From private high school to a geeky college, I was as wholesome as they come. I was young, idealistic, and determined to put myself through college, one student loan at a time. Enter one Army recruiter who promised me the world. And I, young naive thing, believed him when he said I could choose where I'd like to be stationed. Lying jerk.

We all have defining moments in life, a specific incident or event that changes our perspectives forever. There I was, in Basic training, with my well-behaved self and stylish asymetrical haircut...completely out of my element. Reserved and quiet means I usually come across as arrogant, but a big female oaf from the Projects in Chicago was determined to put me in my place.

This particular day of training was spent with pugil sticks (from the latin meaning, "to fight, rock 'em, sock 'em, robot style, while bopping your opponent in the head"). I've seen a similar set up on Survivor: two opponents face each other on a beam, then try to pummel one other using a long pole, with two padded ends, until one falls off. This was also the day we learned how to gore a potential enemy with a bayonet attached to an M-16. How many times have I needed that particular skill?

My opponent, Ms. Badass Chicago street fighter thought being street savvy meant she was going to wipe me all over Ft. Jackson, South Carolina and I'd run back to the barracks snivelling, begging her in the future to help polish her boots. She was a gangly 5'10", I was a slight 5'7", which I think actually helped me in the end (lower center of gravity). What she didn't know is that I had been captain of the lacrosse team - I was well-versed in the handling of sticks. So I played her like a weekend tournament, pushed her off the beam, and emerged victorious. HA! I learned that I'm not intimidated by anyone and she learned not to judge OR trust the quiet ones in BDU's. Win-win.

My two years as a medic was child's play compared to the sacrifices soldiers and their families make daily for our freedom. Give thanks for them today and every day - I do.

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