From Army to WO

Allie Buikema

Committing to spend part of your life away from your family, your friends, your home, fighting for your country and risking your life takes a very special person. One of West Ottawa’s very own counselors knows exactly what kind of courage and bravery it takes to join the military. Counselor Phil Spreitzer was in the U.S Army Reserves from 1984-1990. Being in the military is by no means easy, and it was a big challenge for Spreitzer. Throughout his experience in the military, Spreitzer gained many valuable lessons from the army and highly recommends it to any students who are interested and might need help with college funding.

  Spreitzer’s experience was a mix of many emotions. “I did not enjoy basic training or how we were treated,” Spreitzer said. Despite the many hardships Spreitzer faced during training, he strongly believes that the leadership training and hard work has served him well. Spreitzer originally signed up to fund his college expenses. However, he also took a great amount of pride in serving his country as both of his parents and all of his uncles did. Thousands of individuals will join the military fresh out of high school in order to have their college tuition paid for. This was the case for Spreitzer, and can be a smart decision for a lot of broke high school or college students who may not have the funds to pay for their pricey college expenses.

  Another challenge for Spreitzer was having to lead combat exercises. “It was difficult realizing that many would have died as we accomplished our goals. Had it been real life and not just a drill, I would have lost friends and had to write letters to their families about how they died,” Spreitzer said. Among the challenges Spreitzer faced, he was able to persevere and was able to graduate as the top soldier out of the 3,000 he was trained with during basic training. This was a very big achievement for Spreitzer, and it truly shows how seriously he took his training and career. Throughout it all, Spreitzer’s most rewarding experience was getting to help the soldiers under his supervision, and being able to travel to Germany with his unit.

  Being in any branch of the military, soldiers will go through many difficult, rewarding, and eye opening experiences. With these experiences come all the stories the soldiers are able to share with family and friends when they return. “During basic training, my squad was attacked in a pre-established kill zone. As the squad leader, I was able to help half of my 12 men survive and we captured the soldiers sent to kill us.  I was told that all of us should have been killed in the kill zone. I was very excited that I was able to save half of my men.” This was one of the many rewarding stories Spreitzer shared about his training experience.

  Being a veteran makes Veteran’s Day even more sentimental and special. It is a day to commemorate all of the retired, currently fighting, and fallen soldiers and the utmost appreciation the U.S has for them. “It is great to be able to recognize all of the men and women who sacrificed their lives and served with pride as a nation.  It helps the veterans know that we are appreciated,” Spreitzer said. Veteran’s Day is just one of the 365 days of the year that soldiers should be recognized and thanked for their immense amount of courage and bravery.