Story by: Sgt. Calab Franklin, 3ABCT, 1CD, Public Affairs
FORT HOOD, TEXAS – From a past full of mischief, court orders, and the bottom of the bottle; this is how Spc. Valerie Arceneaux, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, found a home within the U.S. Army, Fort Hood, Texas, August 26, 2020.
Valerie’s childhood was not ideal to say the least. She grew up in the small town of Sunset, LA, although, the town is not all sunshine and rainbows. Valerie describes it as a “dog-eat-dog world”, but the struggles and hardships she endured in that small town drove her to the Family and life she has today.
“I came from a pretty bad background; I was an angry kid,” said Valerie. “It was just probation and fighting for like six to seven years before I joined the Army.”
She was raised by her Grandmother, who took on the role as her guardian at a young age. Tragically, when Valerie was just seven years old, her Grandmother passed away, leading her back into the primary care of her Mother.
“That still to this day is the hardest thing that has ever happened to me, God kept taking everyone I wanted in my life away from me,” said Valerie.
On top of the passing of her Grandmother, Valerie’s Father was nowhere in sight. Several years went by and Valerie had built up a resentment towards the world. She grew angry, sad, and alone.
“I held onto all of that hate, and just hated everyone. I thought I was unlovable because no one stayed around in my life," said Valerie.
The hardship she endured at such a young age drove Valerie down a dark hole that she thought she would never climb out of. At 16 years old, Valerie found herself court ordered to an Army boot camp.
“It was rough, it was just six months of getting smoked,” said Valerie.
Valerie overcame and finished the camp, she had never felt prouder of herself; although, she would find herself taking a step in the wrong direction after it was all through.
“I went down a dark road with alcohol and partying. I hit rock bottom again; that’s when I walked into the recruiter’s office,” said Valerie.
Seven days after Valerie walked into that office she was shipped off to basic training.
“From the moment I put the uniform on, it was like my whole world changed. Before it was just drugs and alcohol, and if I see the next day, then I do,” said Valerie. “Even with the drill sergeants screaming at me, it felt so right; I had never felt the amount of love for myself more than when I was in basic.”
Now Valerie is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and loves what she has. The life of booze and the dark times are far behind her.
“I’m going until the Army tells me I have to get out. This is where I am meant to be, I feel incomplete without the Army,” said Valerie.
With the holes in her heart filled, and wounds healed to mere scars Valerie thrives. She found the home and sense of belonging she had been looking for her whole life.
“I have such an amazing life inside of the military,” said Valerie. “I built a bigger and better Family than I have ever known; I didn’t know what Family was until I signed that dotted line.”
As Valerie continues her career in the Army, she does her best to be a role model to other females with similar backgrounds, giving them advice and teaching them that they are not weak or alone in life.
“If she had been through it, I have probably been through it too,” said Valerie. “I always tell females this when they come to me: there is two types of females in the world; there is two types of people period; there are people who let trauma defeat them and there are those who let trauma build them, and you can either be unhappy or you can have a good life.”
Valerie added, to her, the things that she has been through in her life are the reason for her success today.