By the time I entered basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., I had graduated college, done some graduate school work and even had a first job.
My insight came not at the time but some time later, and it was the variety of men with whom I interacted. Due to our different stations in life, many of us may never have met one another in civilian life before service, but I found myself depending on them and vice versa. I learned to trust others in difficult circumstances and to have them trust that I would support them. Learning that this bond exists is a powerful lesson.
I also learned to do things that I would never have imagined myself doing, such as using a weapon, long marches in hot weather and so on. Our drill sergeants generally did a good job of leading us and "motivating" us when we didn't follow their lead quickly enough.
Through it all, I came away with a profound respect for my fellow servicemembers and for their service to our country.