By Sgt. John D. Ortiz
4th Sustainment Brigade
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – One of the great challenges of parenting is finding the right balance between raising children, funding retirement and paying for college for a teenager who is months away from graduating high school.
For some families, having all three events come at once is a triple whammy often leaving parents with sleepless nights over financial matters.
Yet for deployed Army Maj. Daniel L. McGee, Sr., personnel officer for the 4th Sustainment Brigade, paying for college will be a good feeling after all.
It turns out that his oldest son is pretty good at sports.
So good in fact he signed a letter of intent to play football at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark., a NCAA Division II school on a full scholarship.
Daniel McGee, Jr., was the lead runner for Southside High School in Fort Smith, Ark., and led his team with 1,716 yards and 22 touchdowns during his senior season. In addition, he earned All-State and All-Conference honors and was chosen as the Times Record Player of the Year.
Yet, it is all bittersweet.
McGee, Sr., has been deployed throughout his son's senior year and will just begin to redeploy as school lets out in May. However 8,000 miles and an 8-hour time difference were simple obstacles to overcome; it was being away from his family that was the hard part.
"It's tough, but with modern technology, we were able to leverage it to stay engaged with my family and talk to my son," said McGee, Sr.
"With the internet and the school's webpage, I have been able to see him play through the web-based video and photos from each game," he said.
For the first part of deployment, the ability to download the videos was pretty easy, yet as the deployment progressed, videos progressively were harder to download here. To combat the internet problems, his family would often times copy the video to media and send him the videos.
"I always tell him that I'm proud of him, along with all my children. And the opportunity to play football and earn a college degree for free is very good in my eyes," he said.
McGee, Sr., might have some part in his son's ability to play sports; he's no slouch either.
"I used to be a hot shot athlete too," said a smiling McGee., Sr. "I was a catcher and was drafted by the San Antonio Dodgers out of high school."
But before he could play, he enrolled at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and played football, baseball, and ran track.
McGee, Sr., didn't finish all of his eligibility at the college level. "I always joke around with my kid, telling him 'I have a few years of eligibility left, so I just might suit up and see who's a better player.'"
No matter what, there is no denying a father's love for a son, even more so when he doesn't have to pay for college.
"I'm looking forward to seeing him play after coming home from deployment," said McGee. Sr., "I'm very proud of him and I'm glad he is able to play at the next level."