On this episode of Barracks Stories, I talk to a Navy veteran buddy of mine. He immigrated from Nigeria in late 2007 at the age of 25, unsure about what to do for work or school once he was in the States. At the encouragement of his cousin who was in the Navy, he started looking into joining the Army because he didn’t know how to swim. His mother objected to this idea strongly, not wanting to send her youngest son off to the Middle East, so he decided to follow his cousin’s lead and join the Navy, where his mother assumed he would always be safe on a ship.
He enlisted in the US Navy in March 2008 and went through MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in Richmond, Virginia, just two weeks later. He was completely unaware of the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) aptitude test that he had to take upon his arrival in Richmond, but he received the excellent score of 69 without any preparation. However, because he was in the US on a green card and had not become a citizen, he was not able to accept a high-level position requiring Secret security clearance, so he served as a Store Keeper for two years and then a Logistics Specialist for Aviation.
After making the mistake of watching “Full Metal Jacket” the night before leaving for boot camp, he reported for duty at Great Lakes, Illinois, and met the others in his division, which included some females and a few others who were from Africa. He quickly learned how to swim before his graduation from boot camp in September 2008. After a short and miserable stint at A School in Meridian, Mississippi, he was sent to Virginia Beach for shore duty with the ASD (Aviation Shore Detachment) Oceana, where he stayed for two years.
For the remaining two years of his military service, he was stationed in Bahrain, home of the US Navy’s 5th Fleet. He found that the boiler-plate orientation he received about the Middle Eastern culture was inaccurate and that talking with the locals as human beings was the best way to engage with the culture. At the end of his time in Bahrain, he left the Navy and began the process of adjusting to civilian life in the States. Beginning back home in Virginia, he eventually pursued an opportunity that he heard about in Texas, which ended up being a dead end and led to a time of isolation and depression. He earned his Associate’s degree from Strayer University before moving to New York and entering Pace University in 2014.
Looking back, he wishes that he would have put himself first and done more primary research about opportunities to pursue after leaving the military. Thanks to my friend for joining me on this episode!
Links & Resources Mentioned in this Episode: