It’s been one of the more difficult decisions of my life. For nine years, I’ve served the Army National Guard with every thing I have. I’ve been to the majority of the Army bases across the country for training, conducted actual operations in Nicaragua, Kuwait and of course, Iraq. But the time has come for me to get out. My ETS date is in October, and now, the retention types and fellow soldiers are telling me that me getting out is a great loss to the Army.
To be honest, when I hear these words, it hurts. At times, it feels like I am betraying my soldiers and country for opting to no longer be a soldier. My decision is not based off of money, passion or disgust for the military. Rather, I just feel it’s time to have free weekends, a full summer and no deployment looming.
Part of me wants to continue climbing the rank ladder, train soldiers and retire. But that desire only comes from serving others, not myself. When I look at the reasons I would stay, none of them are about me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a selfish guy. My life is storied with helping others to the point that I often ignore my needs to benefit my fellow man. For once in my life, I am truly making a decision that is just about me.
I don’t need the money, albeit the offered $15,000 bonus is tempting. Professionally, I believe I’ve gained everything the Army can offer… I’ve led soldiers in combat, strategized and implemented good plans. And I certainly have taken away the most valuable skill the Army gives young people – honor.
However, it’s time for me to build my life as a civilian, to finish this book and maybe one day, raise a family. One thing is for sure… whatever becomes of my life, I will always look back on my nine years of service and one year in Iraq as my greatest accomplishment.
So, I thank the Army for all the good years and the chance to serve my country. The Lord knows that I wouldn’t be the same had I never joined.