Maureen Magnifico shared her story of serving in the U.S. Army.
Magnifico left for the army in July 2001, where she trained to be a cable system installer/maintainer in camps Fort Jackson in South Carolina and Fort Gordon in Georgia.
“I was kind of like AT&T for the army, so I ran the phone lines and fixed phone lines, mainly in the field and at war,” said Magnifico.
Magnifico’s reason for joining is a little bit different from others, seeing as she was almost not accepted in the first place because they were afraid of how she would act if she didn’t take her medicine.
“I was trying to go into law enforcement, I wanted to be in the FBI. I was academically suspended, with a 1.25 GPA. I have ADHD, and I was diagnosed when I was young. They had put me on Ritalin for like a week, and it almost kept me out the military. All I had to do was keep giving them paperwork and going to things, and it took me like a month to get in,” said Magnifico.
She was in the army until July 2005, and spent time in Germany, Iraq, and Korea. Although she had a support role, she would always volunteer to go on missions.
“We were out there attached to a combat unit when we were in Iraq, and I was actually very fortunate that I didn’t have to be on the front lines, but we were mortared almost every night…I did get to leave the base on three separate occasions. Even though they had people that were going out on convoys all the time, they only took the men. I would volunteer every time, but they told me I was a woman so I couldn’t go,” said Magnifico.
She was, however, allowed to go on vehicle cleaning missions (she even notes the irony of this). These were never usually dangerous, but there was one time where the team heard gunshots, later finding out it was apart of a wedding celebration.
Interestingly, she describes her service as almost like a job. They were on duty for a certain amount of time, and sometimes even had weekends off. The soldiers found ways to entertain themselves, including playing cards and even shopping at the country they were stationed at.
The natives in areas where they were stationed at usually liked them, but there was one altercation when two of their officers ran over two fourteen year-old girls late at night.
“When I was in Korea we had an issue that took place. It was 2003 I believe, and a couple of guys were going out to the field in the track vehicles, and they wound up running over two fourteen year-old girls…and it turned out to be a big problem,” said Magnifico.
When she came back home, Magnifico used her newfound discipline to finish school and get multiple degrees. She jumped from job to job, finally settling on one in the juvenile correctional field. She had also gone to school to find out a way to help veterans.
“While I was still in my undergrad, I went to personal training school. My whole point in going to personal training school was because I was going to pair up personal training and social work, so that people knew that they kind of worked together. When I decided not to do that, I changed my mind and went to Governors State. I went for public administration, so that I can help write the policies that will help the veterans,” said Magnifico.