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Monday, October 1, 2012


I have done much thinking today on where I am in my military career, and to where I may be headed.  I have never been concerned about future deployments, or whatever my Country may ask of me to perform as a member of it's Armed Forces.  But reflecting today, and after spending a long day with my little girls yesterday (something that I rarely seem to have time for anymore) I seem to be at a crossroads.  I have less than a year left on my current contract to the military.  I have nearly 16 full years of service spread between the Army and Army National Guard, and now I wonder how much more of my time should be spent giving all I can give to my country when my children are growing up rapidly before my eyes.

When I was in the regular Army and our two oldest children were young, we spent many hours together, wrestling, watching movies, playing games and video games.  The only commitment I had during those years was the Army and my family, it was easy, it was manageable.  I remember those days fondly, everything seemed easy, there was little stress, there was just work, play, and relaxation.  Now, after many years of bearing with the military through this great transition into a high level of readiness for combat activity I find that nothing is easy anymore, and life has grown so much more complicated.  Our two youngest children have not had the luxury of me being home for wrestling and horseplay like the two oldest, it seemed most my time is absorbed in recovering from the weeks work schedule, which now includes a full time job as a neurosurgical physician assistant along with what many in our country believe is a part time, one weekend a month and two weeks out of the summer, job with the National Guard.  I am here to tell you, with the level of readiness we need to maintain, there is no such thing as a part time job in the Army National Guard.  It would not be possible to maintain the level required just acting on the limited time that we are allotted by our part time military careers.  The weekends seem to filter into the week, many tasks needing completed on our own time, after we arrive home form our civilian jobs, and at times, into the following weekend. 

This is not something for which I am bitter, I do it out of loyalty to my nation, loyalty to the men and women I serve with and the need to maintain the level of medical readiness that has been battered by multiple deployments for many, and the lingering effects of those deployments on many individuals psyche.  I think what I am getting at is that I have to weigh these facts carefully as I get closer to contemplating retention in the Army National Guard.  I want all my children to have fond memories of me, not memories where all they recall is the absence of their father.  I can only hope that when all is said and done they all will understand why I chose to wear the uniform and serve my country.  I hope that if they hold any animosity towards me for not being at every dance class, or sporting event, or school function that they can look back at this time in our Nation's history and at least have some understanding to why I was gone and how hard it was for me to know that with each day I spent away, a small part of our history as a family was left with a small void, a void I can never go back and fill.

Sometimes, I have great sorrow when thinking about this.  That sorrow is usually something that can be washed away with the knowledge that if I was not doing this, if there were not thousands of us doing this, the history of our individual families might be completely different and foreign to what we currently know.  Regardless of how many days I spend away, I know that when the mission ends, my family will be right where they were, waiting for me.  I know that I am not alone in these feelings, we as the United States Armed Forces are barreling down this path together, and the hardest it will ever be, is in the very moment that we are away.  But while we are away, we have the knowledge that together, as a unit, as a team, we can make it through anything, any time, any condition, any situation the enemy of our Country tries to toss our way. 

But individually, for the long term, choices must be made.......

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