RILEY, Kan. - Devil Brigade assistant logistics officer 1st. Lt.
William Milzarski's, with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st
Infantry Division, who is a native of Cedar Springs, Mich., life of
service began many years ago as a military brat.
He grew up
in a household where military service was viewed as badge of honor
and rite of passage for all the males in the family, which began
with his great-great-grand-father who was a sergeant major during
the Battle of Gettysburg, and continuing on to his father and uncles
in the family, who served during World War II, the Korean War and
the Vietnam War.
The day was Aug. 1, 1990, the day before the
Iraqi army invaded the country of Kuwait, Milzarski, joined the Army
and shipped out to Fort Bliss for initial entry and a military
service journey. He would later go to Fort Leonard Wood for advance
individual training to become a construction engineer.
serving four years on active duty, he got out of the military with a
strong desire to help fellow veterans, so he enrolled in Grand
Rapids Community College to continue his education, and earn a
Bachelor of Science in social work at Grand Valley State University.
After completing his Juris Doctorate in 2002 at Thomas Cooley
Law School, Lansing, Mich., he passed the Michigan State Bar and
became a licensed attorney and disability rights advocate, where he
was able to assist veterans and civilians with disabilities from
being discriminated against in the work place.
He worked as
legal expert in disabilities with Disability Advocates, Grand
Rapids, Mich., for several years before moving on to become a civil
rights attorney in Lansing, Mich., where he worked more than six
years and became a regionally and nationally known expert in
veterans and kids with disabilities.
“When a parent of a
child that has just passed away comes up to you and thanks you for
all that you have done for that child and giving them hope, it's at
that moment you know that what you do really makes a difference in
the lives of others,” Milzarski said.
"After Sept. 11, my two
sons and my daughter, the very first female in our family to serve
in the military, all enlisted in the Army," Milzarski said.
have always told my children that it is nothing more fulfilling in
life then serving your country and felt honored that they wanted to
continue our long family tradition of serving in the military,”
After watching his children's career flourish
in the military, he thought about the time he spent in the military,
and how he could support their careers, then he realized how great
it would be if they were all in the military serving the nation
“When my dad told everyone that he was returning to
the military to continue his career as an officer, we were all
shocked and taken back a little,” Sgt. Andrew Milzarski, multiple
launch rocket systems operator with 5th Battalion, 3rd Field
Artillery, 17th Artillery Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said.
At age 40, he walked away from a prosperous career in the legal
field helping disabled veterans to resume his military career by
entering OCS, which made Milzarski one of the oldest Infantry
officers to complete the program at Fort Benning, Ga.
wasn't for my previous enlisted time, I do not think I would have
been allowed to continue my career,” Milzarski said.
journey back to active duty military service was a very long and
difficult one, but he refused to be turned away and stayed on the
recruiters to approve his packet for Officer Candidate School.
“I am very proud of my dad and admire him for all the good stuff
he has done to help others and hope to follow in his footsteps in
becoming a commissioned officer, and make an impact in the lives of
my fellow soldiers,” Andrew Milzarski said. “My dad is an
outstanding role model, and I know he will continue helping others."
As a platoon leader in a forward position, he led a platoon of
24 soldiers through more than 244 combat mission and 43 engagements
with the enemy.
“I have always lived by one code and told my
kids to always do the right thing, help others and nothing in life
comes easy,” Milzarski said.
Article and photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bernhard Lashleyleidner
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