As our nation honors military service and sacrifice on Armed Forces Day, I find myself thinking about one veteran in particular: my father.
He served 24 years in the United States Air Force. We were constantly on the go, moving eight times throughout my childhood. It wasn’t always easy, but the older I got, the more I understood that being a Master Sergeant wasn’t just a job for him, it was a purpose. The example he set ignited something within me too. While many of my classmates were dreaming of growing up to be a doctor, lawyer, or professional athlete, I had something different in mind.
I knew there was more to life than what my small town had to offer. I wanted to see things I read about in school books and escape the small town mentality of being trapped as a product of my environment. I thought college could be my way out, but my parents couldn’t afford to send me. So I joined the Navy, and eventually retired with 20 years of Service.
When I separated from the military in 2013, I found the most challenging part was identifying and finding my purpose again. My only child had just graduated from high school, so I felt my purpose of being a needed mother was gone. I was going through a divorce, so I felt my purpose of being a wife was now gone as well. I was empty and depressed.
The DC Service Platoons banded together on Friday, September 11, 2015 for a day of service at Democracy Prep, a high impact charter school in Southeast DC. With the help of Democracy Prep students, parents and local police officers, volunteers revitalized a learning garden, painted the school crest and helped renovate the school’s exterior.