Why I Serve: Sgt. Zachery Yeager
August 18, 2011
"If I hadn't joined the military, I would not be the sort of person I am today," said Sgt. Zachery Yeager, military police for the 289th MP Company, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
Yeager, a native of Camp Verde, Arizona, enlisted in the Army Jun. 20, 2006, and credits his five years of service for transforming him from a defiant unmotivated teenager to a disciplined upstanding Soldier.
"I've been out on my own since I was 16," said Yeager. "I didn't have respect for parental authority. I didn't have respect for any sort of authority. I was just heading down a really bad road."
Although Yeager admits he rebelled against his parents, Yeager acknowledges his father influenced his decision to join the Army and become a MP.
"[My father] said joining the Army was the best thing anyone could do," said Yeager, recalling his father's advice. "He thought military police would instill a lot more discipline in me and give me a better kick start to life; I agreed."
Eight months later, Yeager found himself in the middle of combat in Afghanistan.
"I was terrified. I've been blown up. I've been shot at," said Yeager. "I realized this was a whole different ball game. Whenever I saw the appreciation, [from the American people], that's when it hit me, we just got done doing something extraordinary."
Even after risking his life in Afghanistan, serving a second tour in Iraq and re-enlisting in the Army two more times, Yeager said his greatest accomplishment was truly making his parents happy.
"I can just see the look on their faces that they're really proud of me. That's a pretty monumental thing for me personally," said Yeager.
It's this same parental love Yeager said he shares with his Soldiers.
"I love my Soldiers. They're like one of my own children," said Yeager, a father of three. "They need you just as much as you need them."
As a leader, Yeager said he hopes his Soldiers are able to take away from the Army the same lessons he has.
"Some Soldiers look at the here and now, but they do not look at the long term," said Yeager. "I want them to look at it from a point of view of who they were before, who they are now, and who they are becoming constantly because of the experiences they have had. Those experiences help build character even if they don't see it."