CAPTAIN JASON WEBB
While traveling in Japan, I had the pleasure of meeting several amazing men and women who are serving at the Army’s Camp Zama, Japan. Today I bring you an Army Captain Jason Webb and his wife, Jessica Webb, who have spent the last few years of his Army career in Japan.
Captain Jason Webb, an Army Engineer officer (12A), served at Fort Bragg, NC, Fort Riley, KS, Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and presently Camp Zama, Japan. Webb had one tour to Afghanistan in 2006 and one tour to Iraq in 2008. He has been ranks second lieutenant through captain (O1-O3). He was also a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Webb was a recipient of the Army Commendation Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, the basic parachutist badge, and the Combat Action Badge.
What are your duties?
I have served as a Platoon Leader, a combat adviser, an Engineer team leader, a company commander, and a staff officer.
What do you like most about serving?
I love Soldiers! I like leading Soldiers. I like hanging out with Soldiers. I like being a Soldier. I like being in the field and maneuvering units. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to work with the people that I get to work with.
What prompted you to serve?
I always knew that I was going to join the service. I always thought that I was going to be a Marine like my father and his father. I had the opportunity to go to Marine ROTC at a wide variety of very good schools, but I was accepted at West Point and chose to go to school there, because I had such a great experience on my visit (and such a terrible visit to the Naval Academy at Annapolis).
What are some of the greatest challenges you faced?
In Afghanistan, I was fired from a job for doing something that I knew was the right thing. It was very difficult not to bad mouth my boss (who remained my boss) after the incident happened. You meet lots of great leaders and lots of terrible leaders in the Army. You just have to take what you can from every experience you meet and create your own playbook based on what you liked and did not like.
In Japan, I was the company commander for the unit of which the USARJ Commanding General (two-star) and all his staff (most outranked me) were members. I was responsible to ensure that all of these people that were higher ranking than me (or worked for someone that was higher ranking than me) were completing the things that all Soldiers have to do (i.e., complete your annual physical, fill out papers for leave and passes, take a physical fitness test, adhere to the height and weight standards, etc.). Throughout this process, I routinely had to counsel people on ensuring they were meeting the Army’s standards. For instance, I had to tell a major (O4) that he was not going to get promoted to lieutenant colonel (O5), because he failed his physical fitness test.
What was the most rewarding experience?
My most rewarding experience was as a platoon leader at Fort Bragg, NC. This was just after we had returned from Afghanistan. I got two new bosses (Company Commander=immediate supervisor and battalion commander=the level above that) that were very willing to give me the autonomy that I got in trouble for with my previous bosses. I was trusted to lead reconnaissance missions on behalf of the unit. I was put in charge of conducting training for the unit. I was allowed to take my platoon and conduct the training that I felt would make my platoon successful based on the company commander’s intent. It ran the way that I expected the unit to run, because the commander had faith in his subordinate leaders. Both the company commander and the battalion commander gave me extremely high accolades when I departed the unit and I was extremely proud to be a member of the organization.
What was the training and prep for your MOS?
All officers go to some form of Army prep (West Point, ROTC, or officer candidate school called OCS). I went to West Point. It’s a four year college with a heavy focus on the Army and making the cadets there the best possible leaders that the Army can produce. Once that was finished, I went to Officer Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, home of the Engineer Regiment. There, I learned a great deal about small unit tactics. I learned how to lead a group of Soldiers (25-40) through various Engineer specific and Army general tasks. The Army expects its Engineer officers to be leaders in all types of Engineer units: combat, horizontal construction, vertical construction, geospatial information, and cartography. We learned a good amount about each of those five missions, but not enough to become an expert at any of them. Instead, the expectation is that you know enough to get into the job, and when you get to the specific job, you learn the rest by studying, OJT, and professional development from those that are currently in the unit.
How does serving affect your family? Do they find their part of service rewarding?
My wife loves that we are serving in the U.S. Army. She likes the people that we meet as much as I do. We have been very fortunate to get the opportunities within the Army that we have. Additionally, we have made great friends and created lasting relationships with people that we would never have met living in Cincinnati, OH as an office worker. We also love to travel, and the Army has afforded us great opportunities to do so. Living in Japan, we have been able to see parts of the world that many people don’t even see in movies. Because the Army takes Soldiers away from their Families for long periods of time, there is a hard push to make sure that when mission allows, Soldiers can spend time with their Families (we even capitalize “Family” because it is a priority to our service).
Do you plan on making a career of your service?
I would like to make a career out of the service; however, I want to do so under my terms. The Army has been fantastic to me and my Family. I always said that when the Army stops letting me decide what I want to do, then I’ll do something different. That time is coming in less than 3 months, but after I finish nursing school, I would love to serve the Army again as an Army Nurse.
What is your advice to someone thinking about serving their country?
It is extremely rewarding, BUT… There is a great deal that you will sacrifice. Your time, your body, your Family, and your privacy. These are all things that the Army will expect you to give up from time to time. It is essential that you give these things away from time to time. And not all the time. Still, someone is going to come to your room on a regular basis to make sure that you are not living in filth, because that person is responsible for your health and welfare. You will be expected to toe the line in many cases, because it is essential to good order and discipline. Someone will always be looking over your shoulder to make sure that you’re doing the right thing, because you are entrusted with America’s resources: equipment, security, money, time, and people. You must sacrifice for the Army, but it is extremely rewarding.
ARMY WIFE JESSICA WEBB
Jessica Webb met her Husband, now Captain Jason Webb, through a mutual friend during his last semester at the United States Military Academy or West Point as it’s more commonly called. They began dating shortly after he graduated. Jessica knew going in from day one that his intent was to be career Army officer (at least 20 years).
What did you like best about the Army?
I loved that the Army allowed us the opportunity to live in different parts of the world. I could have never dreamed that one of those places would be Japan but that is where we have lived for the past 3 years after shorter stints in North Carolina, Kansas, and Missouri. I’ve been blessed to accompany my husband on several TDY’s (temporary duty or business trips in civilian terms) to Australia and Hawaii as well.
What did you like the least?
Obviously deployments is at the top of this list, no one likes being separated from their spouse but another aspect that I strongly disliked is related to my favorite thing about the Army. Because we lived far away from our biological families, our friends at each duty station became our extended family. We celebrated holidays and birthdays with these people and they truly became family to us, then each time we received new orders we would have to leave them behind. I loved getting to live in and explore new parts of the world but I hated saying goodbye to my friends. No matter how many times I did it, it never got easier.
What are some of the ways wives contribute in any given branch?
Like I mentioned, when you’re living far away from family your friends and fellow Army spouses become very important to you. When you have a baby, they’re there to bring you meals. When your car breaks down, they’re there to drive you to the grocery store. When your husband is deployed, they’re there to be your date for dinner and a movie. When family morale is high it is easier for soldiers to focus on their mission. I think the best way spouses can contribute is to help each other out and keep things moving smoothly on the home front.
What organizations are available to support military wives?
The Army offers abundant support to military spouses. One organization that has been most beneficial for me has been ACS (Army Community Service). Each base has an ACS organization that offers classes ranging from AFTB (Army Family Team Building which teaches spouses how to navigate military life including some acronyms, how to read an LES (a pay stub in military terms) and the ranks along with a lot more. I highly recommend new spouses take these classes) to finance classes and cooking classes. They have employees who can help with finances, counseling, children with special needs, etc. They provide information about the local area, both on and off base. They also can help you find volunteer opportunities or a job in the area. Any time I need information, ACS is always my first stop.
What advice do you have for other wives in the military today?
Get involved! Find something that interests you and get involved. This lifestyle can be difficult and miserable for some but when you meet others who are in similar situations it can make all the difference. If you like painting, check out the local arts & craft center on base and see what classes they offer. If you like cooking, try your FRG (Family Readiness Group, every unit has one) they are always looking for someone to bring food to meetings and fundraisers. If you’re a Christian, link up with your local PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel) chapter and join the women’s bible study. Do you enjoy writing, consider starting a blog, there is a great military spouse blogging community out there. There is something out there for everyone. If you don’t know where to find a group that interests you, I suggest you start at ACS, they can probably point you in the right direction.
Overall, how do you feel this experience has been for you as a family?
The Army has been great to us. It has allowed me to see the world with my husband and make some of the greatest friends I could ever ask for. We don’t have children so I cannot speak on how it affects families with children but for my husband and myself, the Army exceeded all of my expectations. I enjoy knowing that we have a steady income (especially in today’s economy) and we will always have a roof over our heads, even if it is stark white government quarters.
You can check out more from Jessica on her blog Bleu Dress and Dress Blues
THANK YOU CAPTAIN JASON WEBB AND JESSICA WEBB FOR YOUR SERVICE!