Posts Tagged ‘veteran’

A very good read courtesy of Military Outreach USA.

Is 22 a Real Number?.

I celebrated my last Independence Day on active duty this year.  It feels a little weird to throw that out there like that, but for the last 20 plus years I have been privileged to wear the uniform of my country on the birthday of my country.  For the last 19 of those years my wife and I have celebrated our 1 July marriage anniversary in conjunction with the 4th, I think that mostly started because the 4th was the day I had off of work and we knew we could celebrate unabashedly without the need for getting up early the next day.

This year we celebrated in our retirement location, where the family has been settled in for almost two years now.  We did not do our last big blast at Bragg like we have done so many years in the past.  New town puts on a pretty good show, the fireworks were not bad, considering they put absolutely no thought in to where they launched them from, but once the crowd shifted their position and moved forward of the trees that were blocking them, it turned out to be a pretty good display.  I am pretty sure the planners will do a little better next year at sighting them or at least focusing the thousands of people who showed up better prior to their beginning.

At the end of the day though, they just were not Bragg’s fireworks and all the events that go on with the day.  There was no flag ceremony, no cannons firing off, no buzz that you can only find surrounded by your brothers and sisters in arms, and, as much as I may hate to give them credit for it, there were no Golden Knights dropping in for the official kick-off of the festivities.  Despite this, it was a great day out with the family in our new home.

It was the last time we will celebrate with our son as a minor, he will be of age next year and free to be on his own.  We will still have our little girl who loves to get decked out in the red, white and blue and show a level of patriotism that is becoming a rarity these days.  She is swiftly approaching her teen years so I will hold on to that for as long as I can and the red, white and blue are replaced by all black, attitude and hostility.

Next year I will celebrate as a Veteran.  Hopefully, I will still be as enthused as I have always been.  Some of the reason for moving the family out so early was to get them settled and make it as easy as possible for them before I retire and uproot their lives and just turn them upside down.  Another part of the reason was so that I could get used to my new surroundings and slowly wean myself off that machine that has kept us going for so many years.  Maybe, just maybe, make it a little easier when I am going through the withdrawal that happens to everyone who has spent so long in uniform.  I know there are going to be some rough spots as I move further away from the life I have lead for so long, but we made these moves with the idea of sanding down some of those rough edges before they can do any harm.

January 1st I put one life behind me and officially begin another.  I trade one roller coaster for another.  It is a little bittersweet this last year in uniform.  I am leaving at a time that is just as, if not more tumultuous than any other in the last decade plus.  Friends and comrades are still in and will continue to go in to harms way.  Children of those I have served with over the years have reached an age to pick up the mantle and continue the fight we have grown too tired to.

Next year my daughter will finally get the undivided attention of Dad for the first time in her life.  My son will be a man in the eyes of the law.  And, my wife and I will get to celebrate our anniversary on whichever day we choose, simply because we choose to, not because it may be a day off and Uncle Sugar has extended it to me in his benevolence.  I look forward to being a Mister again and seeing things through the eyes of a civilian, or as close to that as is possible knowing the sacrifices that go in to keeping our country and freedoms in tact, whether it seems like they may be or not.  Next year I truly get to be part of the audience rather than a member of the crew putting on the show.

Over 20 years ago I raised my hand to volunteer for service to my country.  Sometime in the next 12 months I will come to the end of that service, again voluntarily.  For most of my natural life we have had an all volunteer service.  While there have been drafts and conscription during our short history as a nation, we have never had compulsory service obligations for young adults like many nations throughout the world do.  When I raised my right hand and swore my oath, I did not do so out of some misguided, selfless act of patriotism, I did so to finally grow up and make something out of myself.  When I raised my hand that time and all the subsequent times required to re-enlist, I did do so with the full intent of fulfilling my obligations that I signed up for.

Over the last 2 decades I have done so over and over again, often at the sacrifice of the things most precious to me.  I have volunteered for and accomplished the hard jobs, the shitty ones, the ones that an even smaller percentage of military populace, which is just a fraction of our national populace, agree to do.  I and a small community of like minded people have served at the whims of our leadership, sacrificing our lives, our health, our sanity and our families.  We have willingly gone into harms way to preserve the right of stupid people to continue sending us and even more stupid people can continue to vote them into office.

We do these things for a variety of reasons.  Whatever our individual reasons may be, we did so in that we would receive certain things at the end of our service.  It does not matter how long we serve to receive these promises, provided we have done so honorably and fulfilled our oaths to the best of our abilities.

Most people do not realize the amount of contributions made by the military during peace time, nor do they realize the exponential increase in contributions forged in blood.  The medical and emergency services alone have witnessed a boom in lifesaving techniques, equipment and training changes.  Law enforcement has benefited from changes in our techniques and procedures proven through our mistakes while executing operations where the enemy masquerades as civilians and the civilians end up bearing the brunt of violent outcome.  Business has benefited from the leadership and innovation from talented members of our force who have now joined their ranks.

The communications industry has been the recipient of millions, if not billions of dollars.  We have literally moved from simple phone and text to 4G LTE over the course of a decade and the ability to use that capability globally.  I can live tweet a firefight from anywhere on the globe should I choose to put aside regulation and risk my security clearance.  Do you really think these changes are made without the investment of military dollars?

No country in the history of the world has ever maintained its ability to protect its strategic interests, nor not fallen into civil unrest when it has become accepted policy to forsake promises it made to its veterans.  Rome was on a downward slide already, but it was hastened when it stopped honoring its veterans and it promises to them.  They were a world might until they over-extended themselves and began to remove pension and benefits from those who had made her so.  It has been so for every “state” throughout history.  We truly are a Romanesque nation, however we have no where near the time on the clock which Rome did from rise to fall.

We have been forsaken.  Our elected officials have expanded their power, power guaranteed by the blood of warriors, in order to turn a position of service into a career of power and hubris.  It is not just the politicians who have forsaken us, it is those whose rights we have also guaranteed in blood and sacrifice to continue to feed the ineptness of leadership based on false promises and the hope they will get something without actually having to do anything for it.  There is not simply a partisan divide at the hands of political parties and ideology, there is a nation of apathy, ignorance and entitlement to provide a foundation for the parties to continue to build upon.

I have performed my duties faithfully with no expectation than of that which I was promised.  I have spent almost as much time missing my family as I have actually spent with them.  I miss the brothers I have lost.  I will miss the excitement and fear of the unknown.  I have my demons that I keep locked up tight.  All this because I have served the nation, just as my brothers and sisters are currently doing.  All we ask is for what we were promised when we are promised to receive it.  We are not unfamiliar with sacrifice for the greater good, in fact we are intimately familiar with it.  If we must sacrifice after we have served, we have earned the right to be heard in how we are to make that sacrifice.  It should not be done so as part of political solidarity without sacrifice to all, ALL members of the nation, and should be done so as to be readily measurable and tangibly effective to the benefit of all, not simply the reputation of those who author it.