A Look at America’s Newest Generation of Fighting Men and Women

Name: Spc. Jamie Upah

Unit: Veterinary Command, Mid-Atlantic District Veterinary Command

MOS: 68R – veterinary food inspector

Age: 27

Time in service: three years

Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Ia.

Family: husband, Josh; children, Maleah (8) and Athena (5)

How would you describe yourself?: “I am very determined and very persistent.”

Worst fear: “My worst fear is that when I go to reenlist in two years, they don’t need me and I don’t get to reenlist.”

Biggest regret: “Not coming in the Army earlier.”

Who do you most admire?: “Barack Obama. He is a thoughtful individual, and I think he really cares.”

One life-changing event: “The birth of my oldest daughter. I was a free-spirited 18-year-old and she made me into the determined person I am today.”

Why did you join the Army?: “I needed money for college, and I was in a dead-end job.”

What is your job as a food inspector?: “Basically my job is to make sure our Soldiers are healthy, ensure that they don’t get sick or die from the food they’re eating and save the government money. Wasted food is a costly business.”

Describe your job: “I inspect food at several facilities – the way it’s being stored, its condition – in various establishments to include AAFES, FMWR (such as the bowling alley) or the dining facilities. We inspect about 40 facilities monthly (including three installations outside of Fort Lee) and enter the results into a database.”

What does veterinary science have to do with food inspection?: “When Soldiers are assigned overseas, we often have to get meat from companies there, so we go and inspect the animals before they’re slaughtered. We need to know about animals – what’s healthy or isn’t healthy for consumption by humans.”

What is special about your job?: “I love the interaction with people. I see the food before its consumed, I talk to the people who are buying the food. I feel like I have an impact. I’m someone who has knowledge about my job and I can inform other people and I can help our Soldiers feel safe about the food they’re eating.”

Worst thing about your job: “Going into the freezers. I don’t like getting cold.”

Best thing about the Army: “Everything. I love the health benefits, the pay and the education. What they give to my Family is priceless.”

Worst thing about the Army: “Getting up at 5:30 in the morning to do PT when it’s cold.”

Did the Army fulfill any of your expectations?: “It surpassed my expectations. I thought I’d never see my Family, I thought I’d get better pay than the outside but not by grade of pay and I didn’t realize how many opportunities I have.”

You’ve been deployed to Kuwait. What do you know now that you didn’t know then?: “No matter where you’re at in the Army you are still sacrificing. Kuwait wasn’t a combat zone, but it’s still time away from your Family and anything can happen. I kind of feel bad that it was just Kuwait and not Iraq, but I was still away from my Family.”

What is the most important Army Value?: “If you’re doing the right thing, when no one else is looking, things are getting done. People are not in jeopardy because of you. To me that is crucial.”

– Compiled by T. Anthony Bell