Anywhere but here, (ABH). This was the real reason I joined the military. Oh, I was heavily influenced by the patriotic fever in the early 1980s – no doubt. I was in Junior Reserve Officer Training (JROTC) Corps in high school and ROTC in college. Both these facts made it easier for me to join, but those were not the ground truth reasons. As we approach another Veteran’s Day holiday, I believe it’s time for me to come clean. The years and distance from the young man who joined the Air Force over 33 years ago have provided clarity, and perhaps wisdom.
I was in college and truth be told, I wasn’t in a hurry to grow up. As long as I was in college, then there was no reason to grow up. I had a room with a bed, a meal card, and a structured schedule that drove my actions. Kind of like being at home. Eventually money got short and I had a hard choice to make. Take some time off of school and “grow up” or join the military. The small town where my parents were living didn’t have many opportunities, and I was eager to cut the lifeline and strike out on my own. So, I joined to be ABH.
What I found was the military was just another set of parents – albeit much stricter. They gave me a room with a bed, a meal card, and a structured schedule that drove my actions. The biggest difference is the military also gave me skills I never had, discipline, responsibility, and accountability. There was a sense of belonging I had not found anywhere else – and still haven’t. Even today there is a distinct difference between my veteran friends and those who never served. One of the many reasons the authors of this blog are such good friends – brothers from different mothers – is we have so many shared experiences. One of the authors once said, a good friend – a true friend, will answer a phone call from you when you are stranded a hundred miles from nowhere and in need of help with a simple, “I’m on my way”. I found those friends in uniform.