Staff Sgt. Derrick Hodges does not lack clarity.
He recalls the exact moment he knew he was destined to be a Soldier, and he has not lost focus on his goals since. Hailing from a family with a long and proud tradition of service, he took a moment to reflect on his own experience and to offer some advice to the next generation of Soldiers.
Q: Why did you join the Army?
A: As a young man about to graduate high school, I knew that I wasn’t mature enough to attend college and focus on my classes, so I started looking at alternatives to make a living. I was offered a manager position at the Little Caesars where I had worked during high school. That was the point when I knew I was joining the U.S. Army, because I wanted better for myself.
Q: How long have you been in the Army, and what are some of the highlights of your career so far?
A: I have 12 years of active service time, and a total of 15 years of military service. A highlight of my career so far has been the combat deployments, which helped me to understand that there is a much bigger picture to what we do; bigger than what the average person may see from the outside looking in on the military. Also, the people I’ve met from all walks of life along the way, some who I now consider family.
Q: What are some positive things the Army has provided you, personally and professionally?
A: Personally, the Army has allowed me to take care of my family and provide for them without a worry. It has also shown me the benefits of applying the Army values in my day-to-day life.
Professionally, it has allowed me to attend college now that I’ve grown and understand the importance of furthering my education. With Army schools, I’ve also been awarded certifications that will help me transition to the civilian sector once my career is complete here.
Q: What does the military mean to your family, and is there a tradition of service in your family?
A: The military – to my family – is one of the most important decisions we have ever made in our lives. I come from a military background with my father, uncles, cousins, sibling, spouse and father-in-law all either serving or having served. My family have all shown me what it means to serve your country, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Q: If you could go back in time, what would you tell a younger you about joining the Army and serving your country, and what advice would you have for any young person today considering joining?
A: I would tell myself to stick with it, as I have, and take advantage of college earlier on in your career. Also, always accept the hard task. They may be challenging, but it pays off tremendously in the end.
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