U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Riggs

I never pictured myself having kids. It just didn’t seem like something I’d be good at, or a lifestyle I wanted, until it happened. The moment I found out I was going to be a dad was by far one of many mixed feelings. I was excited and happy; afterall, I was, and still am, with an amazing woman who, I love to be around, and actually saw myself shaping a future with.

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DoD photo by Cpl. Brian Stevens

Cultures clash. History is filled with conflicts based on things as simple as ideas, beliefs, and philosophy. It’s been happening for a few thousand years, and it’s probably going to keep happening for a few thousand more. Somewhere closer to home there’s a constant struggle between veterans and civilians finding a common ground. As veterans, we expect to be understood, respected, and treated appropriately for the things we’ve grown to believe we are, and our status in society. There are civilians who are reaching out and want to fill that gap, and still we keep them at distance.

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U.S. Army photo by Timothy L. Hale

Sea stories and tall tales fill every VFW hall from open to close every day. Veterans tell stories of how much harder things were in the old corps, and that the new corps is nothing but fluff. There are tales of heroism and valor and a million incredible deeds someone else did. These stories are great time killers, but they present a catch. As veterans and service members, we constantly revisit the past, and all we talk about is “back when.” It’s time to cut that shit out now. Your after-service slump is not doing anyone any favors. But if you admit the real reasons why you miss the military, you can find ways to compensate.

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Screenshot via YouTube

One of the greatest character traits military service instills in us as veterans is integrity. That undying notion that honesty, even if brutal and hurtful, is better than allowing others to wander an aimless path of unsatisfactory appearance or behavior. We wouldn’t dare think of letting our fellow soldier, shipmate, or devil dog be even slightly incorrect or “jacked up.” A core value that has been literally beaten into us, resulting in our inadvertent desire to be accountable and tattle on ourselves before someone else can throw us under the bus for something we did wrong. We’re quick to point out the errors in others’ ways to prevent them from looking like a world-class shitbag for the rest of the command, base, or world to see.

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U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class John Sorensen

If you watched “Act of Valor,” you no doubt remember the narration in the introduction that quotes Chief Tecumseh, “…Seek to make your life long, and its purpose in the service of your people.” For those who feel like their chance to serve is over, is passed, and they no longer have any form of duty, I ask you: Who says service or duty ends after the military?

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