It wasn’t that long ago when I was a naive, immature teenager processing into the U.S. Navy in Cleveland, Ohio. Oh, and did I mention scared? I was so scared that I nearly backed out. However, 14 years later, my military career still impacts my life, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
The military helped me mature
When I joined the Navy, I was an angry kid who just barely graduated from high school. I had little direction in life and no sense of responsibility. Serving in the military changed that. The moment I set foot onto the hallowed grounds at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, I was challenged both mentally and physically to grow up. Later, as I served in New Jersey, Italy, and Washington, D.C., I came to understand what it means to be a man with a sense of honor, courage, and commitment. I later used these lessons to help build a marriage, a career, and a life.
My mind is full of memories and experiences from my career in the U.S. Navy. During my 9-year term of service, I stopped in 20 countries, toured various historical landmarks, and experienced several cultures that I never would have had the chance to enjoy if I hadn’t joined the military.
As I visited all of these places, I realized that sometimes we Americans tend to think we’re the center of the world when, in reality, we’re just a small part of it. My time in the service broadened my perspective and opened my mind to what it truly means to be a human being. I’m thankful that my career in the military made that epiphany possible.
The education of a military man
When I joined the military, the only thing I knew was that I wanted to be a history teacher. The Navy had contracts with a few stateside schools, including Central Texas College and University of Maryland University College, through which I could take classes. As it turns out, I used my entire military career to go to school, and all of it was paid for by the Navy.
When I separated from the service, I hadn’t even touched my G.I. Bill funds yet, so I used that money to finish my degree with the Ohio State University. Now, I’m using my remaining G.I. Bill funds to earn my master’s degree from Xavier University. When I complete my current program, I will have earned two degrees with no debt to worry about since I’ve never had to pay a penny out of my own pocket for college tuition.
Whenever someone asks me whether joining the military was a good decision, the answer is always yes. The Navy made me into a man, gave me the opportunity to see the world, and allowed me to earn a quality education debt-free. I’m proud to have served my country, and I’m thankful for the benefits I received. My military career continues to impact my life for the better, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.