From Medical Specialist to Special Forces Officer

CPT Forrester talks about changing his Army career from a medical specialist to becoming a Special Forces Officer (18A).

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I'm Captain Kendrick Forrester, I'm an 18A, Special Forces officer and I'm from Brooklyn, New York.

My path to being an officer started as a medical specialist in the Army. I worked in the hospital. Halfway through my enlistment I realized I really wanted to be a ranger. I really wanted to be SF. So, midway through that I changed, and went OCS and became an infantry officer and later became Special Forces.

What I've learned from being in the Army, enlisted and officer, is just the leadership. I have learned how to work through problems. I have learned how to work in complex environments. The core of leadership is being able to motivate people through, hard times whatever it may be. You get a mission, you accomplish that; you inspire them; you motivate them, you get it done. And that is what leadership is really all about.

So from the day you come in the Army you learn how to do that. And as you move up from a private to a sergeant to a lieutenant to a captain to a general, your entirety is gaining that aspect of what is my mission, how do I motivate people to get it done.

And I'm a bit bias; I will tell you absolutely, being enlisted made me a better officer. I know not everyone can do that, that route. However I think being enlisted and understanding what its like to be a Soldier, understanding what its like to look up to your leadership, gives me that appreciation and it give me the understanding of what I need be as a officer as a leader, cause you can't forget that. And you always remember where you started from and what you want to be and what you aspire to be at the end of the day.

Being an NCO was a great experience. I mean, you're there day-to-day helping to run the Army. As an officer you're there day to day helping to lead the Army to where we need to go. The NCO's make it happen, the officership says, ‘here's the mark where we want to go.'

What we look for in Special Forces are guys that can look at a problem set, figure it out and be able to get those solutions to those problem sets.

The training does incorporate physical aspects because you never know where you'll be. And a lot of times as a Special Forces Soldier, you'll be in an environment by yourself, independent from anyone else so you have to be physically get through that environment.

However, it's the mental aspect that is really the capstone, the epitome of the Special Forces Soldier. How they adapt to the environment and they continue on with the mission.

Your job is basically somewhere else in another country with another force helping to, either, helping the foreign internal defense, fighting against terrorist cells there or helping the larger Army in the Iraq and Afghanistan fighting against insurgency and anything that crosses the board.

You understand the realism of when you join Special Forces that you're going to spend a little time away from home. When you're out in the environment combat or in another nation, it's just you and 11 other guys on your team. So what you realize is that your life lies in their hands. So that is a bond that is hard to explain to someone who's outside of that. Realistically your life depends on this man to your left and right.

Those are the things that you really can't explain unless you join Special Forces, you'll understand how tight knit that brotherhood is.

Everyday I put my uniform on and it's just kind of you look back and you realize that it's been a great experience. The Army's been a wealth of just great times. There's bad experiences, but the great times far outnumber those. And it's just been a wonderful experience.

My goal in the Army is to continue doing what I'm doing. I love my job and there is a sense of job satisfaction. So as long as I am taking care of the men and accomplishing the mission, that is my goal in the Army.

I'm far more patriotic now than I ever was. And that is just from the experiences of going overseas and seeing other nations.

So, I think at the end of the day what you've gained from the Army is a wealth and lifetime of experiences of how other people live and how great it is to be in the United States, to be an American, what we really stand for.