Author: Jarrod McClendon, TCU Student, Fall 2014
I remember feeling like a complete failure. Not only had I lost my job, and my apartment, and my car, but I had lost my will to win. I lost the ability to keep fighting. At the age of 23, sleeping on my mother’s couch and doing side jobs for food money wasn’t the greatest expression of my new found adulthood. Those around me that actually knew that I was better and expected it. I had become so enveloped in my own desperation that I sank into a deep depression. All the while, I had a guardian angel pushing me forward. I’ve always felt that losing my grandmother, JoAnne, at such a young age, though devastating, was just Gods way of placing a protective hand directly over me. She was my protector. At an instance I knew that I needed a fresh perspective, a new start. I contacted an Army recruiter that was closely connected with my family and within the first few moments of our conversation I knew this was for me. The Army embraces lost boys like myself, and seeing that I didn’t have anything else to call my own, I embraced the Army in return.
Going through the training brought about its own challenges but nothing that I couldn’t take head on. There was a new found confidence that I was issued and for once in my life I felt like I was becoming the man I was supposed to be. No excuses, no material possessions to define me. Out of everything I had done the one thing that mattered the most to me was the lasting friendships that were created. I met and became friends with people that would forever shape my future and I don’t think I realized that until after we went our separate way. The day would eventually come when I had a choice. I could reenlist and continue to grow in the Army, or I could finish out my contract and exit to complete my degree. This was by far the hardest decision of my life. But again, that guardian angel was there with that push. This time I don’t think she was alone. I had a couple of those good friends that I met in my five years pass away. These names were synonymous with dedication, courage, and strength. These were people I told my story to, people who knew my dream of graduating from TCU and becoming an officer. It is because of the spirit of these individuals that I am here doing what I am today. To come from my mom’s couch, to attending one of the best private schools our nation has to provide is truly a testament to what we can accomplish. No matter how devastated our lives may seem, never quit, never accept defeat. You never know who’s watching out for you.