After nearly nine years in the Marine Corps, Wayne King ended his enlistment with the intent to use Veterans Administration benefits to attend flight school.
When Sean Henninger left the Army, he joined the ranks of private contracting companies for overseas operations.
Both King and Henninger didn’t find exactly what they were looking for out of life after the military. That’s why both signed up for another stint in the military as part of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment.
The 32 prior-service trainees of Company A are going through a modified basic training cycle as part of the Army’s Fiscal Year 2017 End Strength Increase.
The cycle, a 6-week course, still requires the trainees to pass the same general requirements as the regular Brigade Combat Team (BCT) companies, just in an abbreviated timeline based on their having prior experience with the military, said Capt. Dustin Dobbins, operations officer at 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment. All Army enlistees with prior service in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines with more than a three-year break in service are required to attend this course.
Dobbins added their battalion is the only one in the Army conducting this type of training.
Sgt. 1st Class Gabriel Heglie, Company A senior drill sergeant, said this course is “night and day different” than the regular BCT cycles because of the reduced number of trainees, and the focus of the course is more on leadership.
“(We are) focusing more on leadership than the basic tasks because all of these Soldiers have been in the military and a lot of them have been in leadership positions,” he said.
As an infantry noncommissioned officer before getting out of the Army in 2012, Henninger is more focused on what being back in the military can do for him and his family. He said his goal is to complete his follow-on training as a combat medic, apply for flight medic school and eventually commission as an Army nurse.
“I didn’t have the same goals when I was a 19-year-old kid in the Army,” he said. “Now, I’m trying to set up a career to set myself and my family up for the long run.”
King tells a similar story. While he was able to use his benefits to complete helicopter pilot training, King is now just waiting to complete a warrant officer flight training package, which is something he couldn’t have done during his first enlistment.
“This is definitely a career mindset,” King said. “I have a family to support.”
Pfc. Michael Williams, a former Navy logistics specialist, said the civilian life wasn’t what he expected when he first got out of the military in 2014. After working multiple jobs, he found himself unemployed and needing a job.
“I feel like this is one of the best ways to guarantee I will have a career,” he said.
Williams added that the transition from the Navy to the Army was not what he expected. “Even though I am physically fit, this is tough for me,” he said. “(This is) way harder than Navy boot camp.”
Heglie said this group of Soldiers has proven they want to be here by giving it their all every single day.
“I think all of them are future leaders in the Army,” he said.