All good things must come to an end at some point. This is the inevitability of life and a truth that is experienced more than some would wish. I’ve been meaning to write this for quite some time, and about now is suitable for me. I have very high aspirations, and I dream as big as possible when I do. I have been blessed with a strong intellect and decent health, as well as being born into a privileged country. At an early age I was preparing to become president of the United States by writing, “I have a dream” speeches. Granted the speeches weren’t well thought out and written in multiple neon colors, but what can you really expect from a 6 year old kid that thinks he will be president one day?
I never had a silver spoon in my mouth growing up, and I never had the perfect family dynamic. To a certain extent, the saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” definitely applies to me and my journey. At times I wish that things were different, or easier, but then I think about who I’ve become and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t want to change a thing. An overwhelming feeling of nostalgia took me while I was on military duty. The military can bring this feeling about quite regularly, but for me it’s the feeling when you’re about to leave the place you’ve been at for a while. I had the feeling when I left basic at Fort Leonard Wood and also when I left advanced training at Fort Huachuca. I always miss the people that I meet, and the experiences that were had. I have many good memories and have formed several great friendships from these times.
Now the feeling of nostalgia will be the same as I leave my unit in Colorado Springs to no longer participate in the United States Army. I will be finishing the 6 year requirement on my 6/2 contract. That means 6 years active, 2 inactive. I have been privileged to be a part of such a unique unit and have met some very interesting people. I will always hold a sweet spot in my heart for my friends that I’ve gained as well as the experiences we had during the past 5 years. I’ve learned a lot during the time and even though my military plan didn’t pan out as I had hoped, it has really helped propel me into a successful career.
I’m unsure if I should be upset about things not going the way I had planned or happy. When I graduated from Military Intelligence school as Honor Graduate, there seemed to be no limit to my potential. If you asked me then if I was staying in the military for retirement, I might have said yes. Clearly things change.
Upon returning home to beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado with high hopes and expectations, I went on orders immediately. I was immediately doing interesting work with good people and slotted third in line for a deployment. As time went on, I started having difficulties with my health. I developed plantar fasciitis in 2009. I began to be unable to pass the run portion of my physical fitness tests, and went through a lot of issues with military health insurance paying for the care I needed. I had an awesome commander at the time who understood the situation and didn’t flag me because of the medical extenuating circumstances. The term “Flagging” is essentially when a unit marks a soldier as an unsatisfactory participant and removes them from receiving certain benefits, in my case, it would end up being tuition assistance and prohibited from advancement in rank. I was also up for a promotion to sergeant which was contingent on a memorandum for my physical fitness and medical issue so that I could be promoted. Needless to say, that memorandum never happened.
My deployment ended up getting cancelled to some issues overseas where they removed the position in the team that I would have worked on. I then was put in a predicament of the fact that I was a reservist having to get orders every 30 days, or put in for an even longer time period, or go back to school. I volunteered for a deployment, and ended up getting bumped for one reason or another, so instead of continually to deal with all of that I moved back to Denver and went to school full time.
Once I got back in school, I really started to enjoy learning and the entire overall environment. I went to my drills and annual training requirements and enjoyed doing combat based activities but dreaded the egos, inefficiency, powerpoint slides, and online training. I enjoyed the few people that made drill tolerable, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to meet these people and hopefully will maintain friendships for as long as we all live. I loved being a soldier, I loved doing things that most people will never experience in their life, however the wiser I became, and the more my health deteriorated, I realized that my goals were shifting from alignment with the military. However, I do recognize that the military helped build a great foundation of discipline and mental acuity that will help me in every aspect of my life. I have learned how to remain calm in crisis situations and react with sound mind in these situations.
At the end of 2011, I finally gave in to my back pain that I had been experiencing since 2008 and found out that I have spinal disc desiccation, which happens to be the beginning stages of spinal arthritis as it is a degenerative issue. I was never really “out of shape”, but I was according to the army standard. I would have enough points to pass all three events, but that was because my push up and sit up scores were so high that they made up for the fact that I would have to hobble for 2 miles.
Ended up getting a new commander, and he wasn’t so keen on providing the same “deal” that I had with my previous commander and ended up “flagging” me. My tuition assistance got cut while I was still in school finishing up my junior and senior level courses. Battling through my own stubbornness, I eventually put in the paperwork for a permanent medical profile that would allow me to take an alternate test for cardiovascular strength. With that permanent profile I was authorized to ride a specially designed fitness bicycle for 10 miles instead of run for 2 miles. Needless to say upon my first test with the bike instead of running, I passed it with flying colors. The best part was this was now late 2013; I was unflagged, but had had already graduated college, missed a promotion, and was fed up with the army and had very little required time left.
As a young man with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, a stable career at Kaiser Permanente, and multiple business opportunities on the side, I came to the conclusion that I would not want to stay enlisted. It became known that my physical limitations would keep me from becoming an officer, and my experience limitations would bar me from becoming a warrant officer. I also started to drift away from a strong feeling of nationalism which originally helped me join the military. I don’t know what we are fighting for, I didn’t know who my enemy is, and I can’t align any of my goals with any missions. The nail in the coffin may have been that they wouldn’t help with tuition on my masters program until I had 10 years in the military.
I’m not sure when it will really hit me, as I don’t feel like it has yet, but I’ll miss being a soldier. I’ll miss upholding the standards that it means to be a soldier. I’ll miss what it used to mean to be a soldier. I’ll miss the people. To them though, this isn’t good bye, it’s only till we meet again. Thank you to everyone who has played a role in my army tenure. Now it’s time to refocus and start building a civilian legacy. Thanks for reading.