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  • Writer's pictureJamie Rothberg

Frieman as a Free Man

Keeping on the protecting your country track, I decided to reach out to a friend who serviced in the US Army. I may only have known Jon Frieman for a couple of years, but I thoroughly enjoy that I am able to mess around with him and he gives me shit right back, so I decided to write about him...because that makes sense? Right?

Jon Frieman currently works in NYC. He is a 28 year old Sales Manager at an AdTech company, Taboola. He lives with his girlfriend, he is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan, and he keeps himself active by participating in a men's baseball league each summer.

Don't stop there, though! Part-time, Frieman attends Johns Hopkins University Carey School of Business.

Frieman explained to me how there was a specific point in time when he decided he would join the army.

"On 9/11, at the age of 12, I told my parents I was going to join the military. I never wanted to see something like that happen to people in my country or city," he accounted. "I think the heroism displayed that day, by ordinary Americans, made me realize I was a part of something bigger and that I wanted to contribute."

Frieman's family was fully supportive of Jon's strong passion even though it was "unfamiliar territory. Nobody in my family had served since WWII, so I was a bit of a trailblazer, learning as I went."

I picture myself on the first day of training and, essentially, crying like a baby. So naturally, I asked Frieman if he was nervous on his not-so-fake-but-actually-real first day.

"Good nervous. It's like how you feel before playing in a big football game. It's very exciting and you don't want to screw up."

Frieman realized that being away from his family was extremely difficult during his training because family is his entire support system. For summer football practice, he recalls, he was able to go home to his parents and siblings. Not for the military, though. "When you get pounded into the ground in training, all you have are the 'battle buddies' you just met."

For four years, Frieman devoted his time and attention to serving this country - that's something that not a lot of people his age can say.

Frieman described the most life changing moment he had while he was overseas. "I arrived in Iraq after my training was finished and I didn't deploy with my unit - they were already there. Showing up to a unit that had been in-country for 8 months already was brutal. I was the outsider."

Arriving alone, Frieman had to be on his own and "figure things out without any guidance."

Frieman chooses to accept that the feeling of being an outsider helped him grow immensely, ultimately making him stronger.

When his service ended, Friemen felt liberated, but it didn't take long for him to miss what he had overseas. Back in New York, connections were hard to form, bridges were crushed instead of created, and civilian life did not come easy to Frieman. Much time had passed before he was able to "find ways to be happy without my uniform on."

There are many misconceptions, I discovered, that civilians have about serving. I wanted to know what the biggest one was and Frieman was able to explain and diminish it quickly.

"That it's all about killing people. Our military sends more soldiers on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions more than anything."

Frieman misses serving everyday, but found ways to keep in touch with his unit.

Memories are important and reliving them, while hard, can sometimes be rewarding. Does Frieman have a diary?

Based on the sole reason that he knows I strongly dislike long, "empowering," feeling based Facebook posts, Frieman told me that his diary is essentially his Facebook. (Cue my eyeroll.)

Frieman knows that serving the army changed his life for the better.

"Serving my country was the best thing to ever happen to me and I'd do it all over again, seven days a week and twice on Sunday."

To check out what Jon has been up to (mostly just saying cheesy things about him and his girlfriend), you can find him on Instagram at @jon21frieman

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