More than a soldier
Veteran reflects on service, lessons learned
Boots on the ground. Chopper in the air. Gun in hand. Enemy nearby. The classic example of what it means to be in the military, right? Veteran and social studies teacher Jeremy Chettinger says otherwise.
“I was going to college at the time and decided to join the military for the GI bill,” Chettinger said. “I had a long history of people in my family serving in the military. My dad served in the military. He served in the same division in Germany as I did.”
Chettinger was initially trained at Fort Knox in Kentucky as a cavalry scout, and his first duty station was in Germany.
“Since I was a permanent soldier stationed there, they took us and made us opposition force against people who came to the base to help train,” Chettinger said. “It was kind of fun. We got to play the enemy a lot.”
Chettinger said using the different types of weapons such as the M1A1 tanks was a memorable experience.
“I was also trained in Germany to rappel out of aircraft, so that was fun,” Chettinger said. “I have a lot of memories rappelling out of aircraft, either on the ground or onto a building. Sometimes it went good; sometimes it didn’t go so well.”
Eventually, Chettinger was stationed in California, where he was presented with an opportunity to be a police officer and end his military career.
“I’m glad I had the opportunity to serve my country,” Chettinger said. “I feel like it would benefit everybody in some way to serve in any type of capacity they can. I think that’s the thing I’m most proud of: taking that opportunity to serve.”
Chettinger said being in the military is about more than fighting and going off to war.
“People believe it’s a last resort career, like they can’t go to college or be very good at something,” Chettinger said. “There’s a misconception that a lot of people in the military aren’t very educated or don’t have a lot of education, and that’s just not the case. I’ve met a large portion of highly educated people in the military.”
Chettinger said he learned focus, discipline and organization from the military, among other skills.
“It gives you an education that prepares you for anything,” Chettinger said. “I got to meet different types of people and got a perspective on how different people in the world think and how countries in the world operate. It gave me a better perspective and respect for our country. Being able to serve made me a better person.”