Army Infantry: Soldier Profile

PFC Brandon Kalaskey joined the Army during his senior year in high school. He feels a sense of accomplishment at completing basic training and Airborne School and has a sense of pride when putting on his uniform.

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My name is Private First Class Brandon Kalaskey. I'm 11 Bravo, which is infantry. I am 18 years old and I come from Lafayette, New Jersey.

I enlisted about six months into my senior year. So it was about midway through my senior year in high school. I enlisted and I was still 17 at the time so my parents had to sign the papers and they were kind of iffy about that.

Having mixed emotions. I basically sat down with my parents and my brother as well and we all really just talked about it. Just every single night over dinner or after dinner we'd sit down for an hour, two hours something like that and just really talked about the military. My recruiter helped a lot. He was very helpful.

A lot of people say that recruiters aren't the best, and they try to just get you in the military. But I feel like my recruiter, his name is Sergeant Rivera, and he really helped us out a lot. My parents were able to go to him and talk to him. They also went online and tried to figure out everything. And went to the Army website, I watched the interviews and stuff like that. My recruiter gave me a website I could go to actually talk to some people that are in the military. I could go online just kind of online chat with them be like ‘hey I have a few questions, are you able to answer them.' Its all different ranks. From people who've been in for 20 years to people who've just in a few months, so that helped out a big-time on the decision.

Basic training for me was 14 weeks long and I had quite a few challenges. It was definitely challenging. I never thought that I would be able to survive without being home or having a nice freshly cooked meal every single night. Or I didn't know if I would be able to really make it in the military until I actually came down. Now that I look back I realize that I made it through basic training. I made it through airborne school. I've always dreamed of doing it and now I finally realized that I accomplished it.

When I put on the uniform I usually have a mixed emotions every morning. Sometimes I really enjoy it. Like, ‘Finally I'm a Soldier and I can do my duty.' But other times, sometimes I feel like I don't deserve to wear it because sometimes I don't feel like I've earned it. I really don't feel like I've fought for my freedom yet. Cause they always describe a Soldier as fighting for your freedom, and I kind of realize ‘hey I just got out of basic training,' I've just been training and everyday kind of increases more, like ‘Hey, I'm actually working towards something better.' And every time I look at a uniform or see a uniform I feel proud that I'm starting to wear it and it feels nice every morning to know that I'm doing something that's greater than myself and I really try and strive for that.