Young paratrooper receives Army Recruiting Ribbon

Inside the Gates
Young paratrooper receives Army Recruiting Ribbon
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 4:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Growing up, Spc. Melanie Grace Rivers had a long list of places she called home during her time as a self-described military brat.

Living on bases in Texas, Virginia, and Colorado — even as far away as Bamberg, Germany — Rivers has called a lot of places home.

Now Rivers is wearing the Army uniform herself after enlisting in the U.S. Army. Rivers arrived on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in March 2023, joining the 11th Airborne Division, as she kicked off the start of her military career with the U.S. Army in Alaska.

However, enlisting was not always in the cards for Rivers.

“When I graduated high school, I thought about, but ... I was kind of opposed to it just because I was like maybe I don’t want that structure in my life, especially so young, I want to be free,” Rivers said. “But then I realized life is hard. Life is hard no matter what.”

In 2021, Rivers decided she need structure in her life, and decided to join the military. The Army, she noted, gave her opportunities to do jobs she was interested in.

Over the span of the next couple of years, Rivers began to work to get herself more active and in a better headspace to join the military.

Finally, at the age of 27, she enlisted.

The Army, Rivers said, provided her with opportunities in life.

“For me, it’s to be able to finish school,” Rivers said. “I have no school debt. And I’m going to be able to continue that, and then pursue my masters.”

Rivers is studying international business and accounting, and said the Army is giving her the building blocks to build a foundation to pursue her dream of creating her own business.

“I want to be able to start building houses, but not sure what type of houses yet and market them,” Rivers said.

Rivers is sharing her stories with potential recruits. The 27-year-old was awarded the Army Recruiting Ribbon, which is used to increase recruiting awareness in the Army and encourage military members to tell their stories to others.

“I went with my recruiter to different high schools and spoke to various people, and I was able to grow the interest for one person to join the Army,” Rivers said.

Rivers was able to recruit a member from San Antonio, Texas.

“I just gave them the perspective from a younger person,” Rivers said. “It gave them reassurance that they weren’t being talked into something because, ‘Oh this person is older.’”

Although Rivers said she is not actively recruiting for now, she is still spreading the word about the possibilities the Army can give people.

“I tell a lot of people — especially since my sister is younger, she has friends — I always tell people it’s good to join,” Rivers said. “It’s a stepping stone for a lot of people who don’t have opportunities.”