I am unwrapping posts from the archives and mixing the old with the new. Enjoy this post from the past.
When people find out I am a veteran and the questions come, I tend to deflect the focus away from me. People don't always understand why. Let me explain.
Wearing my uncle's wool top from the Navy was the extent of my connection to the military as a child. While I vividly recall watching the Army commercials when I was in grade school - the ones with the silhouetted profiles of soldiers running over the crest of a hill - my first real introduction to the military did not occur until college.
I was a freshman when I noticed Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets rappelling off the science center. Long story short, looked like fun, the chance of a scholarship was enticing, I had nothing else planned at the time - joined ROTC. One thing lead to another and, with Bachelors degree in hand, I was commissioned and on active duty soon after graduation.
I saw active duty as a three-year opportunity to see the world and advance my education. Add in the fact that I'd get a paycheck and it was a mighty good deal for a college kid with some debt and a biology degree.
For me, this was a job - a temporary gig. It wasn't long before I realized that for others, this was so much more. For the soldiers I had the honor of working alongside of and leading, this was their life. Even as my three years turned into 10, I knew in my heart it wasn't ever going to be that way for me.
I was single, on my own and with no particular place to be. I didn't give up anything (other than a social life) yet there were sacrifices being made all around me. From the supply sergeant's wife who threw herself into Girl Scouts so she and the girls had something to carry them through the absences, the drill sergeant (psycho-like to new recruits) who kept his daughter's teddy bear in his desk drawer, and the commander who, missing most of her children's birthdays, vowed not ever miss those of her grandchildren - tough heart-wrenching choices were made everyday.
There was sacrifice but there was not sadness. There was honor, inspiration and pride in being part of something bigger than yourself. And while I got to be a part of that, it wasn't about me at all. It was about doing what I could to honored the commitment and sacrifice of the military family.
Reach out to a Veteran and their family today to thank them for their service and let them know you care.