TEMPLE, TX — Colonel Tom Clady loved being in the military, taking after his dad. He knew serving his country was something he is meant to do.
Starting in 1989 and in the military for 27 years, he never saw his days of service ending. It wasn't until a friend of his asked him about being an ROTC instructor.
"Its a great post military career, but I put him off as long as I could," Clady said.
When trying to make the decision to leave or not, he remembered his ROTC instructor and how much his instructor meant to him. Clady still talked on the phone with him, asking for advice, and then he realized he wanted to be that same person for others.
Since 2017, he's worked as the Senior Army Instructor at the ROTC Program at Shoemaker High school. In the short years he has been serving students, many look up to him.
"He's one of the ones I go to, to talk about some issues more than my counselor or my teacher," Rex Richardson, junior, said.
Teaching them about why it's not only important to serve, but thank those who have already served, Clady takes his students to different events, including giving veterans Quilts Of Valor. He hopes by introducing them to veterans and hearing their stories, it makes an impact on why they might want to serve as well.
"So you teach him a little bit about character and leadership on the way," Clady said. "So that when they do go in the military, whether they enlist or when they go to college first and become an officer, they have a positive correlation and not a negative connotation."
It's always bittersweet to Clady when students are graduating from high school, but he knows that our future fighters are ready to do whatever they put their minds to.
"Then you know that they've actually learned and they've matured, and ya know, life is life-long learning," Clady said.
Most importantly, as a veteran himself, he reminds his students that no matter how many years you serve, you are a veteran.
"Its a source of pride, and no matter where you go, they all have the same stories. It's just in a different time and different place," said Clady.