Student soldier embraces military service

Photo Illustration Elyse Taylor

With the current situation in the Middle East and with legislative powers in flux, the decision to join the military is not one to be made lightly. For senior Jason McNew, it was over a year in the making.

McNew joined the reserves nearly four months ago and shipped off to basic training Oct. 18. He will not be back until Christmastime. But he doesn’t mind, nor is he intimidated by the challenge.

“I feel very well prepared. I feel like I know what to expect and I’m ready for it.”

That has been McNew’s mindset for years. Growing up, he had his sights set on being a police officer. He briefly pursued a degree in Criminal Justice with the hopes of one day going to the police academy, but ended up changing his mind.

“I tried it and I just didn’t want the lifestyle that came with it,” he said.

He felt it was not enough to satisfy the “itch” he had. He felt his life lacked rigidity. He wanted more structure and rules. At the same time, McNew was struggling with paying for school. Like many students, he was receiving Pell Grants and had a job, but he was still unable to make ends meet.

He began to explore the military as a solution to both of his problems. The Army Reserve offered both the G.I. Bill to pay for his education and the structure he craved.

Money aside, there was another reason McNew decided to join.

“I thought about the army and that really started appealing to me, not only because of the whole structure and everything, but because of the honor of it,” he said. “I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but I actually really wanted to serve my country.”

Despite some apprehension of war, McNew?s family is really supportive of his decision. He comes from a family full of military history. All of his uncles served in assorted branches of the military and his brother is currently an officer with the reserves.

“Of course my mom is sad, but it’s not a new thing for her since my brother’s been in for 13 years now,” McNew said. “Everyone I’ve told, including my family, has said, ?That is so you. That is perfect for you.? ”

It is not for certain that he will serve on active duty, McNew explained. Because he is in the reserves, the chances of his unit being shipped off are small, but still possible. But if he does, he will be ready.

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