By Marie Berberea, Fort Sill CannoneerMarch 20, 2014
FORT SILL, Okla. (March 20, 2014) -- Typically Soldiers in Basic Combat Training are neophytes to the military. That is not the case with combat veteran Pvt. Jason Ford, C Battery, 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery. With a more experienced perspective he is starting his training all over again after serving in the Australian army.
"I intended to pretty much stay in there forever. I deployed to Afghanistan and after being mildly wounded I got sent back and was working at a U.S. hospital and there I met my wife. I fell in love, got married, moved over here and here I am in the U.S. Army."
Ford said his deployment in Afghanistan was supposed to be eight months, but because of flooding in Australia, his unit was not replaced in time so he had to stay for nine.
During that time Ford was patrolling on Australia Day when his men got into a large contact with Taliban fighters. He was shot in the arm and sent to the hospital there where his future wife who was serving as a laboratory technician in the U.S. Army Reserve.
"If there wasn't this natural disaster in Australia I would've ripped out of Australia on time and I would've never met my wife, same as if I'd never been shot I would've never met my wife. So the Taliban did me a favor on that one," said Ford.
In his seventh week of BCT, Ford said starting all over again in a different country's military is something he is looking forward to just as long as he gets the chance to serve.
"I found the training really good. It's really high standard. We've got a great team of people -- everyone's really motivated so I'm really enjoying it."
He is going on to Advanced Individual Training in the same field he was in before as a combat medic.
"I've always loved the Australian army, I had no intention of getting out. So the day after I got my greencard I went to the recruiters office and here I am."
With several medals from his time with the Australian army, Ford said the other trainees look to him for guidance.
"I don't get any preferential treatment over any of the Soldiers, but I get asked a lot of questions. People look to me when they're struggling with something and I get to help out."
Ford said he was more than willing to spend extra time with his platoon to make sure they won the Combat Life Saver banner after scoring a 98 percent average.
Ford said there are similarities in the training he's received so far and, of course, differences.
"I would actually say that the standard of medical training for the average Soldier is to a far higher standard than in the Australian army. The Combat Life Saver Course is the same that's offered here, but it's only offered to a handful of soldiers within each squad in the Australian army. So these guys' basic Soldiers are pretty much qualified to a specialist level within the Australian army."
Ford is going into the 4224th U.S. Army Hospital, his wife's former unit, where he hopes to transfer his training and medical certifications to be a paramedic or EMT when he is not on drill.
"I absolutely love the military," said Ford. "That's what I said to the guys here, I don't need the money I'm just here purely because I love being a Soldier. I love the lifestyle, I love the friendship and the bonds that you form."