Nov 12th

Last week while discussing upcoming Veterans Day events, a friend asked me why I joined the Military. I’ve been asked this many times over the years. I usually answer with one of a few vague, yet honest answers. “My father was military, as was his father.” “It’s a good job with good benefits.” “I wanted to serve my country.” While these answers are all true, none of them readily came to my mind this time.

I found myself reflecting on this question with a little more depth and clarity.

Why had I joined? When I was younger, I wanted to serve. My father served 30 years in the Air Force. I had dreams of attending the Air Force Academy or becoming a Marine. But by the time I was of age to enlist, my youthful ambitions had been replaced by adolescent strife and cynicism. Gone was the desire to serve my country. Gone too was the desire to be anything like my father.

Much later in life I found myself recently divorced and newly non-Catholic. My world had been rocked. My relationships with friends and family had all been rattled. Bottom line, I felt alone. Not the loneliness of solitude, as I filled my time with and space with many people, but a loneliness in spirit. I wanted something more. Something substantial. I wanted to connect with people in a way that my marriage, family and religion had alluded to, yet ultimately failed to provide. I wanted to be more like my father. When fate put two Navy recruiters in front of me with the promise of brotherhood, I embraced it. Their squared away dress blues with a chest full of medals didn’t hinder their pitch. I was sold.

I learned many things from my time in the Navy, things that weren’t clear during my service. I learned that I was no longer that fuck up kid. I grew up. I found purpose. I learned first hand that there was something greater than me. I learned self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. As a recruiter, that I learned interviewing skills that serve me well today in client therapy. It was a truly humbling experience that I couldn’t have experienced anywhere else.

Why did I join the military? I suppose I was meant to. Did I find the connection I was looking for? I did. Not the connection I thought I was looking for, but one I needed. I found a connection with great, selfless men and women. I will always have this unspoken bond with other veterans. I am grateful for the lessons learned and skills acquired. But I am still searching for more connectedness. I still yearn for a less lonely life. Now I search for this connection within. I work to manifest it outwardly.

Thank you all for allowing me to serve. Fair winds and following seas.

8 Comments to "The Veteran’s Collective"

  • Kelly Bellerose
    November 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing these personal insights. Wonderful reading.

    1. SeanP
      November 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks Kelly. I’m a bit rusty, but plan to share more thought s on more topics. Stay tuned.

  • Brad
    November 16, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Great insights Sean and thank you for your service to our country.

    1. SeanP
      November 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      Thank you, Brad. It was tough at times, but not nearly as tough as it is for some who serve. I’ll take the lessons learned.

  • Marjie Brown
    November 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Love this back story. Thanks for sharing. Keep writing! :)

    1. SeanP
      November 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks Marjie! That’s the plan. More writing in the works.

  • Robin
    December 7, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Moving story Sean. Thanks for sharing.

    1. SeanP
      December 8, 2012 at 1:48 am

      Thanks Robin. I appreciate it.

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