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Erik Berling

Air National Guard son

Nov. 6, 2012 - 01:33PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 6, 2012 - 01:33PM  |  
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My father has been in the Air National Guard for almost 25 years. He has been overseas many times, to locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Diego Garcia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and many others.

Every time he had to go, it made me a stronger man. Being an only child, it was only my mother and I in the house. This automatically made me "the man of the house." I always comforted my mother, took care of my pets, and always made sure the house was running smoothly. This was a big responsibility for a child only in grade school.

Sometimes it would be tough with my dad not being home, but we kept going. The most recent trip my dad made to Afghanistan was the hardest. With him missing Christmas, New Year's and my first band concert, it shook me up inside. I fell into depression within those 3½ months. With the help of God, friends and family, I was able to beat depression.

At first, I did not understand why my dad had to leave months at a time to go to some country I had no interest in at all. I realized that my dad took an oath to serve and protect our nation. Seeing his sacrifice and service made me realize that as an American citizen, it is our civic duty to serve and support our country through the good and the bad.

The military has not only made my father the man he is today, but in a way, it has also made me the man I am today. I respect everyone, take pride in my work and country, and lend a helping hand to anyone who needs one.

My big goal is to be a youth evangelist, starting in the United States. Throughout my life, I have experienced many painful and terrible things. I feel compelled to share my story with the entire world to help save teenagers who are going through the same things I went through. Because of the military, I am a stronger and independent young man who plans on continuing his education, career and life goals.

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