The Military Experience

Video by Grace Johnson

Maia Gaddis, Reporter

    The military can be seen as a singular experience for all soldiers but in reality, it’s quite varied. Life in the military can be different for many people depending on the branch they are in, their rank, and more. One thing that they all have in common is that it may impact their lives in one way or another. 

     Westpoint graduate, Mike Kohne has been in the Army for 10 years, serving as an infantry officer. He went to Fort Benning in Georgia, Fort Drum in New York, Texas, and was deployed to Afghanistan three times. Now he is training to become a foreign area officer and planning on going to Korea once his studies are complete. With Mike Kohne traveling from place to place, things are bound to be missed. 

     “The one downside to this is being away from home. We have a pretty big family and there are a lot of family events going on all the time. I don’t get to be there for all of those which is kind of not cool. Fortunately, the Army has a pretty nice community where you show up somewhere and they’re like, ‘okay cool, we’re all friends now.’ There’s a lot going on so it could be a lot worse,” Mike Kohne said.

     Missing people and events can go both ways, impacting not only members in the military but their families as well. Kevin Kohne, Mike Kohne’s father, shared that he had been both proud and concerned when his son joined the army. Now, Kevin Kohne sees it as normal, going about his daily activities while making the time to call his son. 

     “There was a little bit of a difference between when he started in school and when he was deployed. When he was in school, it was easier to say okay, we’ll just go along because it was a college. When he was deployed three times overseas, that’s when it got a little bit more scary. He was in some situations that were not pleasant and he could have gotten hurt a lot more than the people around him got hurt. The way the communications are now, I talked to him more when he was deployed then I do now. I was checking in every other day to make sure he was okay,” Kevin Kohne said.

     The military has given a way for both soldiers and families to stay in contact when they are so far apart, which can lead to a sense of ease between the two. Part of the reason for less communication can be that these men and women train for hours upon hours a day in order to serve their country. 

     “When I first started out, it was more of the stereotypical army day. We’d wake up and go to a 6:00 or 6:30 physical training formation where you do different exercises like running, push-ups, that kind of stuff. After that, you’d take a shower, have breakfast, then come back at 9:00. From 9:00-5:00, you are basically doing an inventory of different weapons, different training, going to ranges, doing paperwork, which is the best part of the army, and stuff like that,” Mike Kohne said.

     Though the days were scheduled the same for a while, things would change as overall jobs within the military became permanent. In this case, the first step to joining the military is knowing beforehand what it may be like to have this position.

     “If someone was just joining the military, I’d say it would be a great idea to talk to somebody that has done what they wanted to do. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of soldiers, I’ve been in a couple different leadership positions, like platoon leader, company commander, and the biggest issue that some soldiers have is when they show up and don’t understand what is going on. It’s definitely a very rewarding experience but it’s also very important to know what you are getting into so you’re not surprised,” Mike Kohne said.