George Robey walked into the Army recruiting office at Heartland Mall in the summer of 2008 weighing 298 pounds, looking to enlist.
Nearly one year later, Robey, 18, is more than 100 pounds lighter, and in August, will fulfill a lifelong dream when he reports to Army basic training at Fort. Sill, Okla.
“I have wanted to be in (the Army) my whole life,” Robey said. “I have always had a desire to do this. Plus, I don’t think I am cut out to do anything else.”
The requirement to meet specific weight standards before enlisting was not a shock, Robey said.
“Staff Sgt. (John) Mullen talked to me for a little while that first day and told me everything I would have to do to be able to get in,” Robey said.
In order to enlist, Robey was faced with the challenge of losing 100 pounds, a task that he soon realized was mental as well as physical.
“It is a mind game,” Robey said. “It is not as hard as some people think it is. I just made up my mind that I was going to do it.”
The first step was to change eating habits.
“I stopped eating trash foods,” Robey said. “No more ice cream, no large portions and just eating and drinking healthier. I haven’t had a Coke since last August.”
Beginning an exercise routine was the second step. Meeting at the recruiter’s office on a weekly basis, Robey began a physical training regimen.
“I started running about a half-mile,” Robey said. “It was all that I could do before I just couldn’t go anymore. Now, I am up to two miles and also do crunches and push-ups.”
Robey said losing weight was not just about meeting requirements to join the Army.
“I have always been big,” Robey said. “One of my friends told me that if I disciplined myself and lost the weight, I would feel better, and I do. I used to wear 56 size jeans and now I am down to 34.”
Upon graduation from Victory Life Academy last month, Robey found employment as a maintenance worker with the Camp Bowie Training Center, which has proven to be more than just a paycheck.
“I have been learning things like the military alphabet, time and acronyms,” Robey said. “It is hard not to learn that kind of stuff being out there.”
Robey will continue to work at the CBTC until he ships out for basic training in August. After graduation, Robey will head to Fort Huachuca, Az. for Advanced Individual Training (AIT), where he will become certified as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operator.
“I am really excited about all of this,” Robey said. “I have always felt joining the military was an honorable thing to do. I am looking forward to the independence of living my own life and participating in the war. I believe in what we are doing over there.”
Although Robey is unsure of where he will be stationed upon completion of initial training, he said he was told there is a likely chance that he was informed could end up somewhere in Texas.