By Annette P. GomesNovember 26, 2019
Sgt. Laura Laird: Mind over matter
By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI. Sgt. Laura Laird has a motto she echoes everywhere she goes.
"It is an internal message I recite. " Life is what you make it, if you're not happy than change it. You should not have any regrets. Life is too short and shorter for some than others. Do not leave anything on the table and have no regrets at the end of the day," Laird said. The California native is used to change and charting her own path. She was an active duty Marine and Army Soldier.
"I wanted to get out and see the world and joining the military was my ticket to freedom. I didn't want to do what society deemed as a women's role and place - domesticity. I served three years one month and 27 days in the Marine Corps from 1986 to 1989. I served in the Army for four years from 1994 to 1998.
Laird began her civilian career with the U.S. Post Office, seven months after getting out of the Army. Approximately 12 years later in 2010, a chance encounter with an Army recruiter would change the trajectory of her life.
"I walked into a recruiter's office to deliver some express mail and the recruiter asked if I wanted to join the Army. I quickly replied do you realize I'm 46 years old and he said no," Laird laughed. "I told him about my background and he asked if I wanted to be a Military Policeman and the rest as they say is history."
After four deployments and several injuries including a torn meniscus, two ruptured discs, displaced knees and a shifted vertebra, Laird entered Joint Base Lewis McCord Warrior Transition Battalion to heal. It was there the 56-year-old set another goal - To participate in the 2019 Pacific Regional Adaptive Reconditioning Camp. Wounded, ill and injured service members and Veterans from WTBs train in 12 adaptive sporting events for a chance to progress to the 2020 Department of Defense Warrior Games.
"I walked into the gym and saw all the paper work for Pacific Regional Camps and all the adaptive reconditioning activities involved including; running and swimming. I loved running all my life, it was my passion, after all I delivered mail and to get the overtime I would run really fast," Laird laughed. "I thought I knew how to swim but I only knew how not to drown but I'm going to try these activities," she added.
Always up for a challenge, Laird says she is a true testament to resiliency, overcoming and triumphing over life's obstacles.
"I don't let anything or anybody hold me back, when someone tells me I can't do something I set out to prove them wrong. These Soldiers inspire me because I'm their mother's age, I'm their grandmother's age, but I also inspire them because when they see me they say ok, if she can do it so can I," she said.
These days Laird says her other reason for participating in the Pacific Regional Adaptive Reconditioning Camp lies very close to home.
"I'm dedicating this journey to my son Randy. I want him to see that he can do whatever he chooses to and let no one tell him different. The sky is the limit."