GLENDALE, Ariz. — In early March of this year, Johann Serna was at a turning point in his life.
As the world began to adapt to COVID-19, Serna was grappling with the reality of what lay ahead in his immediate future. College hadn’t worked out for him and he knew he needed a viable future.
That’s when Serna went to the Arrowhead Recruiting Station, Phoenix West Recruiting Company, and decided to join the Army, the 19 year old wanting to serve his nation for a higher cause.
Almost six months later, Serna is gearing up to ship to Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Okla., having lost over 40 pounds in a determined effort to be physically ready for the rigors ahead.
When Serna first talked to a recruiter, he weighed 235 pounds and was not in optimal condition, understanding he had to improve his fitness.
“I had been going to school for mechanical engineering, but I had burnt myself out and took a break for a couple of months,” Serna said. “A recruiter called me and asked if I’d be interested in the Army and my first questions were about height and weight.”
Serna, a native of Buckeye, Ariz., said he actually met the physcial standards, but knew it wasn’t enough.
“I came down to the office and was taped and weighed by my recruiter (Staff Sgt. Levi Mills), who told me to come back in a month to see where I was at,” Serna said. “I knew I had to lose body fat, so I started dieting. I wasn’t going to school, so I had more time in the morning to work out.”
Serna said he generated a routine that saw him begin to lose weight rapidly.
“In the morning I walk two miles on the treadmill, work out my arms and legs, then do another two mile walk,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for a good five months.”
Serna said he felt good once he started seeing his weight drop, his hard work paying off handsomely.
“At first I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but once I starting losing the pounds, I was proud of myself,” Serna added. “It’s just a matter of sticking with it.”
Serna said it’s often been difficult adhering to the regime once he started losing weight, but over time he has gotten used to it, aided in part by his job.
“I work at Chipotle, so I mainly eat there — brown rice, chicken — which is all I’ve basically eaten for the last five months,” Serna continued.
Serna is now looking ahead to basic training, which will be followed by Advanced Individual Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Sam Houston, where he will attempt to become a medical logistics specialist.
“I originally wanted to do infantry, but due to my eyesight I wasn’t able to,” Serna explained. “I have 20/30 vision, so I took another job, which I had no issue with.”
Serna praised his recruiter for guiding him through the process and getting him the in shape he needed to be in.
“He (Mills) did a great job, especially when COVID hit and everything slowed down,” Serna said. “For a while I almost thought about backing out, but he told me to hang in there and I’m glad I did.”
Mills said Serna is one of the hardest working Future Soldiers he’s had the pleasure of working with and mentoring.
Serna came to him weighing 235 pounds, but after some nutritional advice, Mills said, he soon dropped the weight and was able to enlist at 194 pounds.
With his ship date to basic training coming on Sept. 30, Serna said he is both nervous and excited as the date draws closer.
“I think once I’m there and get into the routine, I’ll be fine,” Serna said. “I’ll be glad to get started and do the real thing.”