27 July 2011
I work in a sterile government building of beige, brown, and gray. My ten foot square work space is a cubicle surrounded by many others identical to it. No art graces a vertical surface, save portraits of the building’s namesake, a certain dead general. No one has thought to bring in a plant or children’s refrigerator drawing.
I’ve met many DoD civilians over the years, each retired from a long military career, who have decided to spend their remaining above-ground days working in places like this. They’re almost universally great people. The money is good in a military GS position–much better than military pay for doing exactly the same work. Maybe wearing cities and never getting shot at makes it seem relaxed and luxurious. More likely it’s simply the path of least resistance. It would be simple to slip into one of those cushy jobs after retirement. (That’s retirement with a lower-case “r.”)
Not this soldier, brothers and sisters. When I hit twenty years of service, I will be in high-speed motion toward the personnel office, with retirement paperwork in hand. As the Italians at my last post often said, “Basta!” Enough, already.
I want something different from the rest of my life, to plan peaceful pursuits and pursue the beauty of everyday living, to stop moving my family around the world every year or two, sink roots deeply into a community, and contribute what I can to make life better for those around me.
For the next two years, I’ll continue to plan for wars I pray never happen, to dwell on awful possibilities most people never think of, and do my best not to bring it home each evening. (or at least the evenings I’m able to come home) I’m proud of my long years of service, and I’ll continue to do my best, serve my remaining time with honor, and look forward to walking off that last parade field with an honorable discharge tucked under my arm.