Anthony Braddix had no desire to join the Army.
“I wanted to go to the University of Arkansas and play basketball for Nolan Richardson,” said Braddix, who joined the Army with a buddy and spent nine years in the service.
Braddix didn’t come from a military family and didn’t see it as a way to pay for college, but when his friend suggested he talk to a recruiter and get a day off school, he did. Braddix told the recruiter he wanted to do something with computers.
At first, he regretted his decision.
“I hated the Army. I hated everything about it,” he said. “The people didn’t care, and it frustrated me.”
But it wasn’t long before he was put into a different unit, and he met some non-commissioned officers who changed his view of the Army.
“I had great, great NCOs. They raised me in old school Army, and I loved it. They really cared. Whatever issue I had, little or big, they cared. They taught me the Army values, and they really lived them,” he said.
Because of how they treated him, Braddix wanted to be just like them, and he became an NCO.
“They made me realize that being an NCO is not about getting a job done. It’s about taking care of people,” he said.
Braddix said he believes that if you take care of the people who work with you, they will do the best job they can for you. He often found the hard cases sent his way – the ones who struggled and failed or had problem attitudes. In a lot of cases, he saw the problems go away after the person realized there was someone who cared.
His commitment to people and his work ethic caught the attention of others in his chain of command, and they approached him about becoming an officer. Braddix declined.
“I said I wasn’t political enough. I loved my soldiers too much, and I loved dealing with their life issues,” he said.
Braddix stayed in the Army until 2003 just before Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March. One of his last assignments was in Bahrain where he worked as the military began to set up its computer networks.
Braddix now works as a government employee at Fort Gordon in cyber protection.
Now that he looks back on his military service, he knows that while it wasn’t his plan, he believes it was the right plan.
“God directed that I joined it,” he said.
He said his military experience has benefitted him in many ways.
“It took me from home, and it caused me to meet all types of people from all walks of life. It taught me to value other people’s perspective. It taught me teamwork,” he said.