FORT HAMILTON, N.Y. - With a strong tradition of military service in their family, a father and son enlisted in the U.S. Army together at a swearing-in ceremony July 13, 2012, at the Military Entrance Processing Station here.
Luis Melendez, 36, and his son, James Melendez, 18, took the oath of enlistment together and will continue the tradition of service to the Army that dates back to when Luis joined the Army at age 18.
Luis began in the active-duty Army as an infantryman and transitioned to the U.S. Army Reserve as a military police officer and then a chemical equipment repairer. He deployed to Bosnia in 1995 and 1996 and to Iraq in 2008-2009.
Luis said his decision is career based. As a civilian, he currently works as a private detective. A career in the active duty offers him job stability in uncertain economic times, guaranteed income, free medical care and a generous housing allowance.
For James, whose father has been in the Army in some capacity for his entire life, the decision was based on what he saw with his father's service.
"I saw that it was a good idea," James said. "Seeing him deploy, being strong, fighting and then coming back -- everything was working for him."
Luis said he thought his son joining the Army would be good for him. He wants to pass to his son the value of the experience and the training a career within the U.S. Army gave him.
"It will grow his backbone and let him experience what's out there," Luis said.
James said he plans to leave for basic combat training early next year and is interested in using his educational benefits to study pharmacy or medicine while he is serving as an information systems operator analyst. His GI Bill is valued at more than $53,000.
Luis is scheduled to attend his military occupational specialty training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., in late summer or early fall to become a horizontal construction engineer on active duty.
The Melendez family has many with military service including Luis' father, two brothers, uncle and grandfather.
"I wanted to continue the family tradition, and out of all of them I'm the only one that actually got to sign up with my son," said Luis.
"I thought joining the Army would kick start my life," said James. "I figured it would be a good thing to do, and it feels pretty good to know I'll be set in my life the right way and benefitting from all the Army has to offer."