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Celebrating our veterans
Military men and women always come prepared. 1st Sgt. Brian Edwards is no exception. When he joined the CMS Insider for a Zoom interview about Veterans Day, he wore his uniform.

“Once an Army man, always an Army man,” said Edwards.

Edwards is one of the many veterans who are also CMS employees.

Edwards served in the Army for 22 years. He started out working in small arms repair. He served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield, then moved to recruitment.

He knew in high school that he wanted to serve in the military. Recruiters visited his school. "It was a great opportunity to earn a good salary and have my education paid for," he said. "There was also an opportunity to earn a skill."

He served in New Jersey, Oklahoma, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Germany. He was then stationed in North Carolina for the balance of his military career. Today, he is a JROTC instructor at Mallard Creek High. He's been with CMS for 11 years.

Transitioning from the military to education was a natural fit after his time in recruitment. "I knew what we could do in the life of a young person," he said. "I gravitated toward that environment, so it was a smooth transition."

Edwards encourages students who are looking for access to opportunities and education to consider a military career. "It is a sacrifice for sure," he said. "But many of the benefits can outweigh that sacrifice."

In a year where everyone has sacrificed so much because of COVID-19, Edwards and other veterans can relate. "Some people go months or even years without being able to see their families," he said. "I have been through it before, but it still doesn't make it any easier."

Edwards does feel like the sacrifices he made for the Army were worth it. "Our democracy is really important," he said. "With our recent election, I feel more emboldened than ever to support and defend our democracy. I think making the sacrifice is important. I want our democracy to remain free. I am proud when I see young people take the oath and say they want to support and defend the Constitution."

As the country prepares to honor veterans on Nov. 11, Edwards said that all Americans have freedoms that are often overlooked. "The fact that you have the opportunity to choose between Pepsi and Coke, Bojangles or Kentucky Fried Chicken, these are examples of basic freedoms that we take for granted."

While Veterans Day will be different this year, Edwards encourages everyone to find a way to thank a veteran. "If you see a service man or woman, don't shake their hand," he said. "We are still in a pandemic. But tip your hat to them. Say thank you. They go out each and every day and put their lives on the line for the greater good. The fact that we can all enjoy these freedoms exemplifies what Veterans Day is all about."

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