When I was 20 (yes, a long time ago), I enlisted in the Ohio Army National Guard on a whim (yes, a whim) one weekend during winter break when I was in college. I went through basic training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama during an obnoxiously hot summer, running my 2-miles in 15:13 (my shining moment) while just barely passing my M16 Qualifications (and the phrase "Born to Miss" was forever etched onto my reflective strap on my kevlar). I developed a healthy fear of First Sergeants, was terrified of my female Drill Sergeant, and I would [im]practically hyperventilate every time I saw anyone wearing shiny metal. A Full Bird (Colonel) would nearly make me wet my pants.
Here I am years later wearing the shiny metal. Sure, it's not a bird (nor is it likely to ever become one, although I am working toward my Captain's promotion), but I earned it. However, I also have a great realization that First Sarg or nearly any of the NCOs (non-commissioned officers) are a great resource --- their extensive service time provides a wealth of knowledge and they truly know how the Army works and how to get tasks completed. They are fiercely protective of their soldiers and always seem to be tireless, no matter how long the misson.
But no matter what, I still have that healthy fear of the metal bird. Each time I report for duty at post, I have to meet with the Hospital Nurse Administrator - who is almost always a Colonel. As I prepare to meet her, and it almost always is a 'her' - nursing is a female-dominated profession! - I get a bit queasy at the thought. I don't think that will ever change.
As I travel daily to post on this annual training at Ft. Carson, Colorado, whether in uniform or civilian clothing, I have to pass through the MP-guarded gate and provide my photo ID. Here I am 15 years later, looking at the faces of young enlisted at the gate. And being saluted TO. And oh, does it bring back memories. I was once that fresh-faced barely-an-adult soldier. I remember the feeling of pride and the snap of the salute when I saw an officer, eager to prove myself (even if I did feel queasy each time I saw metal). The feeling of being a part of something bigger, something better than myself. It's moments like this that I remember the Army Values. No matter how young or old; no matter if enlisted, officer or civilian...these are values that speak to all of us.
These are the values I would teach my children even if I had never served as a part of the armed forces.
Tonight I am missing my family very much. I've been gone less than a week and I really miss the kiddos. I didn't expect that it would be so hard leaving the baby - but he's just six months old, and I've never spent a night away from him. I didn't anticipate that I'd feel this way, being a seasoned-veteran mom of eight years! And I miss my husband. This separation seems never-ending sometimes (even though he is going to be home for Leave in just 2 weeks!) and while the distance from Baghadad to Colorado isn't significantly further than the distance from Baghdad to Ohio, it's harder to get to talk with him because of the time difference and my work schedule at the base hospital. And, oh, I just miss him.
I hope that as they get older, my kids will understand why I serve in the military, even if it is just part-time. It is important to give of yourself and your time to something that is truly bigger and worthwhile. I hope they grow to appreciate the job my husband does, even though it does take him away from us often. I hope they appreciate the world and all it has to offer. And I hope they follow those seven seemingly simple Army Values, whether or not they choose to serve in military.
Welcome to the Wandering Drays!
Not all who wander are lost...
Welcome to my blog dedicated to my family and our crazy foreign service life. Never content with staying in one place, we are excited to share our journey. We've survived two unaccompanied tour (Baghdad 2010-2011 and Baghdad again in 2015-2016), multiple TDYs, and enjoyed a two-year family assignment in Cairo, Egypt. The fab hubby is currently learning Turkish for our next assignment...Istanbul, Turkey! We leave for Turkey sometime in summer 2017. I write about what I know. Which is mainly kids, tween drama, gross pets, dealing with lots of government info, our moving adventures, being a nurse, yoga, running, living on too-little sleep, and an addiction to coffee lattes. I hope you'll enjoy this glimpse into our lives.