Sisters-in-arms: Bartzis sisters pursue life in the military

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Groveport resident Ted Bartzis, left, along with his father-in-law Rich Thompson, right, hold pictures of sisters Mykayla Bartzis, left, and Emilie Bartzis, right. Mykayla is readying for deployment with the Army National Guard and Emilie is on active duty with the Army in Texas.

Two Groveport sisters, who graduated only a year apart, are taking a military journey together—one in the Army National Guard readying for deployment and the other on active duty in the Army.

Mykayla Bartzis graduated from Groveport Madison High School in 2015 and Emilie Bartzis in 2016. They are both stationed in Texas. Mykayla is a National Guard transportation management coordinator at Fort Hood and Emilie is a Patriot missile launcher operator for the Army at Fort Bliss.

“In the summer of 2016 my sister, my role model, went to basic training,” said Emilie, when asked why she joined the Army. “We’ve always been very close growing up—she’s my best friend—so of course I was her biggest fan.”

As a part of the process of Mykayla entering the military, Emilie said she wanted the same experience—the good and the bad.

“I decided to join the Army as an active duty soldier,” said Emilie. “I knew I wanted to go to college, but didn’t quite have the resources, but I knew the Army could provide me with not only that plus other options and opportunities in life, so I took advantage of it.”

The most enjoyable part of basic training  for Emilie was making lifelong friends.

“I talk to multiple people I went to basic with almost nine months ago,” said Emilie. “We find time in our busy Army lives to check on each other. I miss seeing them all daily.”

Emilie discovered that, if you want to be the best, you have to put your mind to it.

“My goal every day is to do something to make myself stand out in a positive way,” said Emilie. “Good things come to you when people know your name for positive reasons.”

Mykayla joined the military at the beginning of her senior year, 2015. She  knew she wanted to be in the military, but wasn’t sure which branch.

“I was able to get a lot of information and one-on-one time with recruiters because of Mr. Wallace, who was my junior and senior year teacher and mentor,” said Mykayla. “I don’t have any blood relatives in the military besides my sister. My papou was in the Greek Army, so that counts.”

Mykayla said she picked her job in transportation management because it is an important job in the Army when it comes to sustainment and transfers to a civilian job, so when she gets out, she can use the skills she learned in the Army in her everyday work.

As for basic training, the most difficult thing she had to overcome was the challenge to drive on and keep pushing herself, even after getting hurt.

“You still have to complete everything to their standards to graduate, no matter how much pain you might be in,” said Mykayla. “The most difficult part about my advanced school was trying to remember all the information we learned in the short period of time we had to learn it.”

Mykayla said the best part of basic was the last few weeks when everything was finished and she knew she did it.

“You knew you were about to move on to the next step of becoming a soldier,” said Mykayla. “The best part of advanced training was the bond you create with people. I still talk to most of them. I discovered I’m stronger mentally then I thought I was.”

Both young women plan to make the Army a career.

Their father, Ted Bartzis, and their grandfather, Rich Thompson, said the girls’ call to service started at an early age. Bartzis said Mykayla’s interest began around the fourth grade and continued when she was in the criminal justice program at Eastland-Fairfield Career Center.

“When she was 17, she came home and said she wanted to enlist in the Army National Guard,” said Bartzis.

Since she was under age, Bartzis had to give his permission so she could attend weekend drills during her senior year.

The Bartzis repeated the process when Emilie also wanted to enlist at age 17.

“She and her sister have always had a friendly rivalry,” said Bartzis. “She graduated a year early from high school, but did a future soldier program the last few months of high school. When Mykayla graduated from training, I was overwhelmed emotionally, so I was a little prepared when Emilie did the same thing.”

The Bartzis home is quieter now. Ted said it is strange to go from a house full of kids with his girls coming and going with their friends to one without the noise.

“I’m really proud of them,” said Thompson, who displays his granddaughters’ uniformed pictures on a table near the entrance to his Obetz home. “They’re very strong girls. They’re very competent. They were always leaders.”

The Bartzis sisters recommend the military to young women thinking about joining any branch of the service. Emilie, who is the only female in her platoon, said sometimes you may have to physically work a little harder to keep up with male recruits, but the work pays off.

“Don’t think for one second you can’t do it. You can do anything you set your mind to,” said Mykayla. “It is worth it all—the being away from home, the early mornings. It’s all so worth it to say you are a female in the United States military.”

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