FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Although there were challenges, Maj. Joshua Davis said growing up a military child gave him more opportunities than hardships and is the reason why he serves today.
Davis’ father, William, served as a Marine and a Soldier for a combined 26 years.
“We moved around a lot when I was a kid,” said Davis who is social worker assigned to the 531st Hospital Center. “From birth until college I moved six times. I was born at Fort Benning, Georgia, then moved to Bad Kreuznach, Germany, then Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Drum, New York; and back to Fort Leavenworth.”
The constant moving meant most of Davis’ childhood friendships were short-lived. Parting with close friends was the worst part of moving, he said.
In addition to losing friends, Davis had to overcome challenges at school after each move because not every school counted the credits from the previous one.
“I was the oldest person in my Spanish 1 class because my Latin credits didn’t transfer from New York to Kansas,” he said. “I was also one of the oldest kids in some of my math classes because credits didn’t transfer from Oklahoma to New York and then from there to Kansas.”
Between never knowing what would come next and worrying about meeting new people at a new duty station, Davis said trying to find any positives in his circumstances was difficult. But in hindsight he realizes how many opportunities he was afforded because of his father’s service.
“When I think back about my childhood, I typically think about how it took time for me to realize how lucky I was,” Davis said. “In the moment, saying goodbye to people is hard and I hated it. However, I can look back at it now for all the positives and realize that I do not see that many negatives.”
Called to serve
Growing up a military child influenced Davis’ decision to serve, but it was ultimately his father’s service to others that led to his commitment to helping others.
“As the son of an Army physician, I learned to appreciate and love service to those who have served,” Davis said. “Service to others and the country were unspoken values in our household.”
Those same strong familial values made Davis decide to become an Army social worker – the best decision he’s ever made, he said.
“I became a licensed clinical social worker to help and serve those who chose to serve,” Davis said. “After 10 years, I’m still in the Army and I can’t imagine life without those choices. I chose to be a social worker because I always knew I wanted to help people.”
Davis has been stationed at Fort Campbell since 2018 and recently returned from a deployment where his skills as a medical professional were put to the test under extreme circumstances.
“I returned in late January from Qatar where I was with the 501st Medical Company (Area Support) as part of the Afghanistan withdrawal,” he said. “In, Qatar, was the sole behavioral health provider for multiple units as well as the evacuees from Afghanistan.”
Davis said the increasing awareness of mental health issues in society and the Army is part of the reason he enjoys his job and why it matters. He hopes to use his skills to help others heal from the trauma of war.
“First, it’s no secret that over the last two decades, the world has realized there’s far more to health care than just the physical aspect,” Davis said. “And secondly, now we have a generation of Soldiers who have never not known war. If someone joined in 2001, they have just recently hit their 20-year mark. That’s such a long career of knowing nothing but conflict, and that can take an enormous toll on an individual and his or her Family.”
Davis said his success stems from the strong values he learned from his parents and moving from one installation to another as a child. While upsetting at the time, moving often strengthened his ability to cope with change.
“I think moving around helped me be more adaptable in any given situation and more resilient,” he said. “Resiliency is more easily ingrained in children than adults. When forced to adapt and overcome as a child, it becomes second nature.”
Davis said he has heard Families’ concerns about uprooting their children and what that might mean to them, but he does not think moving is always a bad thing.
“I applaud parents considering their children while discussing a permanent change of station and careers,” Davis said. “But I think it is important for people to know that their kids are far more resilient than we realize, at least in my experience.”
Because he knows what it is like to be the child of a Soldier, he gives credit to today’s military children.
“Imagine being a kid, of any age, and having one or both of your parents leave one day,” Davis said. “You are not sure when you will get to talk to them, when they are coming home, or even exactly where they are or what they are doing. They are expected to go about their normal lives until that parent comes home. It takes an incredible amount of resiliency and perseverance to navigate this set of circumstances as a child.”