Thursday, May 3, 2012

Twenty Years On A Piece Of Paper

We are really winding down in the military phase of our transition to civilian life.  My Husband goes on terminal leave in four days.  That signifies the end of his time at work.  From that point until he is actually out of the military this summer, he has time to try to find a job, and get us moved, so that we can begin our lives all over again.
Today, though, he was able to complete one very monumental piece of the entire retirement process.  He picked up his DD214. This is the form that he will use for the rest of his life to identify his military service for anything and everything.  He as been working on it for a bit, ensuring that everything is correct from his records, etc.  He went in to pick it up, found a couple of small errors, like my name as usual, and had them corrected.  As soon as they were done, he was handed a piece of paper that means everything at the moment.  It may not seem big, but believe me, it is.  He called to tell me he had it.  It was kind of a sad moment.  "The last twenty years of my life, on one piece of paper" he said.
I know this has been hard on him.  Even though he has a very hard job, something that is full of the kind of stress you can not imagine unless you are there, and this is a hard life for us as a family, he loves what he does.  He is the kind of guy you want going into the military.  He is dedicated to his job.  He is a bit of a perfectionist when it matters.  He loves to fly.  He is fantastic at what he does, but, he has been in for 20 years, and even though his command wanted him to stay, even though they requested a waiver for him, because of all the military budget cuts, etc, he was forced to retire.
I was hurtful.  Even more so when you see some of the morons who are left in, who are allowed to move up because they kiss the right rear end, even though they don't know their own from a hole in the ground.
He moved on, though.  I think he made peace with the idea of retirement, as much as he can, once he saw how much we missed him, and began to focus on a life with his family.  Even being a police officer, which is what he wants to do, and being gone as much as they are, he will still get more time with us, than if he were to deploy for 8 months at a time again.  That really helps.
No matter what, though, this is a major move, and a major transition in his life.  He went into the military when he was 18, before he had even graduated from high school, under a delayed entry program.  This life is all he has know.  Now, at the age of 38, they reduced everything he has worked for, everything he has accomplished down to one piece of paper and handed it to him on his way out the door.
Its hard to live this life, but in many ways, it is harder to leave it.  I'm really not sure what all life will hold for our future.  I'm not even sure what state we are going to live in by this fall right now, but I do know that i have I hopes.  I hope he find a career that he loves as much as this one.  I hope he has another twenty years or more doing something else the he is so wonderful at, dedicated to, and that allows him to fulfill his potential like this one did.