Today I received my official Honorable Discharge certificate from the Texas Air National Guard. My best friend from Tech School where the training really started said it best when she told me that it was the end of an era.
I spent 11 years, 1 month and 6 days in the Air National Guard when I decided that the best path was for me to step away from the military and focus on my son. There were many factors that led up to this decision, the main thing being the difficulty of being a single mother and needing child care so often on weekends, and the fact that my guard unit was closing.
I originally enlisted in the Montana Air National Guard in May of 2002. I spend the majority of my career in Montana, Utah, California and ending in Texas. I met so many amazing people and I learned so many amazing things. I would never trade the time and experience that I had for anything. This led me to the path that I am currently on and provided me with a career that I am able to still hold as a civilian to this day.
I will never forget the people that have come into my life thanks to the military and I will never forget the many lessons that I have learned, both good and bad. I will never regret the strength that I found in myself and in others. The many wonderful examples of integrity and leadership in some amazing people. I had many good and bad experiences and they all made me who I am today. The military has been such a big part of my life, having joined when I was barely 18 years old.
At 18 I joined for love of my country and for my desire to serve and make a difference. I watched 9/11 during the beginning of my senior year and had already considered a career that would have me starting out with experience in the military. I had a desire to follow the heroic example set my father and his father before him, and my grandfather on my mother's side. I was proud to have such shining examples of what it meant to be patriotic and to put service before self. I will always be proud of my father and the amazing things that he did within his military career. The mental and physical strength that he exemplified is enough for anyone to want to make their father proud.
I will never forget those that have served beside me and have watched the military shift into a constantly adapting shape around us as the world has changed even in my short 11 years in the service. I have lost brothers and sisters in arms in various ways and they will never be forgotten in my heart and thoughts. Regardless of personal agenda, when the uniform is on and you are performing your job you will always have my respect and gratitude, and the time and distance between us as soldiers, sailors, marine's and airman. We will always be brothers and sisters in arms, and I will always treasure my military family. Thank you all past, present and future for a big part in making me who I am today. I would not be where I am without you. Here is to the next chapter to life.