Face of Defense: Soldiers discuss service, Veterans Day
HOHENFELS, Germany, November 9, 2015 — Although World War I officially ended June 28, 1919, the fighting had stopped several months earlier, when “an armistice … between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month."
U.S. President Woodrow Wilson declared Nov. 11 as Armistice Day, according to the Veterans Administration. Through legislation passed June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became Veterans Day -- a day to honor American veterans of all wars.
Since the 9/11 attacks against America, many U.S. service members have become seasoned warriors, some with multiple deployments under their belts. Many troops have chosen to continue their service in the military.
"The greatest thing about the Army is the camaraderie," said Spc. Judy Mera Rosa, an unmanned aerial vehicle operator, and self-described "military brat" with 10th Engineers Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "Camaraderie is what it's all about, because if you don't have it, it is just another 9-5 [job]."
Although her father is a retired Army major, Rosa made the decision to join on her own.
"My father definitely talked me through it. He shared what he knows and gave me whatever advice he saw fit," Rosa said. "The Army has helped me grow as a person. I like the structure. The Army gave me some direction and purpose. I have learned more about who I can be for other people, rather than just who I am for myself."
Some troops have a family legacy of military service. Others bravely blaze a new trail and join the military seeking new challenges and an opportunity to improve their lives.
Army Sgt. Charles Roseboro, a combat engineer with 10th Engineers Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, from Charlotte, North Carolina, is the first in his family to ever serve in the military. As one of six siblings, Roseboro wanted to set a good example for his younger siblings.
"One of the biggest reasons why I joined the military is because I just felt like I was stuck in time. Sometimes you need to be taken out of your element to actually work on yourself," Roseboro said. "By serving in the Army, my family can see me doing something a little different than the norm. It's good for my brothers and sisters to see. There are six of us; we range in age from 14 to 25."
Saluting Veterans’ Sacrifices
Roseboro said the significance of Veterans Day is clear to him.
"Veteran's Day is a day that we can sit back and think of the people who have gone overseas and fought wars for many decades for our country, and in some cases died -- much thanks to those before me," he said.
Roseboro said he’s grown as a person since he joined the Army.
"I've learned a lot about different cultures, and how people live, and how people value certain things in life," he said. "When I was in Afghanistan, I would always see this guy at 7:30 in the morning, herding his sheep from one field to another to keep them healthy and give them exercise. I felt like that was something so good, but also so disciplined, because he did it at the same time every morning. I noticed the dedication that he had for his family.”
Roseboro added, “I am a different person since I joined the Army. I have started [earning] a college degree and I have become more professional."
President Barack Obama spoke of the sacrifices of the nation’s veterans and their families in his 2015 Veterans Day Proclamation.
"On Veterans Day, we reflect on the immeasurable burdens borne by so few in the name of so many, and we rededicate ourselves to supporting those who have worn America's uniform and the families who stand alongside them," Obama said in his proclamation.
Soldiers’ Personal Sacrifices
Rosa's husband is also a soldier, but stationed elsewhere.
"Most definitely, being away from my husband is my biggest sacrifice," Rosa said. "We joined the Army together. We've been apart for basic training, Advanced Individual Training, and then the last two rotations. We are getting through it -- but I miss him and I want to be in the same room with him."
Most soldiers find their own means of coping with the necessary sacrifices. Roseboro said he stays focused on his mission and big-picture outcomes.
"The greatest sacrifices I make being in the military are being away from my 9-month-old son and being away from my family," he said. "What kind of evens me out is knowing that I am in a state of bettering myself. At a certain point, when it is time for me to hang up my uniform, I have done the best I can to provide for my family and show them a better route in life."
Roseboro appreciates the benefits of military service and he encouraged other young men and women to follow his lead.
"I would tell any young woman or young man considering joining the Army -- ‘Do it!’" he said. "Go get a college education. There are so many benefits that come with the military -- go travel the world. You don't have to do 20 years; you can just do one contract.
“There are so many benefits, [including] as the G.I. Bill,” Roseboro continued. “You will always be a soldier. So, once you get out and you're looking for a job as a civilian, you'll network with those battle buddies and they can help you out."
Honoring, Supporting America’s Veterans
The President's proclamation highlighted the importance of honoring and caring for the nation’s veterans.
"Our true strength as a Nation is measured by how we take care of our veterans when they return home," Obama said.
"Our veterans left everything they knew and loved and served with exemplary dedication and courage so we could all know a safer America and a more just world,” the president continued. “They have been tested in ways the rest of us may never fully understand, and it is our duty to fulfill our sacred obligation to our veterans and their families.”
Obama added, “On Veterans Day, and every day, let us show them the extraordinary gratitude they so rightly deserve, and let us recommit to pledging our full support for them in all they do."