While other kids were watching Cartoon Network, a young Travis Waller was watching the History channel. That’s partly his inspiration for wanting to join the military, but he also considers his part-time service in the Louisiana Army National Guard’s Infantry a tribute to his ancestors whose lives lacked today’s modern conveniences.
“We drive in our air-conditioned, climate-controlled boxes to work, we sit in our climate-controlled boxes at work, and there’s just nothing challenging,” says 1st Lieutenant (1LT) Waller. “I have this idea that our ancestors were the best of the best because they made it, and they got me here, so I kind of owe it to them to keep myself in the best of the best.”
In other words, he likes a challenge, and while he hasn’t deployed for a combat mission as yet, 1LT Waller is back from a recent weeklong stateside activation, helping to provide traffic control and security in New Orleans after tornadoes hit southeastern Louisiana in early February.
“I’m really thankful that I’m able to help protect and serve our communities,” he says. “It’s something I’m really proud of.”
1LT Waller attended the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) while in college. It is an elective that allows students to earn a commission straight out of college as a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves or Army National Guard.
Despite living in Florida at the time, he joined the Louisiana Guard almost three years ago because the State had an opening for the military occupational specialty (MOS) he wanted – 11A Infantry Officer.
When he’s not serving in his Unit, 1LT Waller works in the private sector as a client support specialist at a company that processes payments to local governments. He’s also pursuing a master’s degree in business management that’s going to cost him roughly $2,500 out-of-pocket, thanks to the Guard’s tuition assistance.
“It’s been a lifesaver,” he says. “It’s crazy that I can get a master’s degree for $2,500.”
With a graduate degree in hand, he plans to help manage the business side of his wife’s photography business and move up the ladder in both of his careers.
“I want to advance myself in my civilian career, get myself into some sort of management position, and then on the military side, I hope it helps me move up the ranks on that end, too.”
As an officer, 1LT Waller enjoys being able to help develop Soldiers.
“I’m planning on staying for as long as they’ll keep me – 20 years or more. It really brings balance to my life.”
It’s also built up his confidence.
“I believe in myself, and I know I’m able to complete whatever task is given to me.”
His advice to anyone considering joining the Guard is “jump all in, be committed to it, and you’ll reap serious benefits from it, not just tangible benefits.”
The intangible benefits include leadership training, which 1LT Waller describes as second to none, plus the camaraderie that develops between Soldiers.
“I’ve been in fraternities, I’ve been in sports teams. Nothing compares to the sense of belonging that you find in the military.”
So, if you’re looking to join this team, one of the choices you’ll make is what career path to pursue. The Guard offers more than 150 choices in fields like artillery, medicine, engineering, and more. For more information, visit our job board and contact your local recruiter for personalized advice.