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Stories of Service: Jacksonville Army Sergeant returns home to help community

Staff Sgt. Neal Martin III is helping build the next generation of our military at the Army recruiting office on Jacksonville's Northside.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In this week's Stories of Service, we're featuring Army Staff Sergeant Neal Martin III

He's been in the United States Army for almost 13 years. Now, he's helping build the next generation of our military at the Army recruiting office on Jacksonville's Northside. 

"A lot of times when I look at young men and women, I see myself in them. I see what they've been through," Staff Sgt. Neal Martin III explained.

Martin grew up in Jacksonville in the Lackawanna neighborhood. He said times were tough. 

"A lot of violence. A lot of death. A lot of my friends passed away."

Martin joined the Army to give his family stability and structure. His military career has taken him across the world, including Afghanistan. 

"I remember somebody came up to me and said, "Thank y'all for being here." At that point, I knew that I did something great."

It was Martin's idea to come back home and recruit young men and women in his community.  

"I asked the Army, can you send me back home? They sent me back home. Just having that natural conversation with these young kids. This is a career. This is a pathway you can take. I can show you stability."

RELATED: Stories of Service: UNF honors women veterans

Martin's wife, April, is also an Army veteran. By coincidence, we featured her in a prior "Stories of Service." Together, they have five children. 

This entire family is making a difference in our community.  

"I get happy when I can change somebody's life."

Thank you Army Staff Sergeant Neal Martin III for your service to our country and city. 

If you have a story of service to share, email us at storiesofservice@firstcoastnews.com  

Credit: Staff Sgt. Neal Martin III

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