‘Don’t let the thought of being too old stop you’
High school teacher begins National Guard career at 35
Story by Stephanie Beougher, Ohio National Guard Public Affairs
Avon Lake, Ohio (02/08/19)
When Ohio Army National Guard Spc. Adam Slabodnick reported for his first day of basic training last summer, he was nearly twice the age of most of the new recruits. “Going through basic as a 35-year-old was definitely an experience like none other. I was the oldest person in my platoon and second oldest in my company by a few months,” Slabodnick said.
Older than most new Citizen-Soldiers, Slabodnick’s path to serving in the Ohio National Guard came when a recruiter visited Avon Lake High School in Avon Lake, Ohio, where he’s a health and physical education teacher, as well as the tennis coach at the school in his home county of Lorain.
“Sgt. Dan Smith came to my school to recruit, and asked if he could come into my weight lifting class,” Slabodnick said. “During his presentation about all the great things the Ohio National Guard could provide, I think I ended up asking more questions than my students.”
Smith, of the Ohio Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, remembers the many conversations he had with Slabodnick.
“What impressed me most about Spc. Slabodnick and his motivation to join was, despite being older than most of the future Soldiers I deal with, he was very open-minded to what the training path would be and what he would have to do to be successful,” Smith said. “He never complained and was always punctual when meeting or getting me the required documentation.”
One of the benefits that caught Slabodnick’s attention was college tuition reimbursement that would come in handy to pay off debt after earning two undergraduate degrees and a master’s degree. He’s also always wanted to join the military but instead went to college, became a teacher and coach, and started a family.
His wife Kellie has been a strong supporter of his decision to enlist, even though it meant being separated for about four months while he was away at basic training and then advanced individual training.
“I definitely would not have been able to do this process without her blessing. I know at times the process was difficult on her being a single parent of three children, but this journey has made her stronger too. I am very fortunate to be married to such a great person,” he said.
Slabodnick has also gotten a lot of support from his school administrators, coworkers and students during his time away from the classroom.
He’ll bring 10 years of diverse experience and skills as an educator to the 1485th Transportation Company in Dover, Ohio, where he’ll be a motor transport operator.
“One of the things I love about the National Guard is the diversity that the Soldiers bring from their civilian jobs and lives. With his master’s degree in administration and a teaching degree, Slabodnick brings multiple skills to the table including leadership,” Smith said.
For anyone his age who may be thinking about joining the National Guard, Slabodnick suggests don’t let thinking you’re “too old” stop you, because, “the Army National Guard does a great job of keeping your body healthy. I’ve never felt better, and I would never had the opportunities to experience the things I did, establish relationships with the people I did, or grow as an individual without the National Guard.”
Slabodnick said he’s looking forward to his Ohio Army National Guard career to better himself as a father, husband, teacher and a leader.