My first interview for this project was with Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Larry Ross. Dr. Ross started his military career and served six years in the Army, two on active duty, and another four years in the reserves. Later, Dr. Ross decided to continue his service in the Air Force where he served another 14 years in the reserves. Dr. Ross worked in the medical unit of the military as a dentist. A New York native, a 20-year career in the military allowed Dr. Ross to travel around the country, an opportunity he may not have had if he didn’t join the military. Dr. Ross has fond memories of one particular place where he traveled during his service, which is the state of Florida.
During his service, Dr. Ross was able to work with many other medical professionals. Some only served for two years, however, Dr. Ross shared with me the reason why he stayed for 20 years. According to doctor Ross, “There’s something special about putting on that uniform each morning.” He also said, “If you’re a doctor in the military, especially in the reserves, you feel like you’re really a doctor; and the military part is just extra.” Dr. Ross explained that he liked this feeling, and felt like he was doing his duty in the same way as everyone else was. Unlike other professionals in the military, Dr. Ross was not required to complete basic training, however, after he was commissioned, people in a similar position to him had to participate in basic training.
Before joining the military Dr. Ross had already completed medical school and did not require any additional dentistry training. In fact, as soon as he walked into the Army facility, he immediately began seeing patients. When I asked what advice he would give to a young person considering joining the military, he said, “I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in enlisting, even if just for two years, and I would help them talk to the right recruiters to assist them in their process to join the military.”
After retiring from the military, Dr. Ross wanted to join a local American Legion post. However, there were no American Legion groups in the town in which he lives. He began to search for posts in surrounding communities and ultimately decided to join the American Legion post in Ridgefield. He chose Ridgefield over the others because of both the charm and history of the building. In the future, Dr. Ross hopes to be able to become more involved in the various activities the American Legion has to offer.
At the end of our conversation, Dr. Ross and I spoke about what ways young people can help Veterans in their community, in which he mentioned that there are a lot of different organizations dedicated to Veterans. Kids and young adults could take it upon themselves to become familiar with organizations in their community, and even said it might be a good way to find out if the military is the right choice for you.
One final topic brought up in our meeting was the word comradery, “the fun you have with your buddies and people you work with.” He explained that having people to rely on always is very important, especially if you make some lifetime friends along the way.