Letters from the Front! By SGT Maiya LeBron Battalion Medical Team, U.S. Army
When you’re 17 years old and a junior in high school, you’re constantly being bombarded with questions of what you’re going to do when you graduate, “Are you going to college?”, “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?”, “You must pick a career path that makes good money or else you won’t be happy or successful”. At 17 years old, the world is almost in your grasp yet so many questions and crucial decisions must be made at such a fragile age. I was a good student in school; I had straight A’s, played sports, participated in school clubs. I was in the National Honor Society, student council, and was even class president. With a resume like this, it seemed as though going to a four-year university was the only option. However, the price tag of the university option is daunting, to say the least.
Coming from a hardworking, middle-class family, having my parents pay for my tuition was never the plan, nor was it expected. Joining the military was never an idea I had entertained because growing up, going to college seemed like the only option. It wasn’t until I talked to teachers and recruiters that I realized that so many doors could open and opportunities would arise by joining the military; and indeed, they did.
In all honesty, being the impressionable 17-year-old that I was, in a very spur of the moment, I joined the Ohio Army National Guard on 23 February 2016, two days after my 17th birthday with the love and support of my incredible family. This decision came with intentions of both going to college to pursue a career in the medical ﬁeld while simultaneously exploring an experience entirely out of my comfort zone.
In between my junior and senior year of high school, I completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, then returned home to graduate high school. Soon after graduating in May 2017, I departed for Combat Medic School at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. I was the ﬁrst in my family to attend a University and am currently attending the Ohio State University majoring in Biology Pre-Med with goals to attend Physician Assistant school.
Fast forward to January 2021, I am seven months into a deployment in the Middle East with great gratitude to have the opportunity to reﬂect on my military career in its entirety. I have had the pleasure to work with so many knowledgeable, inspirational, and strong-willed individuals from all walks of life. During my time in the Army, I’ve gained valuable experience in the medical ﬁeld which has enforced my love and eagerness to continue my venture within the ﬁeld. Although signing the dotted line was at most a random decision, it was probably the smartest thing I could’ve done for myself. There are not many things I can thank the 17-year-old me for, but joining the Army is deﬁnitely something I’ll always be thankful for. Joining has allotted me opportunities to grow as an individual and as a leader. I have been able to learn from fellow soldiers and lead, all while learning about myself, my limits, and what I am truly capable of along the way.