DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. — Just because a phrase might sound cliché does not mean it’s not true. Take, for example, when someone says that he or she “joined the military to serve my country.” This phrase is often considered cliché, but for many service members and veterans, it is also the truth.
Almost 27 years ago, Col. Steven Carozza commissioned in the Army after completing the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program at The University of Notre Dame.
“I decided at a young age that I wanted to be an officer in the Army,” said Carozza. “I wanted to serve in the Army to help and give back to the nation…it was fundamentally about protecting freedom.”
Shortly after receiving his commission in 1994, Steven proposed to his wife, Denise. They postponed getting married for two years so she could finish her graduate degree from Western Washington University on the other side of the country while he served his first tour of duty at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“I guess he wanted to make sure I didn’t find someone else while I finished school,” Denise joked.
Since getting married in 1996, Denise has essentially devoted her life to service to her country as well. She has made every Permanent Change of Station move with Steven and has been there each time the tough decision to stay in the Army had to be made.
“When we got married, we both ‘knew’ I was going to get out after two [more] years,” Carozza said. “However, things changed; and through a series of decisions we made together, we decided that staying in was the right thing to do.”
Although some of Steven’s assignments have been challenging and wouldn’t have been their first choice of locations, the Carozza family has persevered.
“Even when the Army has sent us someplace that we really didn’t want to go, we have always been able to find some sort of unique social community,” said Denise. “It is hard to imagine staying in one place now, and we are grateful for all the experiences that come with military service.”
For Carozza, staying in the Army boils down to one thing: taking care of the Soldiers, Army Civilians, and contractors.
“The people you get to work with every day, that’s what makes the difference,” said Carozza. “All of my most memorable moments are interactions with people.”
Each time the decision had to be made for Steven to stay in the Army, Steven and Denise have included their children in the decision. For example, around the 10-year mark, he had considered becoming a civilian once again.
“My family encouraged me to stick with it and take the next assignment; they knew I would miss the Soldiers too much,” Carozza said.
Although Denise has not pursued her own career during Steven’s service, she hasn’t exactly been sitting idly by at home. She has volunteered on the installations and in the communities where they have served, becoming an integral part of chapel groups, choirs, and associations, and doing so in a variety of positions.
“I am amazed [how] ‘one more assignment’ has gotten us beyond the 27-year point,” said Denise.
Two years ago, that one more assignment led them to U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Integrated Logistics Support Center, where Steven took over as the military deputy executive director in order to learn about enterprise-level sustainment operations at the request of Gen. Edward Daly, the then-deputy commanding general of U.S. Army Materiel Command.
“It gave me the opportunity to see the impact TACOM has on tactical formations,” Steven said. “It was beneficial to learn about enterprise-level sustainment operations and how we bring necessary resources to the field to enable Army readiness.”
After finishing up his time in the ILSC earlier this summer, Carozza once again had the opportunity to leave soldiering behind and retire. However, his desire to continue serving and taking care of people led him to take at least one more assignment — this time as the TACOM chief of staff.
“It’s an honor to continue serving the nation in another role,” Carozza said. “It’s a blessing and honor to continue to wear the uniform every day; I love being a Soldier.”
According to Denise, Steven has the analytical mind for his position in the ILSC, but he has always missed being with and leading Soldiers, which she feels he will get more of an opportunity to do as chief of staff.
“I am proud that my husband does not take freedom for granted and continues to honor those who serve…with his continued service,” said Denise.