Wikipedia says that a military veteran is someone who has served or is serving in the military, but there’s more to it than that.
Being a veteran means making the hard decision to leave what is comfortable for something that is unknown.
It means saying goodbye to those you love the most.
It means looking at your mom as she breaks down in tears as you pull away from that last hug before you board the bus heading to places unknown.
It means being given instructions and having to follow them to get you on a plane that will take you to a distant city.
It means having the will power, motivation and intestinal fortitude to stay the course and not come home.
It means being able to be yelled at and accept it.
It means adjusting to “planned failure”.
It means overcoming differences, both personal and societal.
It means accepting different cultures and learning that there is only one true color in the world, Navy Blue.
It means busting your butt to succeed and learning that the phrase “failure is not an option” doesn’t mean you just pass because they don’t want to hurt your feelings but that if you fail, you will get sent back home with your tail between your legs.
It means smelling a submarine for the very first time.
It means building friendships that will stand the test of time.
It means knowing that when you’re in need, your buddy will be there, even at 0200 in the morning, on a weekend.
It means instantly having a new found respect for your grandparents who also served.
It means looking our for your people.
It means being able to accept getting all choked up when talking about the immense sacrifices that those before us have sacrificed.
It means that I’m a Sailor and a Submariner and will be until the day I die!
“I am a United States Sailor.
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country’s Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.
I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.”