What is it like to be a Veteran?

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United-States-Navy As we celebrate Veterans Day many people will ask, hey you were in the military…how was that? It’s an interesting question to answer because it is something that is more of a journey than a one sentence answer. There are different assignments and responsibilities all of which can vary greatly. From being a nurse here in the US, a clerk in Japan or a ground soldier putting your life on the line daily. Each role is equally important and vital to the continued success of the military engine that preserves our freedoms. So to answer this question I thought I would take you ever so briefly through my Navy Journey and what I learned. It starts with the oath.

I, (YOUR NAME HERE) do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

With that you are sent off to boot camp.

Bootcamp

I enjoyed boot camp during the fall and winter months. Many thought it crazy missing my first Thanksgiving and Christmas away from home in boot camp. With all seriousness I did not mind. My journey was beginning and the rest did not matter.   Come to find out attending boot camp during this time gave me the opportunity to take a special position with the Presidential Honor Guard in Washington DC. I jumped at this chance and soon after I finished boot camp I was shipped off directly to drill in Washington DC. To be a part of the finest honor guard team in the world was an experience of my Navy Journey I will never forget. Our job consisted of performing daily funeral ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery for those who have given their lives before us to protect the Constitution of the United States. Other duties included conducting ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, the Pentagon, White House and anywhere called to honor service members in the finest manner.

Pentagon - Chairman Joint Chief of Staff

Again due to the timing of my enrollment in the military and acquired rank in the Presidential Guard I was granted another once in a life time position.   To be a part of the Joint Military Public Affairs team under the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. I was now rubbing shoulders with the highest ranking and most influential men and woman in the United States as well as escorting heads of state from foreign countries. Looking back I realize how fortunate I was to be 19 years old holding a position like that. However at the time it was business as usually for me.   The greatest honor I received during this time was meeting my wife Julie who still captivates me to this day.

pensacolaAfter my tour at the Pentagon ended I was then sent to Pensacola Florida for my training as a Cryptologic Technician Technical and Electronic Warfare Specialist. The school was very interesting to me and I was excited to learn all I could. During this time I also joined the Local Navy Band (not Thee Navy Band) to help pass some time and let’s be honest…if you were in the band you did not have to stand watches at the gate at 2AM in the morning.

CG47 TiconderogaOnce School was Complete I was stationed on the USS Ticonderoga CG47 to perform Anit- Drug Operations in South America.   My duties included Electronic Surveillance, Damage Control Officer, Work Center Supervisor and for a time dishwasher. Hey everybody gets a turn.   My poor Julie though. After being married only 1 week I shipped out for several deployments that kept us apart for about 18 of 24 months give or take.   While I did miss her I did journey all over South America from Chili, Argentina, Columbia, Cozumel, Peru and the Panama Canal just to name a few. I also become a Shell Back during a deployment which looking back at the ceremony was kind of gross getting that olive out. I skied in Ushuaia Argentina and Santiago Chili. I visited the Galapagos Islands, Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil, Ecuador, Barbados and so many other port cities that it has become somewhat of a blurr. These trips allowed me to really appreciate Gods creation as we visited so many rich cultures and landscapes.

Ushuaia Argentina Ushuaia Argentina Ushuaia Argentina Refueling at SeaI belive ChiliFUELING AT SEASantiago

During our deployments we performed Anti – Drug Operations, Weapons On-loads and Off Loads, Joint Country Mission Training, protected our air space during times of Crises and performed drills. Oh the hundreds of drills!   As far as missions, on one deployment in particular we captured over a Ton of Cocaine from entering the United States which sadly only puts a dent in the hundreds of tons that enter each year.

While visiting different cities I saw children living in shacks and/or missing limbs begging for anything you would give them. We would carry extra change with us to every city we visited cause we knew there would always be bunches of children or people begging for help. You clearly can see there was a need so we did what we could. On occasion we would share a meal with one or two if we could afford it. I was aware that many of the children were what you would call professional beggars in those countries, but not what you think of here in the United States. Many orphan children were forced to beg and if they returned empty handed many times they were punished, turned into sex slave or limps were removed or eyes gouged out so they could receive greater sympathy.

coming homeIt was during these times that I would think about home and the true reason I was in the military and what we are really defending. When I would finally return home I truly appreciated all that we enjoy here in the States and when I saw Julie at the end of the pier I would embrace her with arms tight knowing what and who we were doing this for.

I look back at these things and remember how wonderful it is to live in the United States.   This is a place where most of us are afforded the opportunity to succeed in life. Not just vocational but also to worship and serve a God without fear of retribution. That is why all other countries have people flocking here. I understand more now than ever that defending our moral code in the United States is what keeps us strong. That our constitution was put in place to protect the moral code our fore fathers believed in, all based on biblical truths. That we are here to uphold those codes through our active service in our military, schools, communities and churches. I understand that when our fore fathers created the first Amendment, it was vital in maintaining this moral code and our countries future.

FIRST AMENDMENT READS: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. –

Some call this Separation of Church and State which is the wording used by our Supreme Court several years ago and it is very true. When Government controls religion and our freedom of speech as is done is many other countries, it will destroy our moral code. When Government dictates right and wrong rather than a heavenly perfect God, it is then nations begin to crumble. We curse our children to a life of servitude and a warped future. When a government creates laws to honor or restrict religion in any form it begins to corrupt or restricts our ability to let God move.

Something as simple as defining what marriage is and giving benefits of such a union is one example of respecting one established religion while restricting another belief system. Had our government left this God given union to our churches we would not have the discrimination and forced agendas of various groups on both sides today. Instead Gods Word would be the definition. This is one example on how a nation begins to infight among its people. Over time truth becomes foggy and warped cause it is now being defined by man who is broken instead of God the perfect creator. Government was never intended to be the creator of Moral Code and the constitution was created to avoid this downward spiral.   This is what we as veterans were protecting and the reason it is the first Amendment.

When we honor our first amendment rights and allow the word of God to rule our Moral code instead of Government, God and his word will be allowed to flourish. Love and peace will have a great presence. Our children will have a future greater than we can imagine. Our Constitution protects us from those who wish to change Gods moral code (Foreign) including ourselves (Domestic). For the desires of man’s heart are wicked and will always corrupt. It protects us from defining our own moral code.  This opens the door to a loving God who desires nothing but good things for his children.

What is it like to be a veteran you ask? It’s a journey that reveals the truth of God’s love and desire for his people. That is worth protecting, so help me God.

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