If it weren’t for his mother, Eric Wilson would have joined the Army right out of high school. Instead, he attended college, graduated two and a half years later with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and finally he got his wish to defend his nation. For Wilson, this was a dream that started with the attack on September 11, 2001. The tragedy of 9/11, he said, “had a big impact on me. It brought up all sorts of patriotic feelings—being smacked in the face by some extremist group.”
Wilson had plenty of opportunities to defend the United States. He went through Special Forces training, which began with 441 soldiers an ended with only 81. Regardless that Wilson played football, ran track, weight lifted and wrestled in high school, he said the Special Forces training was “the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done.”
He went through basic training, airborne school, special operations preparatory course, and Special Forces assessment. At the end of months-long preparation, he was ready to train foreign allied forces in security operations, as well as carry out counter terrorism and humanitarian missions. He also studied Chinese while stationed at Fort Lewis, WA. This resulted in deployments to both Iraq and the southern part of the Philippines, where, he said, “the Muslim extremists had control.” That summer of 2009, while he was in the Philippines, he lost two comrades who were doing missions with the Philippine Marines.
The toughness that Wilson built up through the Army has come in handy during his studies in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program at Jefferson College. He began the program after completing prerequisites through a community college, then, on the word of a friend and former Army medic, Cornelius Powell, ‘11, he looked into JCHS.
“He said it was a very military-friendly school,” said Wilson. “The mental toughness you have to have in Special Forces carries through to all kinds of stress. This is a new kind of stress, and a new level of thinking,” said Wilson of the accelerated program. But, he said, knowing that he’s been through worse and survived, he is confident he can do this, too, with a projected graduation date of December 2014.
Never one shy from a challenge, Wilson is considering Emergency Department Nursing, where, he said, “There’s variety throughout the day.”
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