The full unit of soldiers from Slovenia and the United States pose in front of their vehicles. These soldiers, including Jerrod Griebel (staff) were all a part of a joint operation in Afghanistan.
The full unit of soldiers from Slovenia and the United States pose in front of their vehicles. These soldiers, including Jerrod Griebel (staff) were all a part of a joint operation in Afghanistan.
Jerrod Griebel

Veteran’s Day: English teacher re-enlists in the National Guard

Jerrod Griebel (staff) re-enlisted in the Colorado National Guard in December 2022

During the month of November across the nation, veterans are recognized for their service and sacrifice to ensure the safety and security of the United States. English teacher Jerrod Griebel (staff) is one of the thousands who has served. Though he retired from the military several years ago, he recently made the decision to re-enlist in the Colorado Army National Guard. 

Griebel is a widely loved English teacher, but his service in the Army is not nearly as widely known as he is. “I knew Griebel served in the military, but I don’t think I knew that till this year actually,” Eastin Hubbard (11) said. Hubbard is in Griebel’s advisory and has seen Griebel every day since his freshman year.

In 2007 Griebel enlisted in the National Guard as an intelligence analyst. In late 2011 and early 2012, Griebel was deployed to Afghanistan where he served on an Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT). The purpose of the team was to mentor the Afghan Nation Army (ANA). They took 12 people from the Colorado National Guard and partnered with Slovenia’s military through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 

Griebel poses with his team in Afghanistan. Griebel was part of a NATO Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) team meant to mentor the Afghan Nation Army (ANA). (Jerrod Griebel)

As a soldier working in an OMLT, Griebel and his team would go to different outposts where the commanding officers would talk about what was working and what wasn’t working in regard to military operations. Griebel’s role for the team was intelligence, but in the field he acted as either the driver or gunner for his vehicle.

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Griebel initially had no intentions of serving in the armed forces when he was in high school: “When I was a senior in high school I got a phone call from a recruiter for the army and at the time I was not interested in it at all because I was going to college to pursue other things,” Griebel said.

Once Griebel reached college, his perspective toward military service changed slightly after conversations with his fraternity brothers: “During college I joined a fraternity called Alpha-Kappa-Lambda and a number of my fraternity brothers were actually in ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps)… through talking to them I thought it might be something I want to try one day, ” Griebel said. 

Though Griebel became more comfortable with the idea of joining the military, ROTC was not a route he wanted to pursue as it’s designed to produce officers. Because he was studying to become a teacher, he realized that ROTC wasn’t the path for him. 

Following his graduation from college, Griebel enlisted in the Colorado National Guard. The National Guard is different from the United States Army as the soldiers in the National Guard are not only at the Federal Government’s disposal, but they are also at the state and local government’s disposal as well. Additionally, the National Guard requires less training after enlistment and allows soldiers to return to the comfort of their own home. Griebel said, “I ended up enlisting in the Guard in 2007 as an intelligence analyst and served six years with one deployment to Afghanistan.”

Griebel patrols in the Afghan mountains while on his deployment to Afghanistan. Griebel served only one deployment to Afghanistan. (Jerrod Griebel)

Griebel was released from the National Guard in July of 2013 because of ambitions to live in Europe. “I got out of the National Guard in July of 2013 because I wanted to move to Europe — and I did; I lived in Slovenia for two years. And then about two years ago I got a postcard in the mail that said ‘you can serve again.'”

After receiving the postcard, Griebel left it on the kitchen table “for a long time,” not knowing if he wanted to return to the National Guard now having a job as a teacher. “I thought to myself that teaching is such a time-consuming job… finally I just threw it away,” Griebel said.

However, the seed of re-enlisting was planted, and he kept in the back of his mind.

“A year and a half ago, the summer of ’22, I went to Baltimore to visit a friend of mine who was actually my roommate when I was at Army Intel School in 2008…. Just through talking with him and the work he was doing… going to D.C. and doing the American History tour on the Washington Mall and we went out to Gettysburg, we visited Arlington, just through those experiences I realized how much I missed it. Both for contributing to something bigger than myself as well as the deep sense of camaraderie in the military that I don’t quite get in this job,” Griebel said.

After these visits with his former roommate and to historic battle sites, Griebel made the decision to re-enlist in the Colorado National Guard: “So after those decisions it led me to say, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this now,'” Griebel said. With this decision, Griebel understood that if he didn’t enjoy this time with the National Guard he could be done after the expiration of his contract. 

During his time in the military, Griebel learned many lessons that help him today and have changed his outlook on his life and the world. “When I was deployed, we had this rocket attack and the warhead of the rocket landed like 15 feet behind me, but it didn’t detonate. If it did I would be dead right now and that whole day and that experience…. It was a very, very stressful day. My outlook on life has shifted because when students are being difficult or challenges with a co-worker or whatever it is, I just think ‘Is a rocket going to land behind me?’ Probably not,” Griebel said. 

Not only has Griebel helped maintain the freedoms the U.S. enjoys today, but he has also influenced the lives of others through his teaching. Bryson Bennett (12) is a student who has an amazing relationship with Griebel: “I love Mr. Griebel he’s a good dude, really personable, down to earth. I’ve grown a really good relationship with him and he’s been a good mentor.”

Through students like Hubbard and Bennett, Griebel has touched the lives of many, whether it be through his lessons in the classrooms or the lessons he’s learned from the National Guard and shared with his students. Griebel originally re-enlisted in December 2022 because he wanted to “contribute to something bigger” than himself; while he’s certainly done so in the military, he’s also done so here at Windsor High School through building relationships with and teaching his students.

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