From the Mountains to the Boro: The James Braswell Story
Updated: May 3
By Roxanne Cortner
The Georgia Army National Guard was the first to help Augusta University set up drive thru clinics for COVID-19 testing. Soon, those sights will be adding vaccination clinics. Soldiers are taking on opportunities on the homefront to build up their G.I. Bill. For some soldiers, the adjustment was easy. Weekend drills were cancelled and they could take their training online. For others, COVID-19 hit them harder than they could imagine such as extending deployments.
James Braswell found himself returning home from a military school a week before COVID-19 shut down the U.S. The military trains soldiers to expect the unexpected and to always be prepared, but Braswell and his units were hit with the unexpected along with the rest of the world.
In 2020, Braswell was challenged with training soldiers in the midst of COVID-19. In his position, he makes sure the soldiers are being taken care of, that their forms are up to date and that they are getting credit for the different schools and training they go through. Braswell was tasked with making sure soldiers were still getting their training through online means.
“COVID didn’t have a big impact on him, it was business as usual,” Bennie Taylor, a friend of Braswell, said.
Braswell joined the military prior to graduating high school in 2010 and began basic training in the summer. He found himself at the University of North Georgia’s military school doing work with 60 credit hours before deciding he was not where he wanted to be in life. He was unhappy, so he took a year off and went to a military police school, then a public affairs broadcasting school before transferring to Georgia Southern to pursue a degree in journalism.
Braswell moved back home while attending Georgia Southern and working in the multimedia development center. Braswell also spent a semester working as the sports director for the radio station. He expanded his knowledge in broadcasting and developed his skills in video production which later put him ahead of his peers in his classes and his career. During his time at Georgia Southern, he also met his wife and they began dating in 2014.
Come time for graduation, Braswell was torn between two different opportunities having to do with public affairs. One opportunity would take him to Florida to be a photojournalist, while the other would keep him with his unit in Georgia. Braswell was offered more money to stay with his unit working in public affairs, which led him to the line of work he is in now.
Taylor described Braswell’s time in North Georgia as a “big brother” and “counselor” role for the new soldiers enlisted to the unit. Currently, Braswell continues to take on those roles in ensuring that soldiers are taken care of while Braswell can share the knowledge he loves to pass on to others.
Braswell has been awarded multiple achievements during his time in the military. The joint service commendation medal and class leader award at his primary military education classes are two he can check off of his list as he climbs the ladder to his ending role.
“Right now the end goal is to be the Senior Enlisted Leader of the Georgia Army National Guard,” Braswell said.
In 9 to 15 years, Braswell could be set up for retirement based on two career paths he has set in front of him. Granted he gets to keep the job he is in now, Braswell plans to extend his stay in the military. Braswell’s perfect world has him doing public affairs part time as he moves up in the ranks because he knows, realistically, he cannot stay in his current position and move up. Braswell will eventually have to decide which he would rather do, move in the rankings or continue working in the side of journalism he found a passion for.
Virginia Braswell describes her husband as hardworking and determined, while also caring and knowledgeable. Since meeting at Georgia Southern, Virginia Braswell has watched her husband enjoy his work and work at every assignment whole-heartedly.
“He’ll give a helping hand whenever and wherever he can,” Taylor said. “He has a big heart.”