Wilmington resident Bret Van Sickle is currently doing something he’s wanted to do for many years.
You’re never too old to live out your dreams. Wilmington resident Bret Van Sickle is currently doing something he’s wanted to do for many years.
This spring the automotive technician surprised his colleagues and friends when he told them he was heading to the Army for basic training. Van Sickle wanted to join the Armed Forces as a teenager, but family came first. “I have two children. Andrew, he’s 13 and Evan he’s 6 years old. My 13-year-old was the reason I couldn’t do it earlier in life. I didn’t want leave him at a young age.”
Now that his sons are little older, Bret thought the time was right.
Bret is now a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and completing basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina. It was the flexibility of the Guard that made him choose that branch of the service.
“There are about 1600 members of the Delaware National Guard. Probably about a third of us are full time. The other two-thirds serve typically a weekend and two weeks throughout the year, to be ready to do their military job in support of the state and the nation,” says Sgt. Passwaters, the recruiting and retention officer that helped enlist Bret.
Passwaters says he sees more people joining the Guard at an older age. “We’re getting a lot of people who are joining later in life because of some of the benefits that we have.” Those benefits include free tuition at state universities and colleges and up to $50,000 tuition reimbursement for those who meet certain criteria. He also adds that older recruits have a lot of professional and life experience to offer the military.
Molly says the transition has been difficult but she’s gotten lots of help. “Every unit has a family readiness group and there’s also a state level [liaison] and I’ve gotten several emails from him.” It’s also been helpful having someone to lean on who has had similar experiences. “We are very close with another military family and they have been a savior to me. [The wife] has been great, really helpful. She went through the same thing when her husband was deployed,” Molly said.
Molly and the boys are looking forward to seeing Private Van Sickle at his upcoming graduation from boot camp in June. In the meantime, they’ll continue to count the days until their family is reunited again.