My family will tell you that I miss the Army everyday.
No matter what I’ve done in Orlando politics with media or different campaigns, nothing comes anywhere near the kind of importance and satisfaction I had during my time in the military.
Why did I get out? Curiosity. I joined not long after I was legally allowed to. I didn’t experience an adult civilian life until my mid 20s.
When I got out, I had the recession waiting for me, along with poor transition services (still a problem) and VA opportunities that provide very little opportunity for veterans.This is the major push that got me into politics in the first place.
I tried to get back in, but I was too fat. The military also began cutting it’s numbers, greatly tightening it’s restrictions for taking people.
So, I was driving along in Seminole county and saw the recruiting station. Couldn’t hurt to have a conversation right?
After all, even though I’m 40, I’m still very physically capable. I workout every 9 out of 10 days. I can run a 5K. I can lift heavy. My recovery time has suffered, but I’m still quite durable. I can hang.
What are they going to tell me? I’m too old.
Well, I walked in there and the Non Commissioned Officer that greeted me was great. Even though I was older, my prior service rewinded the age requirements. In their eyes, I was a 32 year old kid.
I thought “Great! Let’s schedule the physical. After that, swear me in and ship me out.” There was even a chance I could keep my old rank.
So, I went to take the body composition test. Just to be sure.I was in much better shape than the last time I tried to get in and the standards become more forgiving as you get older. I got this.
Still. Too fat.
Well, they didn’t call me that. They’re not that brutal.
“You’re at 235. We need you at 185. Or you have to drop your body fat percentage to 24%. You’re at 30%.”
You see, the Army measures your body fat with a tape test. They measure the circumference of your neck and then your belly. If the numbers don’t fall right, you fail.
I was defeated. I thanked the good Sergeant for his time and walked out the door. Old, fat and defeated.
Now here’s the thing. I could lose 20 or even 30 pounds. But 50, you start losing muscle mass and if you’re not careful you could get sick. It’s also not a short journey. To lose it properly, it takes time.
And then I still have to pass the physical and I was advised something else could come up during the process that could disqualify me. There were no guarantees.
I’m still going to try to lose some of the weight. Who knows? Maybe I get down to 220, and it becomes 210. Then it becomes 200 and all of the sudden we’ve got a ballgame.
And then I can keep trying to make things better for veterans on the outside. It’s been a mixed month. The VA kicked our elected officials out of our medical facilities including the one here in Orlando (story HERE) but at the same time, thousands went to the funeral of a vet that had no immediate family around to celebrate his life (story HERE).
And I’m also not a cursed man. There are worse things than running your mouth and television and radio about politics. I’m still a very hard worker and can make a lot happen when I need to.
I’ll still miss the Army everyday, but I can still keep playing a small part to make the world around me better.