Moving up the ranks: Trevor Michaud graduates from Drill Sergeant Academy
From Minnesota to Georgia, Drill Sergeant Trevor Michaud’s military career has been supported by his family the whole way.
Growing up together in Deer River, Tia Hedenland only ever knew her younger brother as the wild child, a young kid who annoyed her and couldn’t sit still.
Now, she’s watched him graduate from one of the most disciplined institutions in the country — the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy.
Trevor Michaud, Hedenland’s brother, graduated from the Drill Sergeant Academy at Fort Jackson in South Carolina on March 30, to the pride of his friends and family back in northern Minnesota.
“Watching the person he was when he was little to where he is today, it’s kind of amazing,” Hedenland said. “He really kind of was that wild little child.”
Michaud, who is also a Leech Lake tribal member, was selected as one of 10% of noncommissioned officers qualified to attend the Drill Sergeant Academy. Candidates have to show their commitment and exemplify the values of the army to even be considered.
“I think he doesn’t think it’s as big a deal as the rest of us,” Hedenland said. “He knows the honor it is just to be chosen as a candidate … but for us that was amazing.”
The program to become a drill sergeant takes place over a strenuous 10 weeks and mimics army basic training all over again.
“That was probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in the army,” Michaud said. “It wasn’t very physical, but it was very mental.”
By the end of the program, drill sergeant candidates have become experts in every facet of training and are ready to guide new soldiers as they enter the army’s ranks.
“It was very challenging,” Michaud said. “They treat us like they want us to treat trainees so we get used to it.”
Life in the army
Michaud joined the army at 23, a little older than most recruits. At that point, he’d graduated high school and had been working for a few years, but felt like something needed to change.
“I wasn’t doing anything with my life at 23 years old,” Michaud said. “So I was like, I’ve got to do something different.”
What led him to seek out military service when presented with this crossroad were memories of riding motorcycles with his mother’s boyfriend and his buddies, who were all veterans of the Vietnam War.
“We would all ride our motorcycles and go to the recruiting offices together,” Michaud said. “So I guess they talked me into the army.”
Michaud went to the recruiting office in Bemidji and within a month he was off to a military base for training.
“His decision to join the army was probably the best decision he could have made,” Hedenland said. “An opportunity to have school paid for and go live his life, and that’s really what he’s done.”
His family has been incredibly supportive of Michaud joining the military and they’ve continued to help him whenever they can.
“My family was always there, whatever I needed,” Michaud said. “They’ve just been so much help and they really do care.”
Michaud has been stationed in Georgia for 11 years, and now has a wife and children of his own, but he still keeps in close contact with his family in Minnesota.
For his graduation from the Drill Sergeant Academy, his family surprised Michaud by flying down for the ceremony and celebrating with him afterward.
“They surprised me at my graduation, I didn’t even know they were coming,” Michaud said.
For Michaud’s parents, seeing their son graduate and earn such a prestigious position in the army was something very significant.
“My parents loved it, to watch their son graduate,” Hedenland said. “That was amazing for them.”
Now that he’s graduated, Michaud will soon start training new soldiers and helping them find the inspiration to make it through basic training and military life.
“I want to give soldiers the inspiration to be able to pass basic training and want to be in the army,” Michaud said. “I think if they see me work hard enough and actually care about them then that will help a lot.”
His family is also confident in his ability to inspire new soldiers, and Hedenland shared that she believes he has what it takes to push them while still being compassionate.
“I think he understands what they are going through,” Hedenland said, “and that’s going to make him push them harder because that’s what made him push himself. He can see the potential in them.”
For Michaud, becoming a drill sergeant isn’t the end of his aspirations and he hopes to eventually pursue becoming a Master Gunner, an expert in weapons systems.
“He might not see it himself, but this isn’t just a job for him,” Hedenland said. “It’s kind of watching a person grow and become a man in front of your eyes. His leadership skills are astounding.”