By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - If you asked 18-year-old Kendrick High School student Jeffrey Fletcher where he saw himself in thirty years, Fort Benning wouldn't even register on his mind.
"This Fletcher is going to play football in the NFL, or this Fletcher is going to be in the band with the next top hit on the top of the charts," Col. Jeffrey Fletcher, Garrison Commander of Fort Benning, says.
Fletcher wasn't even in the JROTC program in high school. After graduating from Kendrick in 1984, Fletcher went to Florida A&M where he had dreams of becoming a broadcast journalist.
But because he went to college on a ROTC scholarship, he entered the Army in 1988, and his whole life changed.
"At the end of the day you never know what opportunities are out there waiting for you and how they are going to present themselves so it's important that you do everything you can to prepare yourselves for that opportunity," Fletcher says.
Fletcher, who says his only goal was to be the best officer he could be, spent the next two decades moving up the ranks.
And then in 2011 he got the call from Fort Benning---something he attributes to his hard work and just a little bit of luck.
"The job I am in today was supposed to go to someone else, but as fate would have it the Army said let's send Fletcher to Fort Benning," Fletcher says.
Now, as one of Fort Benning's top leaders, Fletcher has a front row seat to the Army's evolution, most recently the decision end the ban on women serving in combat roles.
"When I first heard the news I thought back to 65 years ago, President Truman officially declared the armed forces would be desegregated," he says.
Fletcher says he thinks the armed forces will go through a similar angst and discussion it did all those years ago, but ultimately sees it as a positive.
"We have some very talented soldiers in our Army and if they're for the opportunity to really excel and do the best they can, then I think everyone benefits from that," Fletcher says.
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