Veteran writing can be about the tough stuff – the hard times, challenging situations, and how we grew from it. Not every day was terrible or traumatic however. Many days were thrilling, funny, and totally kicked ass! My military friends are eternal and the experiences were unique. Every single day, I worked with the best people America had to offer.
And I mattered.
When deployed, it was easy for me to focus on all that I was missing. Looking back now, I can see more clearly all that I had. Here are a few things–funny and wonderful–I am thankful for from military deployment:
- Fresh eggs, rather than powdered ones
- The chow hall in remote Afghanistan that somehow had Baskin Robins ice cream
- The crewchief that used the “scientific method” to determine if farts could be seen on the FLIR (he claims yes)
- Midnight chow
- Gyms with just weights
- Gyms that were a 5 min walk from my office or my bedroom
- Quiet nights, crystal clear skies, all the stars
- The perfect amount of illumination for NVGs (not too much, not too little)
- Illumination rounds
- Xbox360 – Halo and Call of Duty
- Otis Spunkmeyer muffins and Rip Its
- Being welcome in every office, at every table in the chow hall, and with every group of soldiers. Always having a place.
- Frozen water bottles
- Hard dirt, No dust
- Safe landings. Also the landings that reminded me that not all landings were guaranteed to be safe.
- Shared loss. No fear of judgement for my tears or my lack of tears.
- Knowing with certainty that if I did not make it, my team would get me home and they would remember me
To those deployed- we miss you. Your empty chair at our table brings with it the deep ache of your absence.
This Thanksgiving however, I choose to live grateful for each moment, both the happy ones and the sad ones. From the sadness of your absence, I appreciate your presence even more. I look forward to when you return and can create shared moments with us once again.
Today, I live in this moment and I am thankful for it all.
This post is part of a series called Veteran Voices. These words offer insights into the souls of our warrior class. Feel free to share things you are thankful for, from deployment or not, in the comments