ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. –
The Army is not for everyone. The lifestyle and responsibilities are difficult to adjust to.
“At first, I didn’t want to join the Army at all,” said U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Samantha Ortiz, a supply specialist with the 327th Military Police Battalion. “I was so against it like, ‘No, that’s not for me.’”
However, working three jobs and being uncertain how to make rent or afford groceries pushed her to make the leap. After meeting an Army recruiter outside of a store, she weighed her options and enlisted in the Army Reserve.
“I didn’t have anything going for myself,” Ortiz said. “I graduated early when I was 16 from my high school, and I was also emancipated. I really didn’t know what to do, and I knew that I was falling into really bad habits.”
Basic training and advanced individual training was a tough start. no one in her family had previously served or prepared her for what the Army entailed. The rigor helped make Ortiz not only a better Soldier, but a better person, too.
“I definitely do think it instilled a work ethic and discipline, also adding a lot of experience that I needed for the future,” Ortiz said. “Because without my transition into the Army, I would have never learned anything that I did, and I would have most likely still been in the same place.”
Not even six months into arriving at her unit, she was assigned to assist with the Afghanistan evacuation effort at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. While stationed there through the winter months, she gained insight on her situation.
“You really got to connect with all the [Afghanis] out there and hear their background, and it kind of just makes you think, 'I'm really lucky to be here,' ” she said.
Currently at 19, Ortiz holds a position as a Logistics Management Specialist for the Department of Defense and is looking to be promoted to sergeant.
Reflecting on her life now, joining the Army Reserve was one of the best decisions that she had ever made.
“I feel like without it, I wouldn't be where I am right now. I wouldn't have this job. I wouldn't have the opportunities that I had to travel and everything.”