At 24, Brian Fox was living in Lincoln, Ark. with his new wife, Tammy, and a baby. He was working as an independent tile and carpet contractor with nothing to fall back on in the event of an emergency.
"I just got tired of living paycheck to paycheck, and I was worried that if anything ever happened to my family, what would we do," he said.
One of the only members of the family in his generation who had not joined the military, Fox said he began to look at the National Guard.
"That way I'd get me a little bit of extra money and some money for school," he said.
What he found was so much more.
"When I came back from my initial training, I had so much fun I couldn't believe they were paying me what they were paying me," Fox said. "It was the greatest job in the world."
The fun ran its course, and after six months in the National Guard, Fox went to active duty in a rapid deployment unit with the 1st Infantry Division in Germany.
"As soon as I got to Germany, I went straight to Kosovo. The first day they gave me a unit, the second day I got my unit and they told me I was going to Kosovo and get a good night's sleep," he said.
Five months later, Fox's wife and daughter joined him in Germany.
The next few years, Fox was deployed numerous times throughout Europe from Bosnia to Tunisia and also Egypt, on missions ranging from political escalations to medical civilian patrols.
"At the same time, I was getting a lot of training, a ton of experience and made promotion very, very fast," he said. "I just really liked it over there."
Most of his deployments were political in nature.
"Like when there were problems between Palestine and Israel, they would send us to Egypt and we would do a huge live fire exercise on the border and the Palestinians would say ‘well the United States has 60 tanks over here' ... they're just training them to go to war," Fox said.
But the missions were different in Kosovo, which was without any services after the war.
A medic attached to a mortar platoon, Fox supported the soldiers as well as worked with community members who were sick, hurt and in need of medical care.
"It might be something as simple as a case of Band-Aids all the way up to antibiotics or getting a doctor out there to see them," Fox said. "We got one guy back on post to get his hearing checked and get him evaluated for hearing aids."
Fox was getting ready to board a plane to northern Iraq in 2001, when he learned his mother had been diagnosed with stage four tonsil cancer.
"So I got sent home and didn't get to go to Iraq," Fox said.
He spent the next two months taking care of his mom who lived in Alpharetta, but each day he called and checked in with a sergeant major at Fort McPherson in Atlanta.
When his mom was better, Fox reported for duty at the base.
About the same time, a surgeon he knew, who was stationed at the ranger camp in Dahlonega, offered Fox the opportunity to run the camp's EMS program.
"So we moved up there and we, me and the surgeon, got the EMS program going," Fox said.
After three years, Fox was transferred to First Army at Fort Gilliam as an enlisted advisor to a reserve unit marked for deployment to Iraq.
"So I was thinking, alright, finally, I'm going to get to go to Iraq," he said.
But the unit was in Mississippi when Hurricane Katrina happened, and Fox never made it to Iraq.
"We were all sitting down in Hattiesburg and there was an announcement that we all had to go to the movie theater - much like the beginning of the Patton movie," Fox said. "Gen. (Russel) Honore comes up and says, ‘before I get started on all the work that needs to get done, if you're a medic, go back to your room, get your ... bag, and get back. There will be a bus here in about 30 minutes.'"
For the next week, Fox was one of hundreds of medics working with the New Orleans Police Department, helping with security and supporting the infantry of officers.
"Gen. Honore was real pleased with the work we'd done and I got offered a position at Camp Shelby for First Army teaching a combat medicine course," Fox said.
He spent the next 18 months training medics that were going to Iraq in tactical combat casualty care, a new technique used by the army that is just beginning to reach civilian emergency services.
Fox ended his military service in 2008 and has been employed as a paramedic with Dawson County Emergency Services.
From his service, Fox said he has gained self-discipline, a strong work ethic and a sense of fraternity.
"That's one reason why I'm in public safety. I enjoy helping other people. I've always had some type of service related job my entire life," he said. "...that camaraderie and fellowship with like-minded individuals that are motivated and that enjoy what they do, that's an environment that's sometimes difficult to find."
Fox and his wife, Kelly, have lived in Dawson County since 2008. The couple has two children, a daughter Cassie who is 13 and a 6-year-old son Jarrod.