Benjamin’s Story

Dear RJT Criminal Defense Partners and readers alike,

First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to review the admissions made by our service men and women, and myself for the scholarship award that has been generously offered to those who have made that sacrifice.

I am writing to request your consideration for candidacy for the award offered. I understand that the award will be granted to those who are most qualified and deserving. I would like to tell a little about myself so that proper weight can be placed upon my consideration.

At 24 years of age, I remember the day I got the pamphlet in my mailbox for the Army National Guard as fresh as ever. I had recently dropped out of highschool and obtained my G.E.D. I had no idea where my life was headed, and my options appeared to be bleak. With nothing to lose, I enlisted and went to basic training in February 2009, and graduated in July 2009. While my peers were walking across their high school graduation stage, I had accomplished something superbly more significant; I became a soldier. However, as with all great things it came at the cost of sacrifice, resulting in my current diagnosis of P.T.S.D.

This title of soldier is a unique burden, especially for myself. As I tell others, my previous lifestyle was unruly and I would likely be dead or in jail– in the absence of some other intervention– had it not been for the military instilling the qualities of leadership (L.D.R.S.H.I.P.): loyalty, duty, respect, selflessness, honor, integrity, and personal courage. However, I call it a unique burden because it is a sense of self that fellow veterans and I carry, a challenge to be the best we can be. For me, that means a lot of things. For example, today, as I continue my education I challenge myself to excel and make sure my peers excel. It is my sense of duty that drives my studies. This sense of duty has led me to my current degree, Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies, so that I may begin my journey giving back to the community and help those who may be in their darkest hours, and who need someone they can rely on to protect them and enforce their rights. I see my education coming to an end when I attain my J.D. and can practice as an attorney, and serve my community once more by representing indigent clients as a public defender, as well as those who wish to immigrate to our country and live the American dream.

But not for my experience in the military, there is no doubt that my aspirations would be self serving, easily attainable achievements that overlook the inequities of our society. Again, but not for my service in the military, disparate livelihood and inequitable conditions would not expend my mental utility. Rather, it was seeing the community of Iraqis living in miserably meager conditions, children with empty water bottles begging for water, and even the Iraqi Army servicemen manning the checkpoints were without any provisions of necessity. That is a world I want to fight against, because I believe the power of the human spirit can overcome the most difficult of circumstances, but not without some support. Again, without the support of our military, I too would be living in miserably meager conditions, I am proof of what life can flourish when properly supported. Even though I enlisted believing I had nothing to lose, I never realized all that I would gain through my service.

It is for the aforementioned reasons why I have since dedicated my education, and soon career to supporting those who are in need. “Gods work” may be one way of putting it, as it is all seemingly impossible and infinitely honorable, but thanks to the military and the sense of duty I have carried from it, I am crazy enough believe in achieving the seemingly impossible, and that is what I will set out to do.

I am motivated not only to promote wellness and prosperity, but also to prevent the atrocities of war from occurring. The trauma I had endured is marginal in comparison to those who have sacrificed more, or those who live in the regions torn by war and brutality. Yet, it is still a mental burden that I would wish on nobody, resulting in a suicidal cynicism for a short time my first year back in a country so prosperous that people have to freeze water into little cubes and put it into their water just to enjoy it– a small sample of this cynicism. I could not imagine what catastrophe our fellow citizens would fall under if our country came under substantial threat. We have our safety and security knowing that rough and rugged men and women are willing to do our bidding for us. I rather not subject men and women to any such circumstance. Analogous to a child with chickenpox who is itching for relief, I liken our country and citizens at times of danger striking fear; except when America itches– or engages in combat– it historically causes more harm. This is ultimately my greatest ambition, as I recognized through my service, and the aftermath where I struggled with P.T.S.D. that it is the power of the pen, not the sword, that is almighty. As I enter my professional career as an attorney, I will be a voice that represents those who see combat engagements as callous and reckless solutions, as non-solutions. Albeit, the impact of an individual may never extend very far, I know that my mind will not allow me to rest easy if I do not make every effort to stem the tides of war and conflict.

Once more, thank you so much for taking the time to review the scholarship requests sent by others and myself. I am sure it will be difficult to choose, but I know that whoever receives it will be someone with a propensity for social wellness and prosperity, and for that I am grateful.