It’s been a long time since I’ve worn a military uniform, but I miss it everyday. The truth is that I will never do anything more important than serving in the Army. And it wasn’t like I was kicking down doors in Iraq and Afghanistan, I delivered mail and handled records. Still, I was so proud to do my part and every time there was good news in the United States and specifically back home here in Florida, it was a great feeling to know that I was doing my small part to make that happen.
Even now years later, I wake up and make my bed, I go and exercise and I set the agenda for my day. I keep my head and face shaved, try to keep a professional appearance and still call strangers sir and ma’am. When I see recruiters or military ceremonies, I get a little homesick.
I want to matter like that again.
And I’m not alone. There are veterans all over, and here in Orlando that feel the same way I do. This is because when you transition out of the Army, you’re kind of a soldier without orders. You have to lead yourself and sometimes we don’t make the best decisions, mostly because we’re not trained to. Some of us get lost. We drink too much and lose our jobs. We go homeless. Sadly, some of us will decide that life after the military isn’t worth living which is why veteran suicides are still too high.
Yesterday, I wrote about the solutions (story HERE). Leaders at the VA must be held accountable. They’re well compensated and are responsible for delivering care we earned by completing our service. And we must be better prepared for transition when we leave the military.
Today, is Veterans Day in Orlando. I’m happy to say that this has always been a fine community when it comes to honoring the men and women that have served.
For one day, Central Florida gives us a big handshake and hug and it feels good.
People are kind. Businesses grateful. And for just today, the problems don’t seem as tough. It gives us strength to get up and tackle those challenges and to continue to find our way.
For myself this year, I can say I’m well. I’m healthy. I’ve got a roof over my head. And I’ve got my family and friends.
And I have Orlando, the community I’ve known for almost my entire life. The military took me around the world and this is one of the best towns in that world.
I miss the military everyday, but I’m happy to be from Orlando. It’s why I wore the uniform to begin with.