“I Will Always Be a Soldier for Life,” Says Retired Sgt. Maj., Dog Tag Graduate
Lt. Col. Wenceslao Angulo, Communications Director, U.S. Army Soldier for Life
Retired Sgt. Maj. Sedrick Banks asked the crowd to clasp their hands in their laps, right thumb over left. He stood at the podium at the Dog Tag Bakery Oscars Viewing Party on February 22, 2015, an event supporting “American Sniper” and the portrayal of Veterans in entertainment. “That feels comfortable, right?” he asked the group. “Now clasp them so that your left thumb sits on top of your right. Isn’t that uncomfortable?”
Banks challenges himself to step out of his comfort zone every day—something he started doing after sustaining injuries while deployed to Iraq. “I used to eat, sleep and dream the military. After I was injured, everything changed,” he said.
While recovering, Banks was unsure of what he wanted to do. He felt less confident and sure of himself. He enrolled in a college class but dropped out. He started volunteering and, once he got out into his community, “started to find himself,” described Banks.
He also found Dog Tag Bakery, a unique work study program where wounded warriors from all branches of the military get hands-on experience running a business while also taking classes through Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. Graduates of the program receive a Certificate in Business Administration. “I saw that it would be a class full of wounded Veterans and I knew that they would understand where I was at,” Banks said. “We were going through it as a team.”
As he continued to move out of his comfort zone, Banks began to have a more positive outlook. “Iron sharpens iron,” said Banks, of the inaugural Dog Tag class learning from each other’s strengths. Dog Tag staff and Georgetown professors helped as well. “We felt like we were worthy of a master’s program at Georgetown University. They taught us just how they would any other student,” he said.
Now a graduate of the inaugural Dog Tag Bakery class, positivity and confidence fully restored, Banks started his own business as a motivational speaker and life coach. He also continues to volunteer and is working with different companies to help design their Veteran programs. “I’m always going to be a Soldier for Life. Anyone can be—it’s just how you decide to serve,” he said, of his passion to continue giving back to Veterans and to his community. “Veterans are about focusing on their abilities, not their disabilities. They have the will to continue serving and using the skills and experience they gained in the military to better their communities,” he said.
“I’m proud to have earned the title of Sgt. Maj. Now, I’m starting to live as Sedrick,” Banks added.