By Staff Sgt. Tina VillalobosDecember 29, 2017
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Citizen-Soldiers bring with them an abundance of diverse talents, skills, and education. These attributes are often reflected in transferable work skills that enrich both their military and civilian careers, and they can bring a higher level of sophistication than required by their military occupational specialty.
Some of these Soldiers enjoy the differences between their civilian and military work. Others have identified how to incorporate their civilian education, skills, and experiences to benefit their unit, and enhance their own capacity to complete a mission. Still others may do the same work on both sides and have the opportunity to enrich their ability to contribute all around.
Here are just a few of their stories.
CAPT. JASON PRICE
The making of an American Soldier can begin before conscious memories. Learning traditional values, strong work ethics and gaining an understanding of doing the right things at the right time tend to ensure that the seeds being sown will yield anticipated results.
"In the Midwest, we're about traditional values," explained Capt. Jason Price, , headquarters support company commander, 35th Infantry Division. "I believe if we let those go, we're losing a lot in terms of our heritage and our history, and once you lose it, you don't really get it back."
Tradition runs deep in the Price family. Their initial 200 acre farm was founded five generations ago, in 1889, just four miles west of Marshall, Missouri. Since its inception, the farm has modernized and gained an additional 700 acres. Price learned Army values (which run parallel to his family values) on the back of his grandfather's tractor, where he rode and learned wisdom and work ethic during his toddler through 3rd grade years, until his grandfather passed away.
"He taught me the value of hard work," said Price. "If you put your mind to something and you want to succeed at it, then you'll do it. We would get up with the sun. We would go out and do chores. I had pigs and sheep that I fed. We had some cows and calves, as well as a feed lot that we took care of. When the chores were done with the livestock, then we started on whatever crop or other chores we had."
The effects of a wholesome, stable environment and its inherent structure were not lost on Price. He's a man that looks you in the eyes with sincerity when he speaks, and it's easy to see that he means what he says.
"The little details and just the simple little things that we do in life sometimes really set us on the path to success if we really analyze it," he said. "It was about getting up, getting to work, getting your work done, and then you got to rest a little at night. The next day, we did the same thing. As I've gotten older and I've tried to instill those same values in my kids, we can liken it to the Army."
His early acquired work ethic and traditional values aided in earning a degree in just four years and bringing his knowledge back to teach at his local community high school, where he inspired the next generation of farmers by teaching agricultural studies and farm management as well as leading the local Future Farmers of America chapter.
"My degree is agricultural education," said Price. "I taught high school agricultural classes for 13 years. We had 80 members in the FFA organization to begin with, and I grew that to 160. In comparing our chapter to others across the country, we ended up being number one in the nation. There are over 500,000 FFA members nation-wide now, and our local FFA ended up being number one again. Success breeds success. Although I'm no longer teaching, I am pretty proud of them."
The Price family has a demonstrated history of strength, wisdom, stability and resilience. Their family farm has withstood the challenges of the dust bowl, the Great Depression, as well as the recession of the 1980s, when interest rates were upwards of 18-20 percent. Sound money management and an understanding of living within one's means became second nature to Price.
Now, serving his community in the capacity of community bank vice president, Price levies his agricultural and financial management knowledge to help others in his community realize their dreams and achieve success.
"I specialize in agricultural and commercial loans," said Price. "I know both sides of the desk. When someone comes in, I know what they're really wanting, and I can help. Anytime you can help someone go from point A to point B, and you know all of the trials and tribulations that are in between those two points, it absolutely does feel good."
Eight years ago, at 30 years old, Price joined the Missouri Army National Guard. Initially, he wanted to parlay his agricultural knowledge to help the Army implement its agriculture business development program in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. But by the time he had completed his training for the Army, the program was no longer available.
"I don't regret my decision to join. I feel like I'm a natural born leader, and I like to help people," said Price. "My current position as company commander is the most rewarding position I've had in the Army, so far. I am looking forward to even more challenging assignments in the future. Some people join for various reasons, but I think we all have one common bond, and that is that we want to serve something bigger than ourselves. I am proud to be an American Soldier."
(Editor's Note: This is part four of a four-part series on "The Soldier behind the rank.")