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Reuben Thomas, U.S.M.C.

Reuben Thomas joined the military in 1997 and was deployed to Iraq to serve his Country.

Unsure about attending college or what his future plans would be, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Reuben Thomas decided to join the military after high school.

Thomas enlisted in the service in 1996, during his junior year at Westwood High in Mesa, and joined after graduation.

“I enlisted because my family has had a long history of serving in the military and it was always a positive thing, so I figured I would as well,” said Thomas.

Three days after high school graduation, Thomas left for boot camp in California.

“I learned the basic fundamentals: honor, courage and commitment,” said Thomas. “Always honor your family and your country, and if you’re going to do something, be committed to it, whether it’s military or your job.”

Not sure what he wanted to do after high school, Thomas followed his family members before him and enlisted in the U.S.M.C.
Thomas started out in boot camp, or Marine Corps Recruit Training, in San Diego, and then was in North Carolina before serving a year in Okinawa, Japan. “I even got deployed to Iraq,” he said.

“It’s a little intimidating when you are 18 years old and away from home. It’s a big world and at the same time it’s a small place, because you are still with the Marine Corps,” said Thomas. “I learned a little bit on the languages, the different countries, but I was more interested in the active side of it.”

He served from 1997 to 2005. After returning home, Thomas said he was more disciplined.

“It helped me realize what direction I wanted to go,” said Thomas. “I apply some of the methods I have learned from the military to get stuff done—not as hard or tough as the military. I never had a negative experience in the military. It was a learning experience throughout the years.”

Thomas learned valuable lessons in life from the Marines.
Afterward, Thomas worked for Casino Arizona and attended Scottsdale Community College. He’s the shift supervisor for the Casino Regulatory Agency in the SRPMIC tribal government.

“If you are just coming out of high school and thinking about [the military], or if you don’t want a 9-to-5 job or to go down a path that some friends or family members are going down, and you know you are not disciplined enough for college, which was my case, then join the military,” he said. “You will learn many things. In the end, it will benefit you a lot.”