It was when she was 6 years old, and living in Indiana, when Kin Shriner (Scotty, GENERAL HOSPITAL) handpicked Carly Schroeder to play his and Lucy’s daughter, Serena, on the spin-off PORT CHARLES in 1997. Over the course of the next seven years, she acknowledged to Soaps In Depth, “I grew up being told what to do, being taught what it means to be a professional and how to interact with people.”
The support that she got on that set not only led her to a successful acting career, including last year’s Ouija House and Deadly Shores, but it also led her to have the courage to make a big decision: She’s joined the Army!
With a criminal-justice degree in her pocket, and having spent the last year training with Army Special Forces and police SWAT team members for an upcoming action role, Schroeder saw a new path for her future. In addition to her brother being a Marine, she said, “My father served the country as an Army Green Beret, and you know, I couldn’t let the boys have all the fun!”
To that end, she explored different branches of the military before an Army recruiter asked her to convince him that she would be an asset. Having come from a strong family that she said “functions as a team,” Schroeder appreciated the challenge. “I answered that I was raised on loyalty and am willing to put the mission first”, she shared. “I care about people and think that it’s the highest honor to defend and protect others.”
In May, Schroeder left for South Carolina, where she spent two and a half months in boot camp before entering Officer Candidate School in Georgia. To prepare herself, she took classes and did workouts at her local recruiting station, as well as circuit training, running, and hiking on her own. She also tried to gain weight! “Hollywood body type versus Army body type are very different”, she laughs. “But I am enjoying eating more, I have to say!”
If given her druthers, Schroeder would like to learn either military counterintelligence or military police work. “Also pretty high up on my [interest] list is armor and explosive ordinance disposal, which my mom’s not too excited about”, she admitted. “That’s like the bomb squad.”
While she doesn’t care where she’s eventually deployed, Schroeder’s goal is to be able to make a difference. “When I was in college, I started learning about human trafficking; I’d been unaware of how big of an issue it is domestically”, she explained. “So I would like to learn things in the military that can help me once I’m out to not only spread the message about it but also be on the team that can help fight and better assist those victims.”
Having also spent a lot of time with homeless veterans on Los Angeles’ Skid Row and hearing about the alarming suicide rates, Schroeder became determined to help. “Being an actress, I kind of get swept under the rug when I start speaking out about it”, she said. “But once I’m part of the [military] family, I can better advocate for my fellow veterans.”
Schroeder admitted that some have questioned her decision to enlist at this point in her life, but she argues that people shouldn’t put a cap on evolving and growing. “We all should stop feeling like we’re just being held in confined boxes… I think that if you want to change occupations at 28, go for it!” she maintained. “It’s not like I’m retired from Hollywood. I’m taking a [five-year] break, just like I did when I went to college.”
For more on your favorite GH stars — past and present — keep reading Soaps In Depth magazine.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine