Sgt. 1st Class Harrison Wright’s decision to enlist in the Oklahoma National Guard as a young man changed his life. Now, as a recruiter and dad, he hopes the Guard will do the same for his 17-year-old daughter, Viayaneh.
“The military has impacted me immensely and my daughter has seen that her whole life growing up in a military family,” Wright said. “As her dad, I’m proud she is following in my footsteps. As her recruiter, the college benefits is one of many reasons why I encouraged her to join the Guard.”
As Wright nears retirement, he reflects on his nearly 20 years in the Guard, which included being a member of the 45th Infantry Division and deployments to Egypt and Baghdad.
“Deploying is never easy. You have to be on all the time,” he said. “It’s the hardest being away from my family. But I know why I have to go.”
Viayaneh appreciates her father’s sacrifices and recognizes the influences he’s had on her, especially on her decision to join the Guard.
“I have a great dad and he is a really good role model,” she said. “I know that the military played a huge part in making him the man he is today.”
Now in her senior year of high school, Viayaneh spent her summer vacation at basic training and graduated on August 9.
“Having her away from home for the first time has been challenging,” Wright said. “But, she’s smart — a straight A student, respectful, patriotic and she’s learning what I already knew about her. She’s a leader.”
Viayaneh embraced basic training, especially the program’s focus on discipline and inclusivity.
“Being here I’ve met so many different types of people. There are people from every walk of life here,” she said. “In basic, you are not an individual. You have to learn to work together as a team.”
As a recruiter, Wright hears considerable misconceptions about the Guard from young people.
“The one that I get the most and that comes to mind now is the thought of ‘signing your life away.’ The National Guard and the military are very similar to civilian work. If you do not show up to work on a regular basis, you get fired,” he said. “A lot of people say they do not want to join because they do not want to be told what to do. News flash young people, any job out there will have someone giving orders. Even if you are an entrepreneur, the customer becomes the person you take orders from.”
He says he’s proud of Viayaneh for looking past these misconceptions of the Guard with her enlistment.
“The military is awesome because it helps prepare you for real life. A lot of the youth today want the easy way to money and success, the fantasy usually seen on TV,” he said.
He urges young people interested in joining the Guard to study hard in school and prepare for the ASVAB. He also encourages them to talk to those who are serving and have served.
“Talk to both people who have been in for a while and also ones that got out quickly. There are people who have had a bad experience and some who have had a great experience,” Wright said. “Don’t just listen to negative talk. And please don’t take advice from someone who has never served. They usually will try and talk you out of it because they never did.”
Wright is proud of his daughter as she makes plans for her future. Viayaneh wants to attend the University of Central Oklahoma after high school, while also specializing in human resources in the Guard. Because of the Guard, she could potentially graduate college without any financial debt.
“I’m proud of her for having the courage to do this — to join the Guard and excel in her training,” Wright said. “She’s everything a father could ever want in a daughter.”Read comments