Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

During our oldest son’s junior year in high school, he decided to look into military service as an option after graduation. Reports of young men and women dying in service were on the news regularly. However, we had always tried to teach our son to be independent and think for himself. He had strong convictions about serving his country as well as practical reasons like getting college funding.

We went with him to meet with the recruiter, and asked nearly as many questions as he did. We left the recruiter’s office and explained to our son that it was the recruiter’s job to “sell” him on joining, but that he was free to change his mind and go to college or work after graduation. Most importantly, we told him we would support his decision and then we let him decide what to do. (That doesn’t mean I didn’t go to bed many nights and fear for his safety).

Helping our child grow up into a happy adult meant allowing him control over his destiny, even when it was not what we pictured for his future. He had always wanted to be a math teacher, and now he wanted to become a soldier.

He ended up spending 10 years in the Army, including an 18-month tour in Iraq and three years in Japan before, during, and after the tsunami. We were proud of him even as we continued to lose sleep worrying about his safety.  Now, he is out of the Army and happily working in the private sector. He is happy—happy with his life and his choices.  That’s all we could ask for. Getting him to keep in touch is another story!!