GI Jon: Guard Soldier’s Journey to Living His Dreams

Ever since he was a child, SPC Jonathan Mullins wanted to be a GI Joe.

“I always wanted to be just like the Soldiers in the movies.”

But sometimes life takes unexpected turns. At 19, SPC Mullins was sitting in a Marine Corps recruitment office, waiting to sign his enlistment papers when he got a call that his wife was expecting their first child.

He put his dream on the back-burner and jumped into his new role as a father, taking care of his wife and first-born daughter.

SPC Jonathan Mullins is an 11B Infantryman in the Virginia Army National Guard.

It wasn’t until the day that SPC Mullins’ fates aligned that he knew where he belonged. He was working in construction and didn’t have health benefits when he fell off a roof at work. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt badly.

The same day, he blew a tire and found himself sitting in the parking lot of a Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention office. Ironically, his wife’s cousin was once a colonel in that office. He took this as a sign that it was time to pursue his dream.  He immediately called the colonel and asked her what he needed to do to enlist.

At that point, SPC Mullins was a 30-year-old homeowner and father of three. Joining the Army National Guard rather than an active duty branch of the armed services would allow him to serve in the military without having to move his family away from home.

“I didn’t want to uproot them because we had everything right here; I didn’t want to take them away from that,” he says.

“The best part about being in the Guard is that you still get to come home.”

Now 32, he’s been able to live out his dream as an 11B Infantryman – but that’s not all he wanted to be. After enlisting, he started applying to law enforcement agencies in the area, landing the other job he’d always wanted:  police officer. For SPC Mullins, having the flexibility to serve part-time and have a civilian career at the same time has been one of the most rewarding benefits of joining the Guard.

There are other perks, too. He’s now able to provide health insurance for him and his family. He’s also using the Guard’s education benefits to work toward a degree in ministry, which will help him when he plans on reclassing as a 56M Chaplain Assistant in the future.

“I’ve worked through the ministry for quite some time, since I was 21,” he says, “and I really feel like that’s where I’m being led.”

SPC Mullins with his wife and three children.

For SPC Mullins, it’s all about making his family proud and being able to do the things he loves. His Guard experience has fulfilled him in ways he never thought possible. He dropped out of high school at a young age, went back to get his GED, and thought he would join the workforce, following wherever the dollar led him.

Now he has a new outlook: “Work hard and don’t give up.”

He reminisces about the strongest piece of advice he’d received from a drill sergeant when things seemed tough in the beginning of his Guard journey:

“If you feel like giving up, you’re only giving 40 percent. You’ve still got 60 percent left to give, so you’ve got to dig deep and give that 60 percent.”

SPC Mullins passes that advice on to others with the hopes of inspiring them to live their truths and pursue their passions.

“If it’s your dream, and it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, pursue it and live that dream.”

If you’re looking for a fulfilling career with benefits like tuition assistance, insurance for you and your family, and the ability to serve part-time in your home State, check out the National Guard job board. With more than 130 careers in fields like aviation, engineering, and transportation, there’s something for everyone in all walks of life. Contact a recruiter today to learn more about how you can join the Army National Guard.

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Like Father, Like Sons: Idaho Guard’s Bundy Brothers Serve Together

FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Idaho Army National Guard Soldiers Second Lieutenant (2LT) Zane Bundy and his big brother, Sergeant (SGT) Nathan Bundy, take after their father, Matt Bundy, in a number of ways.

All three work for the Mountain Home School District. Matt and Nathan both teach at Mountain Home High School, and Zane is a substitute teacher who hopes to have his own classroom someday. In addition, all three either have or are currently serving in the military.

Matt retired from the U.S. Air Force. Nathan and Zane both serve in the Army National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team’s 2nd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, headquartered in Caldwell. For the next couple of weeks, both are attending a training at Fort Irwin, Calif.

“I was raised on the idea of serving my country,” says Nathan, who enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard in 2012 as a 35F Intelligence Analyst.

Nathan is the intelligence section’s senior noncommissioned officer. His team’s job is to help analyze intel Soldiers in the combined arms battalion collect and to help his battalion commander make good decisions on the battlefield.

Idaho Army National Guard 2LT Zane Bundy and SGT Nathan Bundy pose for a selfie while training together at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

Idaho Army National Guard 2LT Zane Bundy and SGT Nathan Bundy pose for a selfie while training together at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif.

It’s a position that’s vastly different than Zane’s job, who leads a platoon in Idaho’s only infantry company from his Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

“Serving together gives us a new dynamic in our relationship,” Nathan says. “It’s a new common ground and a shared experience, but we’re also on different sides of the Guard as an enlisted intel Soldier and an infantry officer.”

Zane joined the Idaho Army National Guard in January 2017, and earned his commission in November 2017.

“I saw how great of an opportunity Nate had to be in the Guard, so I thought I would follow,” says Zane.

At his commissioning ceremony, Nathan was the first to salute his younger brother of four years.

“I was really proud of him when he commissioned,” Nathan recalls.

Zane says he doesn’t get to see much of his brother during unit operations, but that it’s always good to see him when their paths cross. Both agree that serving in the Army National Guard provides them with experiences they don’t get to have in the classroom as teachers.

“I enjoy both jobs,” Nathan boasts. “Being able to serve part-time is a great experience.”

The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is completing a month-long rotation at the National Training Center to build unit readiness and increase Solider proficiency in its wartime missions. The unit will train against a near-peer opposing force provided by the Army’s 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. More than 4,000 Guard Soldiers from more than 30 States are participating in the exercise.

The Army National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home State, so your family is always close by! With positions in more than 130 career fields including armor and field artillery, intelligence, and aviation, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers, and contact a local recruiter to learn more.

From an original article by CPT Robert Taylor, Idaho National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in June 2019.

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Guard Soldier Exhibits Warrior Spirit in Everything She Does

COLUMBUS, Ohio – After her first year of college, Valerie Stearns came to the conclusion that she wanted to do more with her life.

“I realized that I had greater potential,” she says. “That’s when I decided to enlist in the Ohio Army National Guard.”

That was nine years ago.

Now serving as the executive officer of the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1191st Engineer Company, First Lieutenant (1LT) Stearns has deployed to Afghanistan with a military police company, and was one of the first female Soldiers integrated into combat arms roles. She served as the first female platoon leader in the 812th Engineer Company (Sapper) and leads the 1191st Engineer Company’s search and extraction team.

1LT Stearns gets an end-of-the-year hug from her third-grade class at Fostoria Elementary School in Fostoria, Ohio.

1LT Stearns says that one of the most rewarding aspects of serving in those capacities is having a positive impact on others, which shares something in common with the civilian job she’s had for the past two years – teaching third-graders and pre-kindergarten students.

“My favorite part about being a teacher is making an impact on individual lives every day. I love developing exciting lessons that allow students to reach their full potential and providing creative resources for students to learn.”

Though she loves teaching, 1LT Stearns recently stepped away from the classroom for a full-time slot in the Army National Guard.

1LT Stearns has a competitive spirit, which is what drives her to excel in everything she does.

“It’s important to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself in new ways. It’s how you become better.”

It was that love of competition that led her to compete in the Ohio Army National Guard Combatives Tournament – an annual competition that tests Soldiers’ skills and hand-to-hand combat techniques learned through the Modern Army Combatives Program, a core Soldier competency.

1LT Valerie Stearns, executive officer with the Ohio Army National Guard’s 1191st Engineer Company, stands with MG John C. Harris Jr., after she won the lightweight division championship at the 2018 Ohio Army National Guard Combatives Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

She won last year’s lightweight division championship and is looking forward to defending her title in September.

“Competing in the Combatives Tournament is a way to build camaraderie and helps instill the warrior spirit,” she says.

With her dedicated spirit and heart for developing young minds, 1LT Stearns is stepping out of her comfort zone to grow as a Citizen-Soldier® in the Ohio National Guard.

The Army National Guard gives you the flexibility to serve part-time and close to home so you can serve your State and Nation while you pursue a college degree and a civilian career. The Guard offers education assistance and career training in more than 130 fields including infantry, aviation, intelligence, engineering, and more. Check out our job board for more information on all of these careers, and a contact a recruiter today.

From an original article by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard, which appeared in the news section of NationalGuard.mil in May 2019.

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