I am squandering time off this Veteran's Day scrolling through the many posts by friends and family in celebration and gratitude of military service. It's not hard in the United States to have a connection with someone who served - a grandparent, parent, sibling or family friend. I love seeing the pictures of them all.
Why do people serve? Since 1973, when the draft ended, the US military has been an all-volunteer force. Some come from a love a service, a desire to do more. Some volunteer as a way of finding steady work or to pay for school (that would be me). Some are in and out in a few years, and some stay. I had no plans one way or another - nothing beyond paying for school - yet I stayed for 24 years. Why? What is it about being in uniform that compelled me to stay?
It was the challenge, for sure. It was doing unusual things in unusual places to help the greater good, making the most mundane task more interesting. It was being part of a community with tight connections. And it was more than the airmen in uniform that fueled my service. It was all the unsung heroes, like the day care providers who loved on my kids, the neighbors who let the dogs out when there were long days, the Green Bean barista who provided triple espresso chai lattes at all hours in a combat zone, and most importantly, my husband and family, and my "made" family, who stepped up and filled the gaps. So many times. Countless, really.
While I am enjoying the slower pace of life as a retiree (ha! not that slow lately) I am incredibly thankful for those that continue to serve, and thankful that the best part of serving, my battle buddies, I get to keep forever.