By Crystal Allen
Leader’s Training Course
Jasen Baker was taken aback when he first stepped off a plane May 20 in Israel.
Although Israel is a Westernized country, it looked much different than what he was used to in the United States. The architecture was much older, and it was populated by cities within the mountains.
Baker, a Delta Company Cadet and junior at the University of Florida, received the trip to Israel free through his university’s temple because of his Jewish heritage. The trip consisted of 10 days, and each of the 40 students who made the trek had the ability to extend the trip.
Baker stayed an extra week with a few of his friends. Within the 17 days, Baker traveled throughout Israel.
Little did he know that what he learned in Israel would help him when he arrived at the Leader’s Training Course. For five days, a group of 10 Israeli soldiers traveled with the students, teaching them more about Israeli life and military.
“You can relate to them, their your age,” Baker said. “Most people at that age do not have military experience and in Israel it’s mandatory, so they want you to experience that from a different perspective not just from seeing it as a tour.”
Because Israel is defending itself from all sides of the country and the population is too small to rely on volunteers, it’s mandatory for each Israeli citizen to serve in the military once he or she turns 18. Women have to serve at least two years, and the men three.
“We have the choice to join the military, they don’t,” Baker said. “I’m thankful for the choice that I have.”
The soldiers walk around with weapons and are practically fighting in their own back yards, something Americans don’t have to experience.
“From my perspective, I think they have a really strong Army and the way they do it is different,” Baker said. “They are really fighting to survive like they’re fighting on their home.”
Baker is the first in his family to join the military and the lessons he learned in Israel are a key element to his LTC success. He learned to live with basic necessities, like he has at LTC. He only got to shower on occasion, he slept in tents and rooms without air conditioning and was never asleep past 7 am.
“I got used to it pretty fast,” he said.
The Israeli soldiers advised Baker to listen to leadership, stick it out and always follow orders. One bit of advice that stuck with him was, “Make sure that you really want it, you’ve got to follow it all the way through.”
“It just makes me more proud to serve in the military,” Baker said. “It just reinforced that that’s what I want to do.”
While at LTC, Baker is growing into a future leader and Soldier in the Army.
“It’s going to help each one of them grow, including Baker, to go on and be successful,” said 2nd Lt. Tavatha Trice, a Delta Company squad tactical officer.
Once in the Army, Baker not only wants to protect his country but also keep traveling.
“I want to go somewhere, see something different,” he said. “I think I have a pretty good life. I want to see the other side of things.”
Baker describes himself as determined to do so.
“To get where I want to get in life, I have to do certain things and if I really want to accomplish my goals, my long-term goals, I have to do the little things step-by-step,” he said. “If I know I have to do something, I want to do it; I’m going to do it.”