I recall early mornings of military service in technical school, stumbling out of my bunk to a loud speaker playing reveille. The time, 4:45 a.m.
As I stumbled out of bed and my roommate nestled under his blankets. He seem to stave off the song emanating through the base. “Bro, you getting up?” My tired eyes piercing his way.
Ah, the joys of military service, waking pre-dawn mornings to screaming training instructors. Military service was hectic in the beginning, but it served as a foundation for my career when it was all said and done. Even today, I apply for jobs, select “veteran” on the application, and submit for preferential treatment.
Military service is not a job. It’s a way of life. Those serving alongside are considered family. Each dawns battle dress uniforms (BDUs) bearing the beacon of hope, the American flag. We fight not for political affiliation, but for the person standing in the fox hole next to you. To be accepted into this fraternity requires only one thing, sacrifice of individual freedom for the security of a nation.
It’s been 13 years since I stood in a conference room at the processing center and raised my right hand to take an oath. I served the initial for-year enlistment and decided to take the knowledge and education gained into the government world. It was an honor serving my country.
When I enlisted, my life was in a tailspin. I graduated high school, moved out on my own, and tried to brave the real-world. My attempt at college was thwarted by laziness. Jobs were scarce. I jumped around like a Mexican jumping bean, searching for the highest bidder. Little did I know, my skills and abilities were limited to only a high school education.
With no direction in life, I wondered aimlessly. In a bid to regain balance, I met with an Air Force recruiter. “What do these guys have to offer?” I thought. After several minutes, my life changed forever. The sharp dressed male recruiter convinced me life on the inside was better. No sooner than one month, I was on my way to basic training.
It was a rough transition from civilian to military life. Everything I was taught growing up couldn’t prepare me for a world filled with discipline, integrity, pride, and service. The military was my saving grace. It raised me out of the pits of mediocrity and into one of dedication and vision.
Though my military service to this country ended long ago, I fill will pride when the national anthem is played. Only a military veteran can feel the patriotism from that song. And I presume it is a feeling that will stay with me all the years of my life.