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

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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.

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.

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.”

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