I am a veteran. A veteran of many things, one of which happens to be military service. Air Force service, to the tune of 20 years. What does it mean to me to be a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
When I looked into the military ‘lo these many years ago, I had no grand ambitions to be a hero, or go to war, or even stay longer than the minimum time allowed by law. In 1998, I was a video store clerk, getting paid cash at the end of my shift. I was the stereotypical, military or jail type of guy. Though they didn’t offer that particular “incentive” at the time, I understood it was my best option.
I was not a poster child for how to live your life. I had been in and out of trouble with the law, and had burned so many bridges I didn’t have to pay for heating anymore. I had a wife, a son, and absolutely no way to care for either of them. The final straw dropped when one of my friends was indicted for killing another of my friends. One of his best friends, in fact. If that could happen, what fresh hell was waiting for me if things did not change?