For 1st. Lt. William Milzarski, assistant logistics officer, 1st Armored Brigade
Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, life of service began many years ago as a military brat.The native of Cedar Springs, Mich., grew up in a household where military service was viewed as a badge of honor and rite of passage for all the males in the family. That history began with his great-great grandfather, who was a sergeant major during the Battle of Gettysburg, and continued on to his father and uncles, who served during World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.The day was Aug. 1, 1990 -- the day before the Iraqi Army invaded the country of Kuwait -- when Milzarski joined the Army and shipped out to Fort Bliss, Texas, for initial entry and a military service journey.He would later go to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., for advance individual training to become a construction engineer.After serving for four years on active duty, Milzarski said he got out of the military with a strong desire to help his fellow veterans. He enrolled in Grand Rapids Community College to continue his education, and, eventually, earned a bachelor?'s degree in social work from Grand Valley
State University.After completing his Juris doctorate in 2002 at Thomas Cooley Law School, Lansing, Mich., Milzarski passed the Michigan State Bar and became a licensed attorney and disability rights advocate. It was there he was able to assist veterans and civilians with disabilities from being discriminated against in the work place.He worked as a legal expert in disabilities with Disability Advocates, Grand Rapids, Mich., for several years, before moving on to become a civil rights attorney in Lansing, Mich. He worked there for more
than six years and became a regionally and nationally known expert in veterans and children with disabilities."When a parent of a child (who) has just passed away comes up to you and thanks you for all that you have done for that child and giving them hope, it?'s at that moment you know that what you do really makes a difference in the lives of others,"Milzarski said.A call back to military service came after Sept. 11, 2001, when Milzarski?'s two sons and his daughter -- the very first female in the family to serve in the military -- all enlisted in the Army.?"I have always told my children that there is nothing more fulfilling in life than serving your country, and (I) felt honored that they wanted to continue our long family tradition of serving in the military," Milzarski said.After watching his children?'s careers flourish in the military, he thought about the time he spent in the military and how he could support their careers. He then realized how great it would be if he and his children were all in the military serving the nation together.?"When my dad told everyone that he was returning to the military to continue
his career as an officer, we were all shocked and taken back a little," said Sgt. Andrew Milzarski, multiple launch rocket systems operator, 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery, 17th Artillery Brigade,
2nd Infantry Division.At age 40, Milzarski walked away from a prosperous career in the legal field helping disabled veterans, to resume his military career by entering Officer Candidate School. The move made Milzarski one of the oldest infantry officers to complete the program at Fort Benning, Ga.?"If it wasn?'t for my previous enlisted time, I do not think I would have been allowed to continue my career," Milzarski said.His journey back to active-duty military service was a long and difficult one, but he refused to be turned away and stayed on the recruiters to approve his packet for OCS.?"I am very proud of my dad and admire him for all the good stuff he has done to help others, and (I) hope to follow in his footsteps in becoming a commissioned officer and make an impact in the lives of my fellow Soldiers," Andrew said. ?"My dad is an outstanding role model, and I know he will continue helping others.As a platoon leader in a forward position in Afghanistan, Milzarski led a platoon
of 24 Soldiers through more than 244 combat mission and 43 engagements with the enemy.?"I have always lived by one code and told my kids to always do the right thing: Help others, and nothing in life comes easy," Milzarski said.