I made my trip to Chicago MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in 1996, a few months after high school graduation. My life took on a new level of adventure and wonder that’s carried on ever since. I carry my Air Force experience with me every day.
I feel a connection with all veterans, and I believe it comes from a knowledge that we all understand a particular set of values: a “Service Before Self” philosophy that we’ve all allowed to take priority at some significant period of time during military experience. We’ve all made a commitment to put our own interests below that of the mission. Every one of us did this, and it’s a concept that took some doing for us to get our heads around.
But it’s not just about the commitment to the greater good- many of us were rewarded through service with significant positive character gains. For me, I am thankful today for courage.
My training and deployments pulled me from comfort at home to feelings of periodic anxiety & fear- and therein developed a kind of personal courage and trust in “the team” that affects me in very positive ways to this day. I believe I gained the ability to face- and take action on- everyday discomforts. It started in the military, and has grown ever since. I think a lot of vets feel this way.
On Veterans Day, I am especially aware of the connection Vets have- and want to high five all my brothers & sisters who’ve served or are still serving.