U.S. Army Spc. Amanda Wilson didn’t always know what she wanted to do with her life. On her way through high school and to a degree in anthropology from University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, there have always been choices to be made, but they were all part of a bigger plan. After graduating college, a series of jobs led to her joining the Army and although it wasn’t a part of the plan, it ended up working out better than she could have hoped.
“I kept getting short term jobs and I didn’t like working at a car dealership,” she said. “I wanted a change, I didn’t want to wait until the next board convened for officer candidate school and my dad was enlisted, so I figured ‘why not?’”
While she was in college, she switched her major from biological sciences to anthropology to facilitate her desire to travel and not be stuck in an office. Changing her major was just another right choice at the right time.
While in advanced individual training, she was given a chance to go to the U.S. Army Airborne School and not seeing any other volunteers, she took the chance.
“I had never thought about jumping out planes before I signed up for airborne school,” she said. “No one else wanted to do it. I wanted to set myself apart from everyone else.”
“I thought, I’m a strong female, I can do this,” she added.
While many of the other soldiers in her AIT class went to posts across the U.S., going to airborne school led to her assignment with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd ABCT, in Vicenza, Italy.
While it wasn’t part of the plan, she met her now-husband Allen while she was in AIT and when they were both assigned to Vicenza, she knew she was on the right path.
The assignment to Vicenza not only allowed her to be close to Allen and to travel, but as the brigade prepared to deploy to Afghanistan, she found herself with yet another opportunity. This time, it would be volunteering to be a member of the 173rd’s Female Engagement Team.
Since January 2011, Wilson has been training with the FET and now that she is deployed, she is putting her training and her degree to good use.
“It’s been good because I have a degree in anthropology, so I really have a background in this,” she said. “I enjoy going out and being able to talk to Afghan civilians and I like working with infantry and cavalry guys because I know they’ll keep me safe.”
While the 173rd is in Afghanistan Wilson, will continue working with the FET, and while she enjoys what she does, she’s already looking toward the next step of the plan: applying to become an Army physician’s assistant.
“I want to do this program and this is the perfect opportunity, so things are kind of lined up for me,” she said. “So, I’m hoping I have what they’re looking for.”
Wilson’s heart is in medicine and if she doesn’t get accepted this time around, she has plans to be a combat medic. Either way, the Army has given her everything she’s wanted in one way or another: travel, not being in an office and if everything goes according to plan, an Army career in medicine.
“Don’t get me wrong, there have definitely been bumps in the road but that comes with any job,” she said. “I like the benefits of being in the Army and I think its leading me in a good direction.”
Story by Army Sgt. Michael Sword
Combined Joint Task Force 1 – Afghanistan