Sometimes inspiration stikes from the most unlikely places, today it comes from a picture of two of my favorite people who happen to be celebrating their 14th wedding anniversary.
My best friend Steve is a walking talking contradiction. He is simultaneously humble and braggy, intelligent but always quick with a joke. He also happens to be a 1LT in the Air Force. Our history goes all the way back to 8th grade and makes for an unlikely friendship, the kind where our mothers would make each other’s favorite meals because they knew we would inevitably show up. He had a key to my house and a standing welcome. My parents still call him son and see him around once a month. When his father (also an Air Force vet) passed he stayed at my house for a week.
Of all the things he is I am most proud of the man he became. Some people (like him) were destined for the military; dad was a vet of Vietnam, oldest brother is a LTC now, older brother is a security force officer, and then him. Others like me still can’t point to a single thing of how they ended up in the military. So what drives the average red blooded American to serve?
For me it came to morals and convictions; I almost joined the Air Force alongside Steve. I filled out all the paperwork and was ready to go. But no amount of money can entice me to do something I won’t find interesting so ultimately the Air Force wasn’t for me. In the end I found my way to the Army, but what led me there was ideals.
People think highly of the military (for obvious reasons) and for some of us more than money, job security, school or whatever else that is what we respond to. The military is a values based organization and as long as an individual’s values line up with those of the service it will be a noble calling.
Some of you know my day job is recruiting young men and women to join the United States Army. Recruiting is a fickle animal with politics, the economy, and the world climate all playing a part. One of the truest mantras in recruiting is “we recruit in our own image,” it’s the reason I put more MP’s in than anything else by a wide margin. But I’m at the point where the numbers don’t matter anymore instead I look for people that I would want to someday take my place. Recruiting has done two things to me: it makes me an excellent judge of character (very rarely am I wrong), and it has given me a healthy dose of skepticism. So when I go hunting I look for that kid that I used to be; patriotic, idealistic and strong in beliefs, if sometimes they may end up getting him in trouble. When I find people who remind me of myself I know they will be successful and while I will be the first to tell you my morals and convictions have not always been perfect if I can populate the Army with people who serve the greater calling, then all of America wins.