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At 18 I was too good for the Army; I was going to college and making something of myself. Twenty years later I have graduated from college with two bachelor's degrees in architecture, post baccalaureate and a minor with 11 years of work experience. I had met a wonderful woman I wanted to marry who was in the middle of a divorce with two great kids. Her oldest son had medical issues which would require major surgery every six months that was going to financially handicap us. I got married and joined the Army angry at the sperm donor for not taking care of his kids. I had to ship to BCT as soon as possible for my son to get the medical treatment he needed so I picked the only MOS available, withdrew my application for OCS and cancelled my Army band audition. I was in BCT running against kids that were out of high school or didn't know what they wanted to do with their life, which I was old enough to be their dad, when I realized I am blessed. If the sperm donor did what a man was supposed to do, then I wouldn't have three blessings to go home to. Also I never would have met or talked to most of these kids.
I was not present for my son's surgery, but the Army took care of my family. If a 7-year-old boy can go through major spinal surgery and be brave, then his dad can do BCT and AIT. He never complained about his pain, but was proud to tell doctors and nurses that his daddy is in the Army. I graduated from BCT, but was a holdover needing surgery for a hernia before my drill sergeant would allow me to proceed to AIT. This only made me realize the sacrifices my wife and children were making when I signed and took the oath to serve. We are a close-knit family, so the Army is a challenge we have learned to adapt to, not accept, but cherish what time we are given. Since then my son's surgeries are like clockwork every six months and unless we say something, no one would know anything was wrong with my son. As a family, we participated in the Race For A Soldier in Gig Harbor where I ran my first half marathon in 2 hours and 17 minutes. My boys in their Army APFT uniform and my wife completed the 2-mile run. My wife completed the run holding our 15-pound, 4-month-old baby boy, who was born the week when my unit was supposed to deploy. Now I am preparing for the Soldier of The Year Competition representing my company. I was nicknamed Wildman. Those who know me know that you don't mess with me, my family, my platoon or my company. The Army is my family, and all we have is each other.
So in four weeks I will be 40 years old serving my country with men and women and boys and girls, but instead of retiring from the Army or continuing to work as an architect, I am looking to re-enlist in the Army and go to the promotion board to be a sergeant, a leader and mentor others to be as good as and better than me. This is only the first step.
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