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I started my military career as a commissioned officer after I had been a critical care nurse for several years. It had been a wish for years to serve my country to follow in my father's and my many uncles' footsteps; they all had served during various conflicts and my grandmother was so proud and justifiably had bragging rights that they all returned home safe and sound. No one in my generation had opted to serve — it was quite mortifying. My father was quite clear he served so his children didn't have to; made perfect sense to me, so it was now time for me to do the same. I had three beautiful sons. I thought my proudest day was when I was sworn in; later I would learn more was to come. I cannot put into words the power of emotions putting on the uniform was for me; I was connected to my father, my uncles, my grandfather and the whole brotherhood of the service men and women who loved this country. I got T-shirts for the boys that said, "My mommy wears combat boots." The guys took them on tours of Black Hawks; my littlest was in awe.
Only things weren't so good at home. ... Eventually I realized the best way to serve my country was to raise my boys to be strong men; it was the hardest choice to take off the uniform and would leave regrets to this day. Years later I can now smile; I did serve Uncle Sam well, and I did get the proudest days. My two sons now wear the uniform; they have kept up the family tradition.
Many years later, I remarried — yes, a soldier — and now I am a military wife and I will tell you I will take being a soldier over a spouse of a soldier any day. I know all about training for tasks and deployment readiness. I never worried about them, but the fear of the unknown is so tough it's the lack of control that kills me. At one time I had two sons, my husband and daughter-in-law all deployed at the same time. I was on a first-name basis with the postmaster.
I have two more children and now my daughter is going to follow in my footsteps and wants to be an officer; she dreams of giving orders to her big brothers and dear dad. Yes, I still like to give orders and I still will pull rank, which drives my husband crazy — he reminds me frequently I'm not a soldier anymore — but I still have a warrior's heart!