Jovano Graves' parents begged him not to join the Army right out of high school in 2003, when U.S. troops were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But their son refused his parents' pleas to try college. He followed them both into the Army instead.
Last June, 11 years later, Staff Sgt. Jovano Graves returned home from Afghanistan, joining his mother, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sonia Graves-Rivers, for duty here at Ft. Bragg.
"My family, going way, way back, has always felt so proud to be Americans," said Graves-Rivers, who comes from a family in which military service spans six generations, starting with her great-great-grandfather, Pfc. Marion Peeples, who served in a segregated black unit during World War I.
Her father, Cpl. Harvey Lee Peeples, fought in the Vietnam War. Her uncle, Henry Jones, was career Air Force. Another uncle, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Graves, spent 22 years in the Army. Her sister, Janice, served 24 years.
"In our family, there's a deep sense that being American means serving — showing gratitude by giving back to your country," Graves-Rivers said.
Multi-generational military families like the Graveses form the heart of the all-volunteer Army, which increasingly is drawing its ranks from the relatively small pool of Americans with historic family, cultural or geographic connections to military service.