When I first joined the work force in 1998 at McDonald’s I only took the job because I needed money. Money was the source of my living as I was 17 years old living on my own. I needed money for my apartment and wanted to eventually buy a car which I did a year after working and saving. In 1999 the General Manager of that McDonald’s approached me and said that she saw potential in me and that I take a lot of pride in my work. So she offered a promotion to me and I was promoted to Manager just a few days later and jumped into the McDonald’s management program. It was a great time, more money, more responsibility and I quickly learned that friends are few in the Management field. Over the next course of a year as a Manager I learned a lot about responsibility and what it meant to be in charge. But I also learned that whatever I was doing needed to be meaningful. The service that I was provided needed to be the best and the service needed to be for others.
In August of 2000 I resigned my position as Manager and joined the US Army. I quickly learned then who really were my friends, many that helped me get to the Management position quickly turned their backs on me and showed me what true professionalism was. In the Army I found that meaningful feeling I had been searching for. Though I joined because I wanted to experience something different, it filled that void in me to help others. I knew the moment I stepped off that bus at basic training that what I was about to endure was going to shape me into a soldier that will be doing a service to other and protect my country. During my 9 years in the military I served others by being a brother at arms to those that needed it. I served others as a Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers adviser, president and writer for the regulation governing B.O.S.S. I put in volunteer hours to relieve married soldiers to be home with their families. I deployed in service to my country to provide support for communications so that we could talk on the battlefield, but also so that fellow soldiers could call home and speak to their families, send and receive emails from their families. The comrade that you experience in the military you will never find again. No matter how long you search for it after your service it will never be the same. It is something you can’t replicate or describe to anyone. No one will ever understand your attachment to something this important.
Many leave the military and project their career into their lives by having veteran plates, stickers on their cars, wear clothing and showing support for Veterans. Others don’t do any of this. I wondered why and eventually understood. Many Veterans don’t want to be reminded of their time because of loss, but many know that the life they live after the military will never be the same so they leave it completely behind.
In 2009 I left the military. It was probably the hardest choice I have ever had to make. 9 years is a longtime to commit to something that become your lively hood. The feed me, clothed me, provided me with training and a family. I learned early in the Army that there is usually only one reason someone does 30 years in the Military. It is because when that person joined they had nothing and the idea of leaving something that has given them everything is hard. Plus if you had nothing before you joined, what is there to go back too. I joined with the clothes on my back and planned on a 20 year career, but that was cut short because of medical issues. That meaningful feeling was slowing slipping away.
After I was discharged there was really only one place for me to fill that void and that was at my first job. I started working for my local Church and that idea of my job being meaningful was back. I provided a service for thousands of believers to have an experience each weekend. I also prayed with the lost every Monday and would hope that I saved a few of those people. When I was laid off from that job, that feeling left again. I had many jobs after that. Many had that meaningful feeling at first, but eventually it got to the point that I was just there collecting a paycheck. I never wanted that feeling again, that all I was doing was working for money and that my job had no true meaning to it.
But recently that void has begun to fill with my outreach to Veterans. Something that lately I feel strongly that its where I belong, that its my meaning for being in the position I am and living where I do. Many of the organizations I have spoke with have been great, but are greatly overwhelmed by so many other Veterans. One though has out shined and that the Concerned Veterans of America. They have opened my eyes to the possibilities of a future of helping veterans which fills that void in my life to help others and have a meaningful career again.
What I have learned over the years is that having a passion for something isn’t enough, you have to have the drive and devotion to drive what your passionate about. I love computers and I would have to say I am exceptional at the IT Profession, it is something I enjoy doing, but I am not passionate about it. It pays the bills and takes care of my family, but in the end it doesn’t take care of my void. Many would tell me that I need to be grateful that I have a job, but I say to them, that just having a job in life isn’t enough. There is so much more to living then making money. Helping others that otherwise wouldn’t help themselves is living. My true passion is helping others, taking care of our Veterans and God. If I can put those together and make a living doing that I would in a heart beat. We should be doing what we love and not what we have too.
I will leave you with a thought. Is your working meaningful in you life? At the end of your day are you excited to leave or are you excited you get to come back the next day?