We’ve all seen friends or may have been personally wooed by the promise of thousands and thousands of dollars from the military as a bonus — FREE MONEY! — if s/he commits to re-enlist when the DoD is recruiting your MOS / rating. The real icing on the cake [at least when I served; I believe the rules have since been changed] was if you re-enlisted in a war zone, your bonus was tax-free like your regular pay! What a truly amazing deal.
Now that I’m more than ten years off active duty, I realize that the Navy has given me countless bonuses that are beyond monetary value. If you’re a veteran reading this, you’d probably agree that the people you met and served with are, far and away, the best benefit. I wish I was still in contact with more people I served and deployed with, but the ones I do talk to are amazing relationships.
This past weekend, though, I discovered another benefit that I hadn’t previously considered. Living in Florida, I am only twenty minutes from the Atlantic. So, I got up early and was on the beach in time for sunrise. There couldn’t have been more than fifteen people stretched along all of the beach that I could see, and I was absolutely grateful to live on one of our coasts and to be able to see sunrise over the ocean. After sunrise hit, I was swimming in the same ocean that I sailed upon for five years for Uncle Sam. And it hit me.
I’d been thankful for the people I served with, the places I’d seen, but never realized that I am leaps and bounds ahead of [95% ?] of the population, solely based upon the number of sunrises, and sunsets, I’ve seen while on active duty. Having completed two deployments and their associated training before, I estimate that I’ve seen at least 150 sunrises & sunsets. Some people may not see 150 in the course of their time on Earth; I was able to do so in five years!
I am [hopefully] wiser now because I am [unfortunately] older. I did cherish this past weekend’s sunrise much more than I usually did while standing on those big grey boxes in the middle of the ocean. But, now when I watch that big ball of fire move, I’ll realize how much it has been a part of my life, and a bonus from my military service – a bonus that never hit my bank account. But, a longer-lasting and more meaningful bonus, bar none.
Til Valhalla. Fair Winds…
Make sure you don’t miss any episodes, news or updates! Follow us on social media, and subscribe to the podcast! Of course, we’d GREATLY APPRECIATE you sharing us with friends!