Reenlistment highlights possibilities, Army family bonds

By Stefan AlfordMarch 27, 2023

SPC Dakota Anderson looks at a big screen video teleconference system in Iraq as her uncle COL Ronnie Anderson administers her reenlistment oath from Redstone Arsenal, Ala.
SPC Dakota Anderson looks at a big screen video teleconference system in Iraq as her uncle COL Ronnie Anderson administers her reenlistment oath from Redstone Arsenal, Ala. (Photo Credit: US Army Courtesy Photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – With the Army focused on increasing its recruiting numbers, to include a revamped advertising campaign bringing back a popular slogan, the mission of keeping qualified, experienced Soldiers in the service is of equal importance.

One Soldier continuing to take the career possibilities of “Be All You Can Be” to heart is Spc. Dakota Anderson. She reenlisted March 23 for four more years during a video teleconference ceremony from her deployed location in Iraq to an Army Materiel Command conference room here where her uncle Col. Ronnie Anderson administered the oath.

Anderson, soon to be promoted to sergeant, said she initially joined the Army “because I did not see my life going in a direction where I could provide my son the life that he deserved, and I felt that I could do something more with myself than what I was doing. I reenlisted in the Army because I fell in love with the job, as well as the (Army) family. The Army has provided me with direction and structure, and has taught me so much about myself that I previously didn’t know.”

Anderson said the long-distance ceremony came about because she wanted her first reenlistment to be special for both of them.

"I know that when I joined the Army he was very proud and he has supported me throughout my career. It was important to include someone who I looked up to in my first reenlistment," she said.

Her uncle, who serves as the executive officer to the executive deputy to the commanding general at AMC headquarters, said the oath of enlistment was an emotional and moving opportunity.

“I’ve had the honor of reenlisting many Soldiers over the course of my career. Everyone is special for their own reasons, but to have the honor to administer the oath to my niece was extraordinary. Not everyone gets that experience.”

Col. Anderson also touched on the family aspect of the Army.

“The common bond Soldiers share makes serving in the Army the next best thing to your birth family,” he said. “I think our bloodline on top of our shared experiences as Soldiers made it a special opportunity for her, for us and for our whole family.

“Reenlisting a Soldier to continue service in the Army is always special,” he continued. “Our Soldiers and their families have a choice. When a Soldier and family chooses to stay in service, it’s an indication that we, the Army, have had an impact. I asked Dakota the same question I ask every Soldier I am honored to administer the oath: ‘Why did you join the Army and why are you deciding to stay?’ Almost every time, we join for ourselves, but we stay for the team, the unit, the mission, the comradery and being part of something bigger than ourselves.”

An all-source intelligence analyst currently deployed with her unit out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Spc. Anderson believes "the Army offers so many opportunities, even if it is just a stepping stone to something different. The Army will pay for you to go to college while getting paid a salary. The Army also offers a lot of different jobs, which could help further your career in the civilian world as well.”

Although she now plans to become a warrant officer and stay in the Army at least 20 years, she said she didn’t know what she wanted to do before she joined the service and that “the Army offers people who don’t know what to do with their lives a step to figure out what they want to do.”

Her uncle was one of those people as well.

“I told Dakota during the reenlistment ceremony that our paths as young adults were very similar,” he said. “We were both on a road to nowhere fast before we joined the Army. I joined the Army when our slogan was ‘Be All You Can Be’ and I feel like that slogan tells my story of service. I’ve transitioned from four years of enlisted service in the Army Reserve to 27 years on active duty as an officer. I’ve led the sons and daughters of America in five operational deployments at the company, battalion and brigade level.”

Rebranding the Army’s slogan serves as both a legacy and a way forward for the Andersons as the existing core and the next generation of Soldiers build the Army of 2030 and beyond.

“Graduating basic training was an accomplishment beyond anything I ever imagined I could achieve,” he said. “That put me on a path to discover more and more of what was possible for me. Dakota and I will both continue to be better day after day.”