By Private 1st Class. Michael Vanpool
Task Force-Lifeliner, 101st Sustainment Brigade
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 8, 2010 - Private 1st Class Stephanie Daniels left Purdue University in her sophomore year to join the Army.
The Lafayette, Ind., native worked in a salon as a skincare specialist, while pursuing her business degree at college. The stress of studying and working more than 40-hours a week, plus the desire to change her life, however, made her reevaluate her circumstances.
"I was working two jobs and going to school," Daniels said. "I got burned out."
Daniels is now a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle driver for the Personal Security Detachment of the Mission Support Platoon for the 101st Sustainment Brigade.
Daniels said her father, a retired active duty and reserve first sergeant, and grandfather both influenced her to enlist in the Army. "I always wanted to be in the military because of my dad," she said.
She said she also wanted to move around and see different countries. Daniels enlisted as a Human Resource Information System Management Specialist in 2009. The occupation's duties of managing information systems for personnel fit in with her seeking a business degree.
During her nearly six months of training, Daniels said she felt challenged by the physical demands of basic and Advanced Individual Training, although she admits her love for running.
"When I first enlisted, I thought I'd get paid to work out," Daniels said. "Then I got in and realized I get to do cool things, like shoot weapons. And I've met some of best friends in the Army."
Daniels quickly adjusted to the military life by keeping an upbeat attitude. "I wasn't miserable like some people," she said. "I think I'm just too happy of a person."
After completing AIT at Fort Jackson, S.C., Daniels went to Fort Campbell, Ky., where she was assigned to the Human Resources Company, 101st Special Troops Battalion, and 101st Sustainment Brigade. She spent a few months with HR Co. before being selected for the brigade Personal Security Detachment. Daniels said she was chosen since she excelled at her warrior tasks.
"They needed a female with a 270 or higher PT test and a good weapons score," Daniels said.
Being one of two females on the PSD team, Daniels quickly proved herself among her male counterparts.
"I fit in pretty good with the guys, and I out-run most of them," Daniels said.
Aside from the physical demands of being on the PSD, Daniels caught on to the mission of the team.
"At first, I didn't really understand what PSD was," Daniels said. "All I knew was that there was a lot of training involved. Some of the NCOs on the team explained and helped me understand more about it."
Daniels said she and her fellow PSD members spent several months preparing for their deployment to Afghanistan, including training with Special Forces for a month. Daniels described that training as some of the best days of her Army career.
"They train completely different than most units," she said.
She also performed urban patrol training with Special Forces, attended the Warrior Leader Course, Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and convoy training.
The months of training showed Daniels several aspects of the military that she didn't anticipate. "I know how to shoot so many weapons systems now, more than I thought I would ever see," she said. "I got to learn a lot about military equipment, which will help me in my future career."
Daniels said she plans on finishing her bachelor's degree at Purdue University and becoming an officer.
"The reason I joined enlisted, instead of finishing my degree and going officer, was because of my dad," Daniels said. "He said that coming from a place where you understand what privates go through will help you understand them and be a better leader."