T Nation

Serving Your Country


#1

I've been thinking about this for awhile, my past, my present and while I don't regret my decision not to serve (as knowing myself it would have been a disaster for me or the person next to me that I would have gotten killed) but part of me wishes I could go back in time with the mindset and perspective I have now and served.

I'd like to hear from those that want to share about it. Thigns like:

Why you did, why you didn't?
What did it do for you?
What did you do for it?
Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?
Does it make you more patriotic?
Do you like it or hate it when people say "thank you"?
Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?

So on and so forth...

Thanks for those that wish to talk about it.


#2

I have been off the board and lurking for so long that I doubt anyone will remember me. I retired last year after roughly 9 years as a reservist and 19 years on active duty. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, but when it was time to go��it was time to go.

Why you did, why you didn’t?

I joined the reserves for college and then never really committed to going towards a specific degree. I went active duty because I was working 2 part-time jobs and not really happy at either one of them. I felt I needed a change and a new challenge.

What did it do for you?

It challenged me every day. It allowed me the freedom to push myself to my limit and go further than I thought I could. It also provided me with a decent living, money to put into investments, a skill-set that is still highly marketable, the ability to help my fellow man, and the direction I needed to finish one degree and continue in my current studies.

What did you do for it?

I did my best. I hope that I made a difference at some point.

Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?

Absolutely.

Does it make you more patriotic?

Nope.

Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”?

It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable

Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?

Of course there are some regrets. If you constantly push yourself you will always have a tinge of doubt or regret. You just settle with knowing you did the absolute best you could with the information at hand.

I hope this answers some of your questions. If I were you I wouldnâ??t spend a lot of time worrying over it. I would bet that I could find plenty of soldiers who wished that they had done things differently and had become accountants.
All the best

(I stay out of PWI even as a lurker. Reminds me of bad day-time TV. I just stumbled upon this)


#3

Thank you for your service.


#4

[quote]countingbeans wrote:
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, my past, my present and while I don’t regret my decision not to serve (as knowing myself it would have been a disaster for me or the person next to me that I would have gotten killed) but part of me wishes I could go back in time with the mindset and perspective I have now and served.

I’d like to hear from those that want to share about it. Thigns like:

Why you did, why you didn’t?
What did it do for you?
What did you do for it?
Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?
Does it make you more patriotic?
Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”?
Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?

So on and so forth…

Thanks for those that wish to talk about it. [/quote]

Tried to join Marines. Vision was too poor. Still feel twinges of guilt for not having served.


#5

[quote]countingbeans wrote:
Why you did?
[/quote]

I’ve always been more of a “live in the moment” type of person; although, that has changed as I’ve matured. When I was younger I spent very little time planning for the future. Back then I cared about a handful of things, mostly baseball, and that was it. While many 16-18 had already prepared for and applied to numerous colleges I had not.

Enter SSgt Huda, recruiter, USMC. About 20 minutes after meeting him I was ready to join. It wasn’t because of some deep seated patriotism, a burning desire to serve, or exception sales. It was because he offered me direction in my otherwise directionless life.

It was an easy decision and one I do not in any way regret.

[quote]
What did it do for you? [/quote]

Short answer: everything both good and bad.

It molded me at a time when I was very impressionable in ways I am still discovering 10 years later. It solidified who I am as a person. It burst the bubble I’d grown up in. It introduced me to people I would never have met from walks of life I didn’t know or understand. It unquestionably helped me to mature and become a man. A real man mind you.

[quote]
What did you do for it? [/quote]

Served without question. Went where they told me and did what they told me.

[quote]
Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?[/quote]

Yes.

[quote]
Does it make you more patriotic?[/quote]

I think so.

[quote]
Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”? [/quote]

I don’t like it.

[quote]
Regrets?[/quote]

Not serving a full 20 years or more. Not deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.


#6

Wish i would have done ROTC while in college.


#7

*I enlisted (Navy) during the Iran hostage crisis. I chose the Navy because I’m the Son, of a Son, of a sailor. I chose the military because when I looked around at all the adults I respected and considered roll-models, they all had a military background.
*usmccds423’s answer sums it up best “It molded me at a time when I was very impressionable in ways I am still discovering 35 years later. It solidified who I am as a person. It burst the bubble I’d grown up in. It introduced me to people I would never have met from walks of life I didn’t know or understand. It unquestionably helped me to mature and become a man.”
*Took my duties seriously; served honorably. Placed my command and men ahead of self.
*Yes
*Yes
*No
*No Regrets…Frigate Navy; logged almost 30,000 nautical miles; 12 countries; 26 foreign cities. Mother Nature’s majesty and fury…

Front row center


#8

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

Front row center
[/quote]

Pretty sure that is Burt Reynolds…


#9

Why you did, why you didn’t?

I joined the Marines during the Vietnam War out of patriotic duty, a search for meaning in life and adventure. My father sered as an Army Corpsman in Korea, my grandfather an Army infantryman in WWI. I guess it was a in my blood. I grew up in a small town in upstate New York (unlike most people’s view of NYS, upstate NY, at least when I was growing up there, was more like Texas than any other place I have lived: dairy farms, country music, Bible belt dominated) and the concept of being anti-war never occurred to me.

What did it do for you?

Increased maturity level (still learning new stuff every day at 60+ that makes me realize how stupid/immature/naive I was yesterday), Electronics Technician School, College Degree, Officer Candidate School, saw the world and lot of other stuff most people never see or experience.

What did you do for it?

A lot less than I got out of it!

Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?

Yes!

Does it make you more patriotic?

Yes!

Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”?

Like it.

Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?

Like everything in life wish I knew then what I know now and put more effort into the important things. I should have taken better advantage of the opportunities that were available and given back more than I did. My excuse is I was young, immature, stupid, naive, etc. I was very lucky to serve with a lot of really good people, who mentored me, gave me way more than I deserved and helped me succeed (of course, there were some jerks along the way too, like everywhere). I am eternally grateful to all those people and wish I could find them and thank them properly. As I moved up in the ranks I always tried to do the same for the guys under and around me. Every time you thank a serviceman you are doing it for me.


#10

Why: money for college, family tradition

What it did: taught discipline, learned structure

What I did: dependable contributor

Do it again: yes, but differently

More patriotic: of course

Thank yous: like it

Regrets: no deployment, left early


#11

My inability to serve in the military is, and will remain, the biggest disappointment of my life. Since the tragic events of September 11th, the only thing I wanted was to serve the nation as a soldier. Young as I was, I came to understand that this unfolding “War on Terror” would become my generation’s war; a Manichean worldwide struggle which I felt obliged to contribute to.

I recited the Soldier’s Creed, the Infantryman’s Creed, and the Ranger Creed daily. I studied military history, strategy, and small unit tactics assiduously. Upon graduating high school, I began the process to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment - the Army’s elite light infantry special operations force. I maxed the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) while being able to squat, bench press, and deadlift a 1,200+ raw total at 165 lbs.

I registered a 97/99 on the Armed Services Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Unfortunately, medical maladies ended my incipient military career before it could formally begin. Even though chance and circumstance foiled my ambitions, I still occasionally feel deep pangs of guilt for not being able to directly contribute to what I view as a patriotic obligation. I resolved to serve in another way, and have since worked toward my goal of serving warfighters and national security policymakers as an analyst.

I retain the deepest respect for our service members, especially those who serve in the combat arms, and would consider it my life’s honor to be able to contribute to their charge of protecting and advancing the national interest.


#12

[quote]sjoconn wrote:
I have been off the board and lurking for so long that I doubt anyone will remember me. I retired last year after roughly 9 years as a reservist and 19 years on active duty. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, but when it was time to go��it was time to go.

Why you did, why you didn’t?

I joined the reserves for college and then never really committed to going towards a specific degree. I went active duty because I was working 2 part-time jobs and not really happy at either one of them. I felt I needed a change and a new challenge.

What did it do for you?

It challenged me every day. It allowed me the freedom to push myself to my limit and go further than I thought I could. It also provided me with a decent living, money to put into investments, a skill-set that is still highly marketable, the ability to help my fellow man, and the direction I needed to finish one degree and continue in my current studies.

What did you do for it?

I did my best. I hope that I made a difference at some point.

Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?

Absolutely.

Does it make you more patriotic?

Nope.

Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”?

It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable

Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?

Of course there are some regrets. If you constantly push yourself you will always have a tinge of doubt or regret. You just settle with knowing you did the absolute best you could with the information at hand.

I hope this answers some of your questions. If I were you I wouldnâ??t spend a lot of time worrying over it. I would bet that I could find plenty of soldiers who wished that they had done things differently and had become accountants.
All the best

(I stay out of PWI even as a lurker. Reminds me of bad day-time TV. I just stumbled upon this)
[/quote]

I remember you, you had a different avi didn’t you?


#13

[quote]Bismark wrote:
My inability to serve in the military is, and will remain, the biggest disappointment of my life. [/quote]

The older I get the more I feel this way.

Looking back, I know I made the right choice in not. I considered it, a lot. I am partially color blind so no idea if that would have limited me beyond ruling out the Air Force (so I’m told). My eye sight sucks too though, so who knows.

But as I get older, I look back at a dumbass kid who knew everything and wish, often, I wasn’t so “smart”.


#14

[quote]countingbeans wrote:
But as I get older, I look back at a dumbass kid who knew everything and wish, often, I wasn’t so “smart”.
[/quote]

So true, the more i look back, the more i wish i could beat the shit out of my younger self. In fact, if i were to meet an 18yr old version of myself today, i would probably want to shoot him in the face. The military probably would have changed all of that.


#15

[quote]Aggv wrote:

[quote]countingbeans wrote:
But as I get older, I look back at a dumbass kid who knew everything and wish, often, I wasn’t so “smart”.
[/quote]

So true, the more i look back, the more i wish i could beat the shit out of my younger self. In fact, if i were to meet an 18yr old version of myself today, i would probably want to shoot him in the face. The military probably would have changed all of that. [/quote]

I would beat the shit out of myself, and almost got it a couple times in college, lol. I said some of the most ignorant and dumb things I’ve ever said in my life when referring to the military, our country and particularly Vietnam…

The worst is, my uncle served in Vietnam. He got really, really drunk one night and told us he was the dude they handed the pistol and flash light to and went diving in the tunnels. (Lord knows if it’s true, but it really seemed so as he talked about it.) He’ll talk about the war if you ask, and are too young to really know better. The shame I feel for the things I said. I wish I could get a class roster for one class in particular and email an apology to each and every one.

I haven’t really gotten the chance to apologize to my uncle, mainly because I’m a coward, but the timing hasn’t been right either. I don’t live around there anymore. And I’m not really feeling the facebook message, he deserves more.


#16

[quote]countingbeans wrote:

[quote]Aggv wrote:

[quote]countingbeans wrote:
But as I get older, I look back at a dumbass kid who knew everything and wish, often, I wasn’t so “smart”.
[/quote]

So true, the more i look back, the more i wish i could beat the shit out of my younger self. In fact, if i were to meet an 18yr old version of myself today, i would probably want to shoot him in the face. The military probably would have changed all of that. [/quote]

I would beat the shit out of myself, and almost got it a couple times in college, lol. I said some of the most ignorant and dumb things I’ve ever said in my life when referring to the military, our country and particularly Vietnam…

The worst is, my uncle served in Vietnam. He got really, really drunk one night and told us he was the dude they handed the pistol and flash light to and went diving in the tunnels. (Lord knows if it’s true, but it really seemed so as he talked about it.) He’ll talk about the war if you ask, and are too young to really know better. The shame I feel for the things I said. I wish I could get a class roster for one class in particular and email an apology to each and every one.

I haven’t really gotten the chance to apologize to my uncle, mainly because I’m a coward, but the timing hasn’t been right either. I don’t live around there anymore. And I’m not really feeling the facebook message, he deserves more. [/quote]

That is pretty normal, imo. Some of the shit I’ve heard college kids say would piss me off to no end or would be down right laughable. I had to walk out of one particular class when large percentage of the class thought Al fucking Qaeda as more powerful than the U.S.


#17

Preface: I served 6 years in the Unites States Air Force; Honorably discharged

[quote]

Why you did, why you didn’t?[/quote]

Reason 1:
Wanted to be the first in my family (on my dad’s side) to go to college and couldn’t see paying it for it out of pocket or taking out loans. This was the answer.

Reason 2:
Didn’t want to fall into bad behavioral patterns such as shirking responsibilities and smoking weed all day with my loser friends (we were losers … a lot of them have grown up and turned out ok … some not so much). Had to separate myself from that environment.

Reason 3:
Wanted to travel and see things on my own. Needed to grow the fuck up.

[quote]
What did it do for you? [/quote]

Aside from my parents doing their best to raise me to have respect and discipline, I just didn’t have any for the most part. I didn’t “get” the real world or what it meant to truly work hard to achieve something. I was an average student in high school and never really tried. The Air Force whipped me into shape and improved my mental toughness. Opened my eyes to the real world and what it took to succeed.

[quote]
What did you do for it?/[quote]

Gave my best and went over and above what was expected of me - something I had really never done in my life up until this point. Helped create and organize junior enlisted clubs at two of the duty stations I was at. Became a PTL and helped a few senior ranking (enlisted) members retain enlistment by helping them meet training goals.

[quote]
Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?[/quote]

I wouldn’t just go back, I’d do a lot more than I did. I’d volunteer for a lot of extra duty and experience more of what the military had to offer. I’d get a lot more schooling done as well and put myself in as many leadership opportunities as I could. I tend to gravitate towards these roles as it is; learning from these people can only help me succeed.

[quote]
Does it make you more patriotic?[/quote]

No, it doesn’t. It DID give me a better understanding of what it means to be American and a better love for my fellow humans, both foreign and domestic.

[quote]
Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”?[/quote]

It’s very awkward. Most of the time I feel like people are saying it because they THINK they should. Not because they really want to say it. It was a very personal decision and experience to serve, for me. After I moved back home after separation, a good friend of mine (I was probably a year removed from separation and kind of having trouble adjusting to how different civilians are compared to servicemen and women) invited me to his house to celebrate Memorial Day and watch my town’s parade from the top of his street. I felt very uncomfortable with this (at the time) and flaked out. I felt it wasn’t just uncomfortable for myself, but for everyone else who was there. I didn’t like the attention.

My attitudes changed a bit now since I’ve been out for 8 years (jeezus … I can’t believe it’s been that long).

[quote]
Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?[/quote]

I wish I hadn’t been caught underage drinking and got an Article 15 when I was a young airmen. Moving past that, I was nominated for Airmen of the year a few years after and probably could have achieve a lot more had I not been young and dumb.

Again, wish I would have volunteered for a few deployments. Wish I hadn’t been as selfish as I was.

It’s been probably the single most positive experiences in my life and has helped shape my work ethic and general world outlook about multiple issues. I wouldn’t be where I am today, who I am, had I not joined and that’s something I tell everyone who asks these general types of questions.

I truly and deeply respect and appreciate every serviceman and woman for putting themselves out there with the knowledge that they are putting their lives on the line. I’m proud to have served and I, quite honestly, think most young people should experience this if nothing but to gain perspective, direction and discipline - I would probably be aimless and have not accomplished anything had I not joined.


#18

Why you did, why you didn’t?

It took three tries but I finally cleared medical to be able to enlist in the Army Reserves and attend College ROTC. My internal injuries that I had suffered from a motorcycle wreck when I was 15 kept me out of active duty.

What did it do for you?

Paid for college, learned I could do a lot more then what I thought my limits were.

What did you do for it?

Armored Calvary Scout - 19D, US Army Reserves 6 years

Would you go back and do it again knowing what you know now?

Yes.

Does it make you more patriotic?

I was already patriotic. I did learn that our freedom was not free. I trained and served with a lot of Vietnam Veterans.

Do you like it or hate it when people say “thank you”?

I respectfully accept it.

Regrets? Things you wish you did differently?

I should have taken every training opportunity offered. I would have had Air Assault and Airborne wings.


#19

@ beans and biz

I feel exactly the same way. Don’t feel inclined to go into why I didn’t serve. But it’s one of my greatest regrets.

"Johnson: “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” - James Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson


#20

Seems appropriate:

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.”
-Ronald Reagan