Commentary: Serving a wonderful adventure, but looking forward to next chapter

By Ashley Hubbard (USASMDC/ARSTRAT)December 14, 2009

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Master Sgt. Erika White, right, congratulates Staff Sgt. Ashley Hubbard on her retirement from the Army Dec. 11. Hubbard was injured in Iraq and will be the first Wounded Warrior hired by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces St... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

As a 17-year-old high school senior, I saw the Army as a way to get my education and support my community. Now, 14 years later, I am a seasoned veteran and thankful for the chance to be a member of the greatest organization in the world.

My career has allowed me to travel the world and see places I could only dream of. I have reenlisted on the Red Sea; visited the pyramids of Giza in Egypt for my birthday; toured the ancient city of Jerusalem for Easter and watched the sunrise from the summit of Mount Sinai.

These adventures, while awe inspiring and amazing, do not compare to being part of the military community - the ability to see a diverse group of people work together for a common goal - not as a color or gender. I have learned to look at my fellow Soldiers as a part of my family that, just like my children, I am willing to give my life to protect from harm. Not many can understand how you can feel this way about a coworker, but it is a very big part of the Army family.

As I reflect on my 14 years of service, I remember my mentors, role models and peers who have helped me grow into the productive noncommissioned officer and citizen I am today.

Without their patience, caring and willingness to teach me, I would have left this job log ago. I have always had the advantage of working for some of the best NCOs in the Army.

My career has been a little different from the average transportation Soldier. I began with working in a battalion S3 as the operations clerk/driver. This provided me the opportunity to learn how the military works on a strategic and operational level.

My next job as the support operations maintenance clerk taught me how the maintenance and supply system worked to maintain combat power and overall equipment readiness. After learning the basics on how the military functioned, I was then placed in a line unit to do my military occupational specialty. The maintenance and operational background gave me the opportunity to understand how and why things happened the way they did.

With all the mentoring and coaching in the world, though, I would have never been able to survive my military career without the help and support of my family. My mother and father have stood by me for 14 years. Their support and sacrifices have allowed me to support and defend this great nation, and they have spent the last 14 years raising my children - without complaint.

My father will drop everything to help me with anything at any time of the day or night. It is my daughters, however, who have made the greatest sacrifice of all. Allison and Kristina have grown up with their mother deployed in a war zone or in a third-world country. I have missed all of their birthdays, Easters, Halloweens, school plays and important events in their lives. I can only hope and pray that as they grow older they will understand why I have done the things I have, and that they always know that no matter what, I love them more than I love life itself.

My journey in the military has come to an end that some would be envious of and some will not believe it is time for me to move on.

While on my third trip to Iraq, I was injured in a training accident. The injuries led to my medical evacuation from Iraq and ultimately to my retirement from the military.

In the last two years, I have fought to be closer to my family to aid in recovery from surgeries and other treatments. My transfer to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command on Redstone Arsenal, Ala., has been the greatest blessing of my whole ordeal. I have been placed on a road to succeed and support the Soldiers still on the ground, but this time as a civilian.

The USASMDC/ARSTRAT family has taken me under its wing and done everything in its power to assist me in making this transition as smooth and painless as possible. I could not have asked for a better opportunity than to be here as a part of this wonderful organization.

During the last 14 years, I have had good times and bad. There have been the exhilarating and sobering moments as well. I have been placed on this road for a reason. Maybe I do not understand what those reasons are but I do know I have been given a mission.

That mission is to become a successful and productive member of the civilian workforce in support of the Warfighter today. I will make the best of the opportunities I have been presented with and do my part to protect and serve the Soldiers and their families.

My other main mission is to become an awesome mother to two wonderful daughters and make the USASMDC/ARSTRAT family proud to have me as a part of their organization.