When Rick and Jeri Kravat's second-oldest son, Harrison Kravat, joined the U.S. Air Force in 2013, his parents weren't surprised. While a teenager, he had gotten interested in the military after visiting a Marine cousin.
Little did he know what he had started. A year later, his brother and the couple's oldest son, Hagan Kravat, also enlisted in the Air Force.
"Hagan had been going to college for about a year and a half and could not make up his mind what he wanted to do, and here he was 19 and he was getting restless," Jeri Kravat said. "We suggested it to him. It literally took him five minutes to make up his mind."
So, if one is a precedent and two is a trend, what describes five children in the same military branch at the same time? In a few weeks, it will be a reality for this Zachary family.
Twin brothers Kohl and Kaid Kravat, 18, will report March 7 to Joint Base San Antonio for basic training. Their sister, Karli Kravat, 20, doesn't have a report date but expects it to be soon.
Obviously, it will be a big change for the siblings but also for the parents.
"We grew accustomed to the idea with the first two," Jeri Kravat said. "When (Kohl and Kaid) decided, that kind of took my breath away. When (Karli) decided, wow, we're going to be empty nesters.
"They all wanted to travel and see the world. We raised independent kids," she said.
Although Jeri Kravat grew up in Zachary and Rick Kravat is from Hammond, their children spent much of their lives in Tennessee, where the family moved in 2005 before returning to Zachary in 2014. By that time, the oldest brothers were already in the Air Force.
The younger siblings were looking at attending college in Louisiana but discovered they didn't qualify for the TOPS tuition program. That started them thinking about alternative ways to pay for college, which made the military more attractive.
"We didn't want to have to pay off loans," Kaid Kravat said. "She (Jeri) called the recruiter first, and she called us up and said, 'I have talked to a recruiter and he is going to call you both.' He eventually called us and asked us questions, and then we scheduled a day to meet, and that's when the process really started."
Kohl and Kaid Kravat decided last summer to enlist, and it seemed like a good idea to join the branch where their older brothers served. They weren't the only ones thinking about it.
Karli Kravat's dad discouraged her, thinking his petite daughter was too small for the military. She never gave up on the goal, which became obvious when Kaid and Kohl Kravat made their formal commitment.
"When they signed, she was standing over them watching them sign, and I could tell that this was what she was meant to do," Jeri Kravat said. "When we left, I told him, 'You can't hold her back anymore.' He said, 'I know. I know I can't.' "
In addition to the educational benefits, Karli Kravat, who wants to go to medical school, said a military posting overseas provides off-hours opportunities for Christian ministry. Harrison Kravat, who is stationed in Okinawa, visits an orphanage there when he is off duty and goes on mission trips. He plans to attend seminary after leaving the Air Force, Karli Kravat said.
"Seeing him being able to do that while he's in the Air Force serving his country, if I can finish school and become a doctor, I can take my leave to do mission trips in the country that I'm at," she said. "Once I get out, I can go to med school, and then we can both do missions together."
"Because of our Christian background, they all have a mindset to serve," Rick Kravat said. "It's completely at the core of who we are. That's the way they were raised. I haven't pushed them in any direction. I tried to find out where their gifts were and encourage them in that." ___
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This article is written by George Morris from The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.