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Why I Serve - Army 1st Lt. William Milzarski
by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bernhard Lashleyleidner - March 29, 2014

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U.S. Army Brigade logistics officer 1st Lt. William Milzarski, stands in front of the Big Red One sign located at the 1st ABCT on March 13, 2014 at Fort Riley. Milzarski, a fifth-generation service member, is sharing his love of patriotism with his two sons and his daughter, who is the very first female in their family to serve in the armed forces. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bernhard Lashleyleidner)FORT 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.

After 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.

“I 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,” Milzarski said.

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 together.

“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.

“If it wasn't for my previous enlisted time, I do not think I would have been allowed to continue my career,” Milzarski said.

His 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
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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