Clare with Sarge enlisting in the U.S. Navy
In Clare’s own words:
JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps)
“My sophomore year, I joined my high school’s AFJROTC unit. At first, I didn’t really think much of it; honestly, I thought it was GPA booster. I quickly realized it was so much more than that. JROTC offered a rank structure unlike any other program at school. I immediately fell in love with everything: the core values, the instructors and the responsibility. I loved that JROTC endorsed and embraced serving something greater than yourself. The instructors, especially “Sarge” took me under their wing and allowed me to grow into the Unit Commander during my senior year. Being a direct role model for ninety-plus kids made me realize the responsibility that comes with any title or rank, no matter how small.
As for how my JROTC experience influenced my decision to join the Navy, I’d have to say it was certainly a factor, but I don’t think it was the cause that engendered the effect. Rather I believe my involvement with JROTC was just an outlet for my innate programming to flourish. I always craved a structured setting with a clear path of improvement, JROTC matched that exactly. In order to continue satisfying that craving, I looked into the military as my next step in life.”
“This has to be the most popular question I’ve received since enlisting. People are so perplexed that you could make such a difficult decision for yourself. They think only some profoundly deep reasoning is sufficient when making said difficult decision. Most times I get caught off guard by this question and mutter, “Uhh, ships and boats.” People usually get a kick out of that.
I don’t know how to effectively explain that my reasoning goes back to my innate sense of purpose; and honestly, I don’t know if I’d want to.
Ever since I was little, I’ve always been drawn to the military. But I always felt an inexplicable connection towards the Navy.
This is where I belong. This is where I can best impact the world around me. That’s all.”
Active Duty vs Reserves
“Funny story: I almost enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard. I was hours away from swearing-in, when I received a call from a Navy Recruiter. I saw this as a sign because I had always wanted to be a Sailor, but with the immediacy of post-graduation plans, I guess I momentarily lost touch with that feeling. The Navy Recruiter started congratulating me on my ASVAB score, which I thought strange, because had done well, but I didn’t know I did THAT well. He said that I qualified for Nuclear and other intelligence-oriented careers.
I heard enough.”
“The first time I brought up joining the military, it was Sibling Bowling Night. I was probably in 7th or 8th grade. The five of us were talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Teacher, writer, business manager…Sailor. When the smallest and youngest of the bunch pulled that wildcard, you can only imagine the uproar of questions that followed. I calmly ignored their boisterous curiosity and reasserted myself.
Although shocked, my family never showed signs of real disapproval. There’s always a sense of apprehension that comes with having a family member wanting to serve, but that is to be expected. Honestly, I would be more worried if my family didn’t show some signs of nervousness, it just means they love me and care about my safety.
While my family’s support means a lot to me, I would’ve enlisted without their support because I believe this is what I am meant to do. However, it’s certainly easier knowing you have your own personal army rooting for you back home.”
Clare with Grandma
Relationships in the Military
“My high school sweetheart, Hunter, is in the same boat as me, no pun intended. He felt the innate pull towards the services at a young age and knew he wanted to serve in some capacity. In 2015, he enlisted in the US Army and left for basic training in 2016.
His decision never really impacted my own, if anything, he only reaffirmed my choice.
What makes the distance harder is when people inject their unsolicited advice about my relationship into random conversations. Everybody and their brother like to give their two cents on military relationships, when the truth is that most people don’t know ship about them. They would say things like, “Long distance is hard.” “You should probably break up before it gets too hard” or “BOTH of you are serving?! How will THAT work?”
I’ll be frank, I let these Debby-Downers get to me a couple of times. They made me question my decisions; both my decision to serve and my decision to date someone who is also serving. Ultimately, I decided I wouldn’t let anyone stand in my way of serving my country, while supporting my boyfriend and best friend who’s just trying to do the same.
We both knew the struggles we’d face before we signed up and we support each other in our decisions to serve. We love each other and believe whatever the end result of our relationship is, that we will always appreciate the fond memories we made together. As of right now, we have been in a singular-military-long-distance relationship for over a year and dating for a total of two years and we are still going strong.”
Clare and Hunter at the Military Ball
The Road to Come
“I am beyond excited to finally be embarking on this journey in my life and I am looking forward to where it will take me. I know the challenges will be many, but those challenges don’t know what they’re up against.”
Thank you Clare! Once again, we salute you and respect your decision to serve our country. We know you will be making waves in the future. Our thoughts and prayers go with you on this voyage.
AND, AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU TO OUR VETERANS, SERVICE MEMBERS, MILITARY COMMUNITY AND THEIR FAMILIES. WE APPRECIATE YOUR DEDICATION!