One Place to Find Post-Active Duty Meaning: In The Guard Or Reserves

The Long March
U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Tony Bergen, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter flight engineer, assigned to B. Company, 935th Aviation Support Battalion, headquartered in Springfield, Mo., takes in the view from a CH-47F Chinook near Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Oct. 10, 2018.
U.S. Army National Guard/Sgt. Billie Thompson

Here's the 18th entry in our contest about how and whether to find meaning post-military. We are seeing some patterns emerge? Yes or no?


Kristoffer Bachmann writes:I think us Reserve Component types (guardsman myself) may have a different take on purpose outside/after service because most of our lives are spent outside Big Army (Navy/Air Force/Marines) apart from federal deployments.

I recently returned from my second go-around in Afghanistan (two-pump chump as some may say) and it has been a learning experience to witness some of my friends' transition from a period where they exerted significant influence (as advisors and in the CJOC) back to the 8 to 6 grind.

When we come off of a Title 10 deployment it’s a week, maybe two, at demob station and then right back into the civilian world, maybe-we’ll-see-you-in-two-months-at-Yellow-Ribbon-deuces. This can be difficult mentally and emotionally.

Luckily, most of us still have our jobs, but a not insignificant amount do not plenty of employers are smart enough to get around USERRA and the ESGR without technically committing a violation. Returning may be easier for us in some ways as we’re never fully institutionalized, always one foot in, one out.

But the most success that I’ve witnessed over the years is to find a passion. It doesn’t have to be your work but build on your veteran identity, don’t let it define you for life.

Get involved in local politics, soup kitchens, reading groups, model clubs, libraries, Scouts, Historical Societies, write something. Hell, just talk to people. I live in a large metropolis on the left coast and I’ve always found my fellow Americans interested in listening if I’m willing to talk.

To end on a recruiting pitch; if you miss the military, haven’t gotten too fat, and don’t mind shaving your veteran beard once a month, check out your local reserve unit. Chances are that they’re looking for good people still interested in service (you retired folks can check if your state runs a State Military Reserve).”

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Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

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