As a budding college graduate in the Spring of 2010 I had one goal in mind, to join the US Military and serve my country for 20 years. After being accepted by the Army Officer Candidate program, I flew down to Ft. Benning, GA for three months of basic training followed by six more months of Officer Candidate School to earn commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. My dream was to be an infantry officer and serve on the front lines. After graduating Basic Training, I watched my dream die in one fell swoop. During a 5 mile run my knee locked up, I fell and tore my MCL.

The next few weeks were a whirlwind; one second I’m on my way to earning my commission and taking the next step toward my 20-year career, the next I’m chaptered out of the Army and flying home with my head in my hands. All my hard work seemed to be for nothing. I had to explain to friends and family, many of whom had thrown me a huge going away party just 6 months prior, that I was back, and I was back for good. I was embarrassed, I had no goals, and I was depressed. Without my wife and her love, I may have spiraled down into an unascendable pit. Luckily she lent me enough strength to help me find new goals (i.e. VetMed). However, the pain of the failure was still strong. I couldn’t read war novels; I couldn’t watch powerful movies involving soldiers; courageous stories I loved now put a bitter taste in my mouth.

Flash-forward to June (2017), I attended the Veterinary Leadership Experience. My group-mates and the facilitators at VLE shared their stories of resiliency. They lent me their strength to finally be able to talk about my failure, about my regrets, about watching my dream die…Talking about something gives you strength over the embarrassment; announcing it to a group gives you power over it completely and allows you to move on, and now this post will finalize my life rising out of the ashes of that shattered dream. Without my wife, my friends, and the amazing people at VLE, I may still shudder when I think of my past. Now I stand proud about my future; resilient.

Who in your life gives you strength to be resilient? How do you move on from the inevitable failures in our profession and use them to fuel your fire? Your experiences may help others, like me, move on from their hardships so we’d love to hear your thoughts! #resiliency #poweroverfailure #risefromtheashes #VLEalum

Judson Smith

About Judson Smith

Judson is in his second year at the University of Illinois CVM. He is a 2017 VLE alum. Originally from Boston, MA he now lives in Central Illinois with his wife and four pets. Prior to attending VetMed, he attended U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, and then worked in Private Equity Consulting before entering veterinary medicine. Judson looks forward to making a career in small animal medicine back on the East Coast after graduation. Judson is in his second year at the University of Illinois CVM. He is a 2017 VLE alum. Originally from Boston, MA he now lives in Central Illinois with his wife and four pets. Prior to attending VetMed, he attended U.S. Army Officer Candidate School, and then worked in Private Equity Consulting before entering veterinary medicine. Judson looks forward to making a career in small animal medicine back on the East Coast after graduation.

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