Years before his 2010 graduation from , Teneil Jones knew the next step on his journey would not include college, but a military post.
For Private Jones, protecting America is part of his civic duty—eight relatives on the maternal side of his family have served honorably.
Now, stationed with the 10th Mountain Unit at Fort Drum, N.Y., Jones had this to say while awaiting deployment to Afghanistan.
Patch: Why did you decide to enlist?
Jones: Bottom line, I enlisted to defend freedom around the world and to be able to travel.
Patch: How was basic training?
Jones: When I look back on it, I’m proud that I made it through. It’s hard to explain because so much happens. It’s all about having the discipline to finish.
Patch: Did basic help you get an idea about what you’d be doing?
Jones: It's pretty clear. In basic, you shoot at targets, learn how to spot IED’s, make tourniquets and call a medic. Guys who’ve been there said we’d be doing goodwill stuff too.
Patch: Goodwill? Like what?
Jones: It's really important for people to understand we’re not there to take over their county. We want to help them make it better. You now have everything run more like democracy.
Patch: What are you doing at Fort Drum?
Jones: Cold weather training, which is different for me. I’m a warm weather person. We moved to Bolingbrook after Katrina and that’s what I was used to.
Patch: What will you do in Afghanistan?
Jones: I’m probably going to be there anywhere from nine to 12 months. I’m infantry, a front line soldier that is there to engage the enemy. I’m the guy who’ll be kicking in doors and checking out buildings to make sure they’re safe.
Patch: Are you at all fearful about what’s facing you?
Jones: I’m more scared of big spiders. At least I was. In basic you have to face your biggest fear and just let me say I’m not afraid of them anymore.
Patch: How long is your enlistment?
Jones: Until 2013, but I’m probably going to re-up. I want to get a degree while I’m in and learn how to fly. I like the fact that I can go anywhere in the world.
Patch: What do you see yourself doing long-term?
Jones: Eventually, I want to be in Special Forces and do things that I wouldn’t normally do in the real world.