Sharing inspiration: Soldier's story helps show youth career paths in the Army

By Angela IngramSeptember 19, 2020

Sharing inspiration: Soldier's story helps show youth career paths in the Army
(Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Sometimes all young people need is a little focus and someone who believes in them.

That's the message of a former teacher and student who became adopted mother and daughter.

Now they're on a mission to share their story to helpfully inspire young people to consider the United States Army as a path to a brighter future.

Her uniform is pristine, not a hair out of place.

Looking at Sergeant First Class Ebony Leon, (U.S. Army South plans and operations NCO) you might not know that everything wasn't always perfectly in place.

"I would not be nearly near where I am today, had I not gotten in the military. I think I would be possibly in jail. I think I could be passed," SFC. Leon said. "I also saw things like drive-bys."

Ebony grew up in Columbus.

She had challenges, but her band teacher took notice of her early on.

"Basically she just kept to herself and played her trumpet and marched her spot," Sarah Brown explained smiling at Ebony. "While she was in high school, it was day to day, let's get this child to school, let's make sure she has food."

Over time, teacher and student became like mother and daughter.

Now Ebony is a combat medic.

She's served the United States Army for 16 years, has two degrees, and is working on a third degree.

Brown said, "She called me and said, 'Hey mom, I think I'm gonna go in the Army and I said, 'Great! What are you gonna do?' and she mapped it all out. She already had it figured out."

The mission now, is sharing Ebony's story to inspire young people and help them stay away from crime.

The group is working on a documentary to share in schools, hopefully reaching students and teachers, especially in the inner-city.

"The military always gives you that. It gives you, here's what we want you to do, here's how it's done, and here's a step-by-step and all you have to have is the grit to get after that and that's what the inner-city communities always have is people that have the grit to get after it," Leon said.

They're shooting in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Local resident, Stephen Lee, came up with the idea.

Lee is the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Ohio.

"With all the top news that we have today, with COVID, to have a story like this, there's nothing but good. I mean, this is nothing but good and she did it because she had the opportunity and she seized the opportunity," Lee said.

There are thousands of young "Ebonys" in the Tri-state and all they need to see is that a person who is like them... won... and is encouraging them to do the same.

"A lot of times I just believe if they just got out of the situation that they were in and had someone believe in them that they would do so many wondrous things," Leon said.

Sergeant First Class Leon and Sarah Brown are speaking to a group of teachers and superintendents this weekend... sharing their story.

Leon says there's a stereotype that the Army is just about picking up a gun and going into combat, when there are actually more than a hundred of other Army careers available.