I’ll never forget the day I got my DD-214. I woke up just like any other day,  fresh shave, fresh haircut, I looked like I just stepped off ship at a navy port in “proper civilian attire”.

The days leading up to that day went by really slow. I was anxious, excited, nervous yet proud of the time I served and I was looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. You go through the transition classes, you hear the speeches from senior  leadership, but it all doesn’t really hit you until you are finally free.

Sitting in the admin office waiting on my paperwork. A million things rushing through my head. Is it really over? Is my time finally up? 12 years of structure, discipline, pain, brotherhood, blood, sweat and tears. Now what?

The moment I held the paperwork in my hand and read it line by line felt like my soul had escaped me and as I walked out of the building, it felt as if my soul remained behind. A mixture of emotions, hours of reminiscing of my time in the service while I pack up the house, it just didn’t seem right.

The next morning and many mornings after,  I would wake up wondering if I am UA or late for morning formation. Not having to shave or get a haircut, not being held under the UCMJ. Having the ability to go get tattoos or a motorcycle without consent. At 30 years old I was finally able to make adult decisions on my own without having the system disagree.

It sounds good, to be free. A lot of people think of freedom when they are held captive. At times that is what you feel like, but if you really think about it you’re not held captive. You signed a contract to give up certain liberties in order to protect the freedom of the United States and to protect each other and our family.

All the fun, all the bad, all the loss, all the gain, the bright days and the dark days all led up to now. What I have learned from all of this, enjoy what you have while you have it. You never know when it will be taken away. Another thing I have learned over the years, you can always shut the door on opportunity but you can’t always open it.

Don’t be afraid to take a risk, some of the best decisions in life require some what of a risk. Step out of your comfort zone and do something for yourself. Enjoy every moment of everyday, if not for you then for the ones that don’t get that opportunity. The ones that had their life taken way before it should have. Whether in War, Gangs, Abortion, Car Accidents or even just accidents.

We all know someone who is not here anymore, someone close to our heart. Enjoy this life for them, responsibly. Do something great, make a difference in other people’s lives so when it is our time we will have built a Legacy that others will want to continue.

The day it all changed for me,  overtime ended up being a good thing. When did it all change for you, and how are YOU making your legacy?

© Tim Foster – 2015

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