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…

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