The Struggle is Real.
I believe that no matter what the circumstance, it is imperative to always do what is right, to be honest, transparent and authentic. I would be doing every Veteran, my family and myself a disservice if I did not begin by saying that it was a struggle for me to write this. It is easy for me to explain the person I was in the military, but for some reason it has become increasingly difficult to face and understand the man I am today.
Joining the military was a combination of two things: I decided it would be a fantastic idea to protest my parents for not allowing me to attend the college that I wanted to go to. Simultaneously, one of my best friends persuaded me that it would be a great idea to join the Navy and become an aviation rescue swimmer with him. I was fearless back then – had the world by the horns. I conquered insanely crazy things that most people couldn’t fathom. If it was intense, mentally challenging, competitive or involved complicated obstacles, I completed it without hesitation.
For some reason, I never considered making the military a career. I knew that I wanted to have a family of my own one day and I saw how difficult it was to have a successful marriage while being deployed. It took me several years to truly appreciate my military experience. After life settled down and I came to terms with what had passed, it left me feeling empty and lonely. I realized that I had lost a large part of myself when I got out. Although, I never saw combat, I struggle on a daily basis to feel fulfilled, content and successful.
The most impressionable years of my early adult life were shaped by the military, it gave me a solid foundation to build from. During a season when I was flying down the highway-to-hell blind folded, the military saved my life. It gave me direction, taught me responsibility and emphasized the importance of putting other people ahead of myself. I miss the comradery, discipline, having a clear sense of purpose and being a part of a small, elite, tight knit community.
My post-military career path found me by default. I stumbled upon a leadership role within project management and it was a perfect fit. I have spent 15 years in disaster restoration project management assisting people during crisis in search of help. It is a high stress career with multiple moving parts; it requires a very similar mind and skill set that my military experience and training taught me to handle.
All Veterans considering getting out of the military need to understand that it is a muddy transition to the civilian world. Identify and invest into the meaningful relationships around you. On the days when you feel like you are just going through the motions and not reaching your fullest potential, focus on being the best spouse, parent and friend that you can be. If you don’t have an active plan in place, get your ducks in a row while you are still on active duty. Do not expect an exceptional job to fall into your lap, it is your responsibility to get school and/or a job opportunity lined up. Lastly, you must seek and rely on faith – build a foundation in something greater than yourself.