The Sarah Eckhardt Campaign is honored to have two veterans on our team. Here is a message about Veterans Day from one of them – our volunteer coordinator, Tom Gilliam.
I joined the United States Army on November 3, 2003, when I was 22 years old. Although I didn’t agree with the Iraq War, I felt a sense of obligation to serve. Sometimes I think I may have been reading too much Walker Percy, but I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t always wanted to be a soldier.
Thanks to the Army, I had the opportunity to go abroad for the first time. My first duty station was with the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea, arguably the Army’s most intense environment outside of an actual combat zone. My year there left me with an appreciation of Korean food and culture that lasts to this day.
Although I was trained as an artilleryman, I deployed to Iraq in 2005 on a transportation mission. Along with my brothers from the 6th Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment I spent a long year navigating the most dangerous roads in the world. I left the Army in 2007 as a sergeant and I returned to college on the GI Bill.
While in the Army I met and befriended people from all walks of life; it really is a microcosm of American society. As far as I’m concerned, there is no stereotypical veteran. I was a politically liberal soldier, and I was by no means lonely. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect in this society between the population at large and our veterans. That needs to change, and hopefully I can help make a difference.