FORT STEWART, Ga. – Like many high school students in the coastal community, Will Bell is a military child -- his father, Lt. Col. Gregory Bell, commands 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, on Fort Stewart, Ga.
Unlike many 16-year-olds, however, Bell keeps his schedule full and his eye on the future. When the right full-back isn’t sweating through two-hour soccer practices for the varsity Bradwell Institute Tigers, he’s debating government or volunteering in the community.
“Moving around so much I learned I had to make myself stand out to people to make myself known,” Bell said. “I try to excel in everything I do.”
Bell said being a military child has presented challenges—challenges like dealing with his father’s deployments and having to move every two to three years—but, he said, the opportunities the lifestyle has afforded have more than made up for the sacrifices he has made.
“From when I was a small child some of my earliest memories are [of] counting down until dad gets home,” Bell said. “It’s tough to deal with one of your parents [deployed], but … you kind of build a different chemistry in the house when they’re gone [versus] when they’re there.”
Bell said as a result of long separations he and his mother and older brother have become very tight knit.
“We always try to stay in contact and be there for one another,” Bell said.
The high school student said he has turned the other difficulty inherent in growing up a military child—being uprooted from friends and feeling like “the odd guy out” in new environments—into a positive outlook on life.
“After a while you enjoy being able to see so many different places, to do so much,” Bell said. “It’s not really a challenge, it’s something that’s helped make me, me.”
Bell said the best aspect of his father being in the military is that he has always had his father to look up to.
The high school student said his father’s service to the nation has inspired him to plan for a military career in the future.
That is, Bell said, if he doesn’t decide to become a doctor or politician instead.