I enlisted at the age of 19 with a year of college under my belt and was guaranteed my first promotion upon completion of basic training. I was up at 4:45 a.m. every morning. Each day was like the one before: getting yelled at, moving quickly, running, eating, going to class, shining boots and brass, and ironing uniforms. I crawled through mud, jumped in the deep end of a swimming pool with full gear on, and enjoyed snot running out of my nose after walking through the gas chamber. I fired an M16A1 rifle and threw a live hand grenade.