North student returns after finishing basic training


Albert Lopez

This summer, senior Albert Lopez made a commitment to the Army National Guard, and endured ten weeks of basic training in St. Robert, Missouri.  Lopez returned from Fort Leonard Wood on Aug. 11, happy to be back with his family and close friends. Albert was full of stories of his adventures from boot camp, and the training he describes certainly was not easy. According to Lopez, the drill sergeants focused on two things: mental training through discipline and also physical training through various daily exercises.  The challenge of the physical training is coupled with the adjustment to a completely different way of life.

All recruits must adjust to a new way of living; highly regimented, almost no free time, and even time being expressed differently. You are trained to think less of yourself and more of your unit. “When one person messes up, we all had punishment,” said Lopez. Discipline was the key to turning the young group of boys into men who wish to someday serve further in the military or pursue a degree with the tuition assistance the guards provide.

Lopez’s first activity when getting home was eating a meal his mother made for him. That meal was a blessing after receiving rather tasteless meals at Fort Leonard. There was a day when the boys were allowed to eat a well prepared dinner with their family, Lopez remembers being so exhausted from the vigorous training the night before, that he was unable to fully enjoy the meal.

The moments shared between his fellow trainees were not always easy. “You just create strong bonds with a lot of the guys and become good friends. Some of the other guys were kind of annoying though, and made it hard to work with them,” said Lopez. Lopez does concede that the experience of dealing with many types of people and personalities all went towards his development as not only an individual but also as a citizen.

The Army National Guard is becoming more and more of a popular choice for kids who are looking for a way to get their tuition paid for college. The cost of tuition is constantly increasing, and not many kids have parents that are able to pay for four years of tuition, books, and boarding. Kids today who want a four year degree face going into serious debt to achieve their goals. The National Guard seeks to assist its members in their endeavors in education, which is an extremely attractive choice for the next generation of Americans.

“The National Guard allows me to seek a better opportunity in college. It’s a huge relief off my back, and I’m glad that I can serve my country in a way while receiving this kind of benefit,” said Lopez.  The National Guard branch of the military gives its associates these advantages to spur the interest of young people. The more and more the National Guard grows, the benefits will only get better.

Although the months he spent at Fort Leonard were tough, they did have some positive effects. “The training made me into a stronger person physically and mentally and has prepared me for getting serious about serving,” he said. Lopez plans on going into further training this coming summer to complete his Advanced Individual Training to become a bridge crew member.