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NEWS | Feb. 3, 2015

From student to Soldier: 311st Trans. Co. Soldier discovers two sides of Eustis

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Annually, more than 5,800 U.S. Army Soldiers come through Fort Eustis, Virginia to attend Advanced Individual Training to learn the basics of helicopter and boat maintenance.

Most students graduate and move on to installations across the globe but for some, Fort Eustis will remain their home.

Pvt. Jeffery Kemp, 331st Transportation Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) watercraft engineer, began his new career at Fort Eustis as a student with the U.S. Army Transportation School.

Kemp adjusted quickly after basic military training to the continuous schedule of school, formation, preparing his room for inspections and studying.

"[AIT] was a consistent schedule with strict, but necessary, rules," said Kemp. "We were only allowed to go off post on the weekends because our main priority was training."

Like every future permanent-party Soldier nearing their graduation date, Kemp received his official orders. To his surprise, he discovered he would be staying at Fort Eustis.

"[When I found out about my orders,] I was excited to stay because I've met some really cool people that live in the area," said Kemp. "Plus, it's close to my hometown in Kentucky, so my family doesn't have to travel very far to visit me."

Kemp discovered that while he stayed at the same base, things were not the same.
After arriving at the 331st Trans. Co., Kemp soon realized things ran differently. According to Kemp, there were already high expectations of him within his workcenter.

"Once you get to your first unit, they know you're a Soldier and they want you to be responsible enough to do what is expected of you," said Kemp. "Once you're done with your work, your free time is your own to do what you want."

Kemp said, for him, there was a big adjustment period where he had to get used to the new freedom within his unit and personal life. He said he knew his mindset needed altering from student to work-force Soldier. He now has plans to explore the installation and local area and find new things to try during his free time.

"It felt weird at first. I got a chance to explore the local area a little on the weekends in AIT, but never explore the base," said Kemp. "Now I've gotten to take a look around and there's a lot of really cool stuff here."

Now that Kemp works on the installation, he said he spends time with friends off-base and working on his car while balancing his career and learning more about his job and what it means to be a Soldier.

"I'm always going to be learning throughout my career in the Army," said Kemp. "I'm finding a balance now between learning my job and learning the Army. I'm really excited for what the future may hold for me in the Army and at Fort Eustis."