Voices of Oswego Veterans

Riddle’s Voice

Jennifer Riddle

Photographer: Kristen Manahan & Jessica Rodford

Featuring: Jennifer Riddle

This episode focuses on the emotions of our guest Jennifer Riddle before, during, and after her enlistment.

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About Jennifer Riddle

Jennifer Riddle is a senior attending SUNY Oswego; she will be graduating in Spring 2018. She is majoring in communication and social interaction. She is originally from Long Island, New York. Jennifer Riddle is one of the many student veterans here at SUNY Oswego. Riddle’s veteran ranking was a SFC E-7. She was in the Army for 21 years before she retired; after retiring Riddle immediately went to college to pursue her degree. Jennifer is a strong woman who is sharing her life story with the world through the Voices of Oswego Veterans project.

Transcript

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Alanna: Welcome to the Voices of Oswego Veterans podcast. Today’s episode is called “Riddle’s Voice”. Your hosts are Alanna Colbert

Daniel: and Daniel Rahmanzadeh. Today we will be discussing what happens in the life of a veteran.

Alanna: The whole idea of this talk is so people remember that veterans are human too. Sometimes we forget that people have feelings.

Daniel: That is what we are here to remind you about today; don’t forget about the other people in the world and their stories.

Alanna: We will be focussing on the emotions and thought process of our guest before, during, and after her enlistment.

Daniel: There isn’t a way for us to know what it’s like to be a veteran exactly, unless you are one, but this gives us a deeper understanding of what a veteran might have experienced in their life.

Alanna: Our guest today is Jennifer Riddle (JR). Riddle is a senior attending SUNY Oswego; she will be graduating in Spring 2018. She is from Long Island, New York. She is majoring in communication and social interaction.

Daniel: Riddle’s veteran ranking was a SFC E-7. She was in the army for 21 years before she retired.

Alanna: After retiring, Riddle immediately went to college to pursue her degree in communication. This is her story.

Jennifer: My name is Jennifer Riddle, I am from Long Island, New York and I am doing fine.

Jennifer: Days of service were pretty physically challenging, had to do basic training, and then there was a lot of physical stuff that you had to do [like] running, push-ups, sit-ups, training with weapons, learning how to run march with forty pounds of gear on and it was in South Carolina it was very humid. Key emotions were a little outside because I was older than the other recruits but they came to look up to me at the end.

Jennifer: I volunteered after I got divorced and I also volunteered because my parents were in the Army so I wanted to follow family tradition in the service.

Jennifer: My home life before joining was I was divorced, had no children, and had just got laid off my job so I was unemployed looking for work and it was pretty hard during that time in the 1990’s so I decided to take the AZ Bath Test and join the Army. The AZ Bath Test is a scales test that you take and they compare your score to what jobs you can do in the Army.

Jennifer: I remember my instructors, they were very strict, they were yelling a lot, I had to get used to that but everyone was getting yelled at. The yelling made me feel a little nervous and frustrated because I didn’t think I was doing it right; they did not remind me of anyone in my life.

Jennifer: I got through it by doing just my best and everyone else was trying their best too so I didn’t feel by myself, we were all together there was about 50 of us so I had a lot of company. Something that motivated me was my mother and my father I wanted to be like them in the Army and they were very proud of me.

Jennifer: I handled my stress by just doing a lot of physical activity, sometimes I had to talk about stuff; you had to go to religious services so you speak about some of your stress with the Chaplain.

Jennifer: I was only able to collect my thoughts and breathe on Sundays.

Jennifer: The ways in which I served was from basic training to Korea which was very interesting because in the 1990’s you still had the North Korean threat and today it’s reminding me of back then and I’m thinking about of all my fellow soldiers there now and it’s very stressful in Korea now because war is not good especially on a peninsula like Korea because a lot of people can die because there is a lot of land so you have to go to the bunkers so my thoughts are with the people in the Korean peninsula.

Jennifer: When I came back home I felt good and proud. When we got back from Iraq we had to go through Atlanta and the US sets up these people because you come from though the airport in uniform and your gear on so these people are waiting for you with their families or your friends, and they’re all clapping because they’re relieved to see you and they start crying, then I start crying because I’m missing everybody. With all these new experiences and memories in my head, first it was confusing because I would talk to people but they wouldn’t understand what I was talking about because they were in a different area of life then I had experienced as a combat soldier.

Jennifer: I think I’ve changed as a person by getting better at understanding other people because not everybody is the same and also, I’m more patient with people I used to not be so patient when people wouldn’t get stuff right away but now I understand that not everybody learns the same way.

Jennifer: I didn’t notice any changes within the people while I was gone, home life was basically the same. The experience in my life impacted the people in my life by like I said they were very proud of me that I was able to do all the physical stuff and then I went to school for all technical, communication, satellites, and I was able to do all that so I know something about mechanics and electricity now to power satellites and how radio waves work in space.

Jennifer: I have many friends from Fort Drum and I’ve had friends from my first duty station that I’ve kept in touch with over twenty years. They’re doing fine-retired just like me and going to school.

Jennifer: The last day of my services they had a ceremony and my family was there and we got to take pictures and they were very proud of me. Everybody looked very happy all my friends were there and it was basically a good feeling but kind of sad afterward, because I started a new life and I wasn’t able to see my friends as much or work in the job that I liked. So I had to be a student and I had to learn how to a lot of the student skills like study, take notes, and understand material and still working on that now. I retired in November 2014 and I went back to school in January 2015 so it was only a month and a half off.

Jennifer: My mother didn’t support me before I joined because she was against it because like I said she had experience in the Korean war being a nurse so she saw the good and the bad stuff of the war, the recruiters won’t tell you the bad stuff they will tell you all the benefits so it was good I knew both sides of it to make my own decision of joining.

Jennifer: Overall, I feel Oswego has been a challenge but it’s been good I have a lot of friends now and I’m looking forward to graduating and being an alumni and seeing everyone doing their reunions because that’s going to be the best part.

Daniel: Thank you for listening. We hope that this podcast was insightful and informative in helping you better understand Jennifer Riddle as a person.

Alanna: She is brave, intelligent, hard working, and strong. We thank her so much for fighting for not only our country, but for herself.

Daniel: She has risked everything for people she never even got to meet personally. Riddle is generous and just an overall amazing person.

Alanna: For more information on veterans, explore other episodes in our podcast.