What Being a Veteran Means to me

I made my trip to Chicago MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in 1996, a few months after high school graduation. My life took on a new level of adventure and wonder that’s carried on ever since. I carry my Air Force experience with me every day.

I feel a connection with all veterans, and I believe it comes from a knowledge that we all understand a particular set of values: a “Service Before Self” philosophy that we’ve all allowed to take priority at some significant period of time during military experience. We’ve all made a commitment to put our own interests below that of the mission. Every one of us did this, and it’s a concept that took some doing for us to get our heads around.

But it’s not just about the commitment to the greater good- many of us were rewarded through service with significant positive character gains. For me, I am thankful today for courage.
My training and deployments pulled me from comfort at home to feelings of periodic anxiety & fear- and therein developed a kind of personal courage and trust in “the team” that affects me in very positive ways to this day. I believe I gained the ability to face- and take action on- everyday discomforts. It started in the military, and has grown ever since. I think a lot of vets feel this way.
On Veterans Day, I am especially aware of the connection Vets have- and want to high five all my brothers & sisters who’ve served or are still serving.

– Brendan

2 thoughts on “What Being a Veteran Means to me

  1. Dear Brendan,

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your thoughtful post on Veteran’s Day. My father was a career Naval officer and WWII veteran so, although I was never “in” the military per se, I grew up in the military culture and can totally relate to the “Service Before Self” philosophy of which you write. As I read your words, what startled me was the fact that I had always attributed my “service before self” way of being to the fact that I am a woman who was taught from a very early age to always think of others before my self. Fortunately, the Women’s Movement in the early 70s gave me a new way of thinking and being in the world. What I recognize as the great gifts given to me by my military upbringing are: a commitment to the greater good, love and appreciation for working together as a team, loyalty and trustworthiness.

    Autumn blessings to you,


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