By Derrick Crawford
5th Medical Recruiting Battalion
September 12, 2017
SAN ANTONIO - For Army 2nd Lt. Ashley Carrillo, being commissioned as a licensed clinical social worker is more than the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to serve her country. It is about joining a family of service.
Carrillo's grandfather, retired Navy Cmdr. John Hill, 80, commissioned her into the Army Medical Service Corps during a ceremony July 28 at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.
"It is an honor and just a real blessing," said Hill, who was wearing the same uniform he last wore on active duty in 1980. "Not too many grandfathers get to swear-in one of their grandchildren."
In addition to her grandfather, other family members have answered the call to service, with her father having served an enlistment in the Marines, and a cousin currently enlisted in the Air Force.
"There really aren't words to describe (what I felt) being able to repeat after him that oath that we take as Soldiers," Carrillo said. "It was definitely a moment that myself, him and my family will definitely cherish."
A native of Paris, Texas, Hill served a total of 33 years, including time in both active-duty and Reserve components of the U.S. Navy. Carrillo fondly recalls childhood memories of wearing her grandfather's officer's cap and intently listening to his accounts of life at sea. Through him, she said she began painting a picture of her future.
"I have always been proud of his service and the accomplishments he's had in the military," she said. "I think a lot of the traits that I see in him, as far as being meticulous, dedicated and committed, disciplined, and respectful, are a lot of qualities I really look up to ... So, I thought it would be an honor to serve like my grandfather and have those experiences the military can provide."
Like many people sparked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks to join the military, Carrillo, who was 12 years old at the time, also cites it as a seminal moment in her young life. That sense of service has buoyed her pursuit of an appointment in the Army Medical Service Corps, a journey that includes two previous unsuccessful attempts.
"I knew it was a competitive program, and I knew I might not make it the first time," said Carrillo, who holds a bachelor's and a master's degree in psychology from Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri, and a master's in Criminal Justice from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
"There were times when it was frustrating, and I really started to doubt if I was going to get in," she said. "I thought, 'Maybe the military didn't see me as a good fit.' So, I started to question myself."
Those questions always led back to the Army, despite her fulfillment with the work and community service she does now as a conservatorship or legal worker with Child Protective Services in the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.
"(The military) is the way I want to serve,'" Carrillo said. "I really want this. I really don't see myself doing anything else, and I have always just felt that I am supposed to be a Soldier."
She points to the self-assurance and diligence of her recruiter, Sgt. 1st Class Chad McLaughlin of the San Antonio Medical Recruiting Center, 5th Army Medical Recruiting Battalion, as a sign that things could be different the third time around.
"(McLaughlin) has been amazing," Carrillo said. "He said 'look, let me look over your packet. Let me see what can be better. Give me one chance, and I will help you get there.'"
Carrillo is now preparing to attend both a Direct Commissioning Course and Basic Officer Leadership Course. She said she looks forward to beginning her career in Army social work, a field she believes puts her in the best position to help military members and their families.
Hill said he's proud of his granddaughter's accomplishments and her persistence to pursue her goals no matter how difficult.
"I hope she has the same experiences that I had," he said."She's proud to serve her country."