Richard Gilbert served in the army for three years during the Vietnam War. He was a volunteer right out of high school, and figured the military was his only way to get to college. He was stationed in Pleiku, Vietnam and worked as a military police officer. He saw very little combat but his base was ambushed a couple of times. After the 3 years were up he majored in art at Appalachian State and worked as a middle school art teacher.