“Opportunity to Serve: Jason Buselli”
“I was born and raised in Bucks County Pennsylvania in Yardley, which is about 30 miles NE of Philadelphia. I grew up enjoying the outdoors as well as playing ice hockey and lacrosse. The challenging isolation and independence of outdoor sports such as hunting and fishing made me very much enjoy challenging myself without the help of others. Alternatively, team sports really gave me a passion for working with the strengths of others to produce the greatest output. It was this combination of independence and teamwork that really defined my later life.”
Describe to me the moment you decided to join the military. Who or what led you to that decision?
“I grew up in a smaller neighborhood. Most kids went to the same schools and played in the same places. I was in a small Catholic school and became friends with a close neighbor. We hung out with my friend’s brother just as often as we hung out with each other. He was a little older than us, and when he graduated high school, he joined the National Guard and soon after lost his life in Iraq. Before this, I remember staying up and watching news coverage of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. This all inspired me to act, but my friend sealed the deal.”
What was your job in the Army? What type of training did you have to undergo to be certified for that position?
“I was a Field Artillery officer in the Army. I completed Air Assault school and a Sensitive Site Exploitation course as a cadet. As an officer, I completed Filed Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course and Joint Fires Observer Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma as well as a number of courses thereafter to tee me up for my deployments as a Combat Advisor.”
Who are some of the soldiers you worked with that had an impact on your service?
“Kyle Faust, a soldier of mine, lost his life to a battle with depression. He was my soldier for about a year and wasn’t my all-star soldier, but from Day 1 he performed above his capacity and was a good person to those around him. He was getting out of the Army, and my Platoon Sergeant assigned him as my RTO (radiotelephone operator) for a Joint Readiness Training Center Rotation, and at first, I was skeptical because I wasn’t sure if he’d perform as well as I needed him to. I felt like we inspired each other and we rocked that rotation.”
When you hear the term “leader” who is the first person that comes to mind?
“Brigadier (UK) Gerhard Wheeler and Colonel Kevin Jackson. These two led the Kabul Security Force from 2015-2016, and I served under them commanding a small police advisor team. These two worked seamlessly, put the mission first without jeopardizing troops, and trusted me. It was that trust that enabled me to lead without boundaries and perform the best.”
Describe to me your most profound experience while wearing a uniform.
“My second deployment I was tasked with improving the security in Kabul by way of the Afghan National police and allowing freedom of movement throughout the city through establishing relationships with police leaders. There was one day when a flash windstorm deemed our air assets useless, and if my Soldiers were wounded in action, I could not get them to a high level of care within “the golden hour,” which is a big sign to turn back and return to the base. I was at a police compound about 10 kilometers from my Forward Operating Base. My Afghan Police counterpart recognized my unease and ordered his police to escort our convoy through winding roads moving civilian vehicles out of the way when visibility was only a couple of feet. All of the sudden the police stopped the convoy and I became very worried that we were put in an ambush, but to my surprise, two police hoped out and jumped in an underground culvert to check for a roadside bomb before letting us pass. It was months worth of relationship building that culminated in this trust that really set me back to make me feel like both us and the Afghan people wanted peace.”
What taste, touch, or smell symbolizes the Army to you?
“The feel of a dirty uniform screams “Army” to me. A stiff dirt/dust caked pair of pants, that’s about it.”
How has military service changed you? How have you continued to serve after the Army?
“It has made me decisive, conscious of productivity, and I honestly aggressively choose action over inaction.”
“Since leaving the Army, veteran causes like helping injured veterans are very important to me. I feel lucky that nothing has ever happened to me after 19 months in Afghanistan and 350+ missions to compounds across the country. I ran a fundraiser for Homes for Our Troops earlier this year hosting an exhibition Hockey match against my Cornell MBA Hockey Club and the Fort Drum Mountaineers, my old beer league squad made of Soldiers and veterans around Fort Drum, NY. We raised $3,500 which felt awesome. I also volunteer to get veterans outdoors.”
What should the average civilian know about the military?
“I really think anyone can do it. There’s a job for everyone. People are afraid of it for some reason, but just know you can do it if you’d like.”
What is your current position as a civilian and how did your Army experience prepare you for that?
“I am a second year MBA student at Cornell University. I will be working in Pharma Business Strategy/ Marketing for Johnson & Johnson. In the Army, I solved big ambiguous problems without clear definitions. In JnJ I solved big ambiguous problems without clear definitions. The Army provided me with the tools to make decisions, change what doesn’t work, and succeed. I am extremely happy to have had the opportunity to serve, learn, and be a part of what I still feel is one of the best organizations in the world. I would gladly do it again one hundred times out of one hundred.”