Baldwin Wallace University rising sophomore Mallory Swogger

To mark Armed Forces Day, rising sophomore athletic training major and softball player, Mallory Swogger '20, explains why she wants to enlist.

Student Perspective: Why I Chose the Army

May 19, 2017

Mallory Swogger at home in small-town PennsylvaniaTo mark Armed Forces Day 2017, rising sophomore athletic training major and softball player, Mallory Swogger '20, explains why she wants to enlist in the Army.

There are typically two distinct reactions when people hear that I want to be a soldier: a mix of disgust and surprise, or support and pride. Either reaction is always followed by two questions: "Why?" and "Aren’t you scared?"

The first time someone asked, I was caught off guard. I gave the vague, "No, I want to serve my country" reply, not really sure what else to say. Since then, I have done a lot of thinking about why the military is a natural choice for me.

Patriotic roots

I was raised in a small, patriotic Pennsylvania town. In Wampum, American flags hang from every front porch; every stretch of four-lanes is named after Veterans; before each home game we sing the national anthem with our hands over our hearts; and high school graduates who don’t go to college usually enlist in the military. That upbringing taught me to believe that America is the greatest country on earth.

I also grew up surrounded by family members who served in Vietnam to Desert Storm; these veterans were my heroes. The most influential is my Great Uncle Dwayne who, as one of the very first Green Berets, served three tours in Vietnam. He always told us he, "would do it again in a heartbeat." I aspire to be half of the human being that he and the other veterans in my life are.

Defending the American Dream

Most of us spend our lives chasing the American Dream. I want to defend that way of life. I love that my country gives everybody a chance to achieve, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Some may have to work harder than others, but we learn to live with the cards we are dealt. I want to defend opportunity for every person who comes after me.

On 9/11, I was too young to truly understand the events of that day. But as I grew up, I saw the effect on my family and country. Talking to recruiters brought something inside me to the surface. I realized just how determined I am to prevent such horror from ever happening again.

Choosing the Army

Once I was positive the military was for me, I had to pick a branch of service. I chose the Army because its seven core values mirror mine: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. My father, who raised me with these principles, said that being talked out of enlisting was "his biggest regret in life."

After talking to recruiters from every branch, the Army also seemed most like an extended family, looking after their own long after a soldier’s service ends, and extending that care to a soldier’s family if something were to happen to the soldier. On a more practical level, I know the military is a guaranteed job with many financial benefits. For my family and me, that means a consistent income, insurance, housing and GI Bills to cover tuition.

Seeing the world

Swogger is part of the Yellow Jacket softball team that traveled to Hawaii in 2017Another draw is the opportunity to see the world. Growing up where there’s more livestock than people is great sometimes, but there is so much more. Mark Twain once said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do." I want to look back at my life without wondering what I might have done.

The Army may not be the most conventional way to travel, but with U.S. military bases in places like Germany, Australia, Greece and Italy, I would get to see more than I ever imagined on top of deployments to places like Afghanistan and Iraq.

Duty, honor, country

Swogger ands her teammates pose with Pearl Harbor survivor Robert Lee on a visit to the memorialJoining the Army was not a decision I made lightly. Beyond the advantages, I also had to weigh the risks. A lifetime of medical coverage sounds great, but I get to keep it after 20 years of service mostly because my knees, back and more will likely be shot. On top of that, I had to accept the obvious: I could die or get maimed. To me, my life is minuscule compared to the millions of lives I am determined to defend.

General Douglas MacArthur once said, "Duty, honor, country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be." It takes a certain type of person to want to live by such a statement. I, for one, am incredibly proud that my greatest desire in life is to be a soldier. I want every boy and girl in this country to have a chance to live the American Dream, as I am living mine. I want to be a soldier because the colors of this flag do not run, and neither do I.