Alicia served for 6 years in the Iowa Army National Guard as a Public Affairs Specialist. She deployed to Kosovo for a year and traveled to other countries for small exercises for brief periods. And she spent 10 years a print journalist, 6 of those with the Army. On top of that, she is a fiction writer with her debut novel, Squared Away released on July 2, 2019. It is the first novel in series.
She joined the military 2 days after her 17th birthday in June of 2001. The summer between her junior and senior year of high school. She was looking for a way to pay for college and joining the Army seemed like the perfect fit. It would also give her needed experience in journalism that would help her in the future when she wanted to work as a journalist.
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Because she was still in high school, she didn’t leave for boot camp until after she graduated. In that year she was “trained” for boot camp by some young enlisted troops that helped to prepare her for boot camp by pretending to be drill sergeants. Because she had such a long period of time not going to boot camp, she was ready for the boot camp phase and realized how much she still didn’t know even though she had been attending her drill weekends. It made her appreciate boot camp and all that she learned from it.
During her time in the Army she worked to share stories of what the Army National Guard was doing. She got to meet a lot of different people of all different ranks as she covered stories. She also deployed to Kosovo. Which took her from doing her job on drill weekends to a daily mission of sharing the stories of the Army. She was helping manage the print magazine for the Army in an editor role that most young people do not have the opportunity to do. Being a journalist in the Army gave her so many unique experiences in her job.
She really struggled when she came from her year in Kosovo. She got to do an amazing job and felt like she was making an impact and when she came home, she went back to being a college student and doing her one weekend a month duty. It wasn’t the same impact and really changed how she looked at things.
When her six-year enlistment was up she had the opportunity to be promoted to Sergeant, but she made a pro and con list to help her decide if she should continue to serve in the military or leave the military behind. She wanted to test her skills as a journalist as a civilian and made the choice to leave the military behind. But it wasn’t easy. Her time in the military had changed her and the people she worked with had become like her second family. And leaving the military meant she was giving away a part of herself.
She released her first novel Squared Away in July. It is a fictional novel based on two battle buddies. She brings in her military experience, but also uses the fictional space to tell the story to add twists and turns along the way. You can get your copy here.
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