CORTLAND, N.Y. — "It was mentally and physically demanding," Cortland native Dakoatah Miller says of his first year of military training. The Cortland High School graduate recently completed basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, which he says taught him "to be a better person."
"They teach you not only how to be a solider but how to carry yourself like a soldier, whether you're actually on base or not," he said. "At all times, you are to be the best you can be as a person."
Miller has committed to the New York Army National Guard for the next eight years; he is interested in pursuing military schooling and possibly joining the airborne forces. He's also a student and football player at SUNY Cortland.
"I'm looking to further my military career as I further my educational career," he said.
During his time at Fort Benning, Miller made many friends and has stayed in contact with members of his platoon. His plan is to join active duty after graduating from SUNY Cortland.
"Being in the National Guard, it's helpful that I have a lot of options," he said. "As for what I want right now, I see myself being active after college and trying to further my career that way."
Born at a Syracuse hospital, Miller has lived his whole life in Cortland, which he says "has more of that hometown feeling" than big cities. "You get to know everybody. I like the community."
Miller will return to SUNY Cortland in August, where he is majoring in exercise science and playing at the defensive lineman position for the football team.