My Family Is At The Center Of My Life, And That’s Alright

The Long March
First Lt. Douglas "Jolly" Foss, 95th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor pilot, hugs his fiancée, Abby, Feb. 13, 2016, at the Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., flightline.
U.S. Air Force photo by Sr. Airman Sergio A. Gamboa.

No. 19 in our contest says you don’t have to find meaning in your work, that there are other places that might be better.


Kevin LaCroix writes: “I did one enlistment in the Navy.  I started in the Nuclear Power Program but did not finish it.  I ended up doing what I wanted anyway, a machinist, Machinery Repairman, to be exact.  I served in the relative peace between Beirut and the first Gulf War.  Over-all I enjoyed my time in.

After separating, honorably, I went out looking for work as a machinist.  After about two dozen applications, I was hired but was told my job experience was considered no better than a high schooler graduating from a vocational tech program.

That hurt. I had been a second-class Petty Officer, with plenty of experience on tin cans and a tender. The civilian world was very different. My Navy training did not really prepare me for a civilian job.

I was planning to re-up but met the woman that would become my wife.  I went back to school at night while working 55 hours/week. Through two years of partial unemployment because the aerospace industry crashed. I eventually finished my associate’s degree while working one-and-a-half jobs and having our first child. I soon had my dream job, then my wife was pregnant with triplets.

I quit my job to take care of my suddenly-doubled family. This was my new purpose, my new job. Having four kids under 3 kept me busy. The order and discipline I learned in the service helped maintain some ‘semblance’ of order in the house. It was not easy

As we seldom appreciate what we have, when we have it, I was no different. As I sit here typing this out, I know that 28 years + of marriage and 4 kids grown into young adults was my purpose. In that time, I still wondered about ‘what if’ I had stayed in or re-upped. There are things I miss about the military, but my mission became supporting my wife in her career and bringing four people up to be happy and healthy and productive. My wife and I and our kids have supported each other in various personal struggles. We would not be here without each other.

My purpose now, for lack of a better word, is my wife and I and our journey towards a distant retirement. I also am taking time for me.

In all, I am satisfied with the decisions I have made.  Not all have been good, or smart, but I would not change a thing, even if I could, because the good, fun and great times far outweigh the not-so-good.”

Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.

The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.

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Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."

That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.

When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

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According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.

"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

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If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.

The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

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As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.

And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.

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