When John McShane thought of pursuing a career in the military, he understood there was potential for danger. But McShane, an Elburn resident, also knew there could be a tremendous reward.
McShane, a sergeant in the U.S. Army, returned home after serving in Kuwait. He embraced the experience and found it something that he would recommend. For McShane, 23, it ultimately is an occupation, an opportunity to learn.
McShane learned useful skills in the Army. He worked as a paralegal, and there is legal work that keeps him busy. He helped soldiers get power of attorney when it was needed, something he says can be a big help.
“It’s a job,” he said. “Granted, it’s a different job. But it’s a job.”
McShane studies automotive technology at Southern Illinois University. While at the Carbondale campus, McShane thought of joining the Army. He knew it could be positive move for him.
“I always wanted to join,” he said. “Somebody’s got to do it, and the benefits were really good when I joined, too.”
He said his education has been paid for, and there are tax breaks as well. He is on course to graduate in December. And, of course, his education has taken longer because of his Army obligations. It is hard work, he said, but he enjoyed it.
The hardest part?
“Leaving your family, your girlfriend,” he said, noting that while people in his life understand that he needs to be gone, “you’re still away.”
“Most of the guys’ problems are at home, not overseas,” he said.
His grandfathers on both sides earned Purple Hearts. One served in World War II, and the other was in World War II and Korea. Although McShane served during a time of conflict, he said he felt safe while serving in Kuwait. He did have to deal with extreme heat. He was busy. But the really scary scene in Kuwait is on the road, he said.
“I always felt safe, besides the crazy drivers,” he said. “They make American drivers look like NASCAR drivers.”
He said his loved ones feared that he might be sent to Afghanistan, and he said it was possible. He said those who join shouldn’t think that they are certain to head into the most dangerous places.
“It might not happen,” he said. “But you should be OK with it. … You should know what you are signing up for.”
McShane grew up in St. Charles, and he ran on the track and cross country teams at St. Charles North. He graduated in 2008. His family moved to Elburn while he was in college.
His time spent at North was good preparation, he said. Being a member of a team is a good bonding exercise, and his cross country team did have success, reaching the IHSA state meet.
McShane said the Army has been good for him, and he would recommend it to those who might be interested.
“I do,” he said. “It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
Kaneland website highlights
Those interested can view video highlights from Kaneland High School’s graduation at www.kaneland.org.
Also on the website is a letter for parents addressing changes to Kaneland School District 302’s bus stop reductions for the upcoming school year. The district plans to “put in place greater efficiencies in our bus stops.” The district will reduce, combine and shift some of the bus stops for middle and high school students.
The revised bus stop information is expected to be available by Aug. 10.
• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.