goals. I look forward to continued hard work, and successfully completing BCT and AIT, and becoming the best Soldier I can be."

Specialist Kristen Dross, weighing 154 pounds, enlisted for four years as a network systems operator. She leaves for training at the end of the month.

Page last updated Mon August 15th, 2011 at 00:00