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I have a love-hate relationship with my service.
So much so, that as many times as I’m thanked for it, I still don’t have an appropriate response.
My mind instantly defaults to the countless times I’ve bitched and complained about early wake ups, freezing cold training exercises, or any number of days spent sitting in the sun waiting for an inspection.
We join for as many different reasons as there are soldiers. To serve our country, to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, or simply to find purpose and direction—to become servants of our nation.
In return we are gifted brotherhood, health care, education, and invaluable life experience. But alongside the benefits of service are those things for which we never asked.
Sleeplessness, loss, bouts of depression and anxiety. Constant reintegration with family, absence, and return.
I’ve served long enough to be thankful for all I’ve received but also to realize that it’s time to start taking back.
Time to reach down toward those pieces of my soul I’ve kept in the shadows for survival and shine light into the darkness.
Time to breathe. To be present. To show compassion for myself.
To serve my soul.