As she graduated from high school, Heather Davis realized there were limited options for paying for higher education.
“My brother, who’s seven years older than me, had joined the military. When I graduated, I thought I wanted to go one direction, but I missed the boat on a lot of scholarships, so I joined the National Guard,” said Davis, whose military career includes time in the Guard, the Army Reserves and as an active duty officer
While attending college in Washington state, she joined the ROTC program and graduated college as an officer. Her unit worked in the Tacoma port, and when she went to Kuwait for two months in 2003, her unit was responsible for receiving equipment bound for Iraw and Afghanistan.
“We worked mainly in the staging areas as equipment came off the boat,” she said.
She had various duties including working in operations and as a platoon leader. Her platoon was responsible for cleaning equipment.
After returning, she met her husband, Kevin, who was in the active duty. He was transferred to Fort Gordon while she was transferred to an Army Reserves unit in the area. By 2010, it appeared she and her husband could be deployed at the same time, leaving their young son to stay with grandparents for a year.
As it turned out, Davis, who was a captain by that time, was able to remain in the area while still fulfilling her military obligation. Her husband spent two years in California - the first year without his wife and son. They moved with him for the second year. As he was going through the process of being medically retired, he was sent back to Fort Gordon with a specialized unit. During that time, Davis also separated from the military.
Davis said they wanted to stay in the Augusta area because it was too expensive to live in California, and they’d already planted roots in Georgia.
When thinking about her life after the military, Davis had considered going into physical therapy and had even been accepted into a program at Aiken Technical College, but her military obligation prohibited her from following through. After returning from California, the program no longer existed and she looked for another option.
Davis is a labor and delivery nurse at University Hospital. She paired her bachelor in psychology with an associate in nursing from Aiken Technical College. She’s scheduled to finish her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Texas Arlington in November.
Davis said she’s grateful for her military experience.
“I have two degrees from my time in the military,” she said.
Plus, there are the intangible benefits she’s also gained.
“Going into the military really opened my eyes. It broadened my mind and allowed me to travel and see the world,” she said. “Also, the leadership and discipline were huge.”