If you ask the average person, doing your time is enough, but there’s a real need to put family second. The world is always on the verge of being set ablaze. Because some people want to watch the world burn and put their stake in the ashes. As someone who has done some service, I struggle with the idea it’s completely inadequate. 9/11 was an introduction to a war that Americans were unsure existed. It awakened me to a new world where military service felt necessary.

Service and feeling as though I’ve contributed haunts me. My question is this: is an operator in an elite unit’s service more valuable than a mayor, or a member of the city council? Are superhero films and video games creating a myth of glory and service that overshadows public service? At 90, George H.W. Bush reflected and celebrated a life of duty. When we look at people who have accomplished much, their PT score and shooting ability rarely comes up. Individuals who are accomplished are often lauded to the highest degree. That’s an opportunity for you if you haven’t served at war to still do great things for the nation and your community.

There’s a constant threat from extremists around the world. There’s a nation to protect and more work than can be done. There are more places to be than ever before. But, it can consume your life and destroy a family. Your children may suffer and not serve themselves. But a good family life is a luxury we enjoy because we protect the homeland. It’s tough not to be a part of that, I think.

But of equal importance is for public servants to navigate towards politics and most important, local politics. I’ve mulled over options to return to where I came from, to contribute. Local papers have disappeared, and local corruption is on the rise. Public school funding is suffering across the nation. These schools will produce the majority of our civil servants and national security professionals, unless we do want our government to be led solely by those fortunate enough to attend private schools and Ivy League colleges.

Also worth considering, if you want to play a critical role in foreign policy, consider that many leaders in Congress and the government began at the local level. All politics is local. In a generation of people who expect what they want when they want it, it’s time to realize that the greatest works take a lifetime. And I can still dedicate myself to something else and destroy my family life in politics helping people who can’t help themselves. Fittingly, I can retain the traditional hectic personal life.

To anyone and everyone on your way out and aren’t sure why, but, you know you don’t want to discontinue your service and connection to the world forever. Considering doing what you did abroad, helping others and participating, here at home.

Op-Ed: Marines need objectives: The trouble with accomplishments

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