Although I am very thankful for my family and my family of friends I would like to tell you about my other special family.
I was born into this family in November of 1988. I am part of the 1% of the population that chooses this family. It is a calling for some and an obligation for others. Whatever the reason, we enter this family freely as volunteers. The family I am speaking of is the United States Military. I am part of the army family, but embrace my sisters and brothers of my sister services.
When I started in the Army, I did not understand how strong this bond would really be. I was a 4 and done soldier. Now look at me, I am a career soldier. The bond starts right away. You rely on each other for everything. Everything is done as a team. In basic training I developed bonds that will never be broken. The Drill Sergeants stressed the importance of these bonds. Who would have known back then that I would become one of those Drill Sergeants and teach the very same values to new recruits.
Over the past 24 years I have met some of the most amazing people from all walks of life. These people have been from all branches of service. All of them and their family members I will never forget. I have laughed and cried with them all. Yes, members of the military cry! I have deployed with them to both humanitarian operations as well as to war. I trust each and every one with my life and I have their back also.
We are one big family. We become even closer when we are away from our loved ones. We learn all about each other and are concerned when something is happening in our lives. We know all about each other’s children and celebrate every birth, birthday and anniversary together. We celebrate holidays together too, just like any other family. While we are deployed, they try to make holidays as homelike as possible. The chow is really good. We celebrate with our family! Without my Army family, I would have gone crazy while in Iraq.
We also grieve together like a family. A loss of a military member, no matter if we know them or not, is a loss of a family member. This includes our K9 family also. There is nothing more heart wrenching than a memorial service for a fallen Military Working Dog. When we attend the services, Taps is played, and when the first shots of the volley are fired, our hearts jump, we get a lump in our throats, and we fight back our tears. One of our sisters or brothers has paid the ultimate sacrifice. There is no greater honor than to salute our fallen comrade. When we lose a member of this family, it affects us in a way that no civilian, who has never served, can understand.
On Thanksgiving, as you gather around whomever you are calling “family”, give thanks to the Military. Give thanks to all of my sisters and brothers in this profession of arms both past and present for if we haven’t served, you could not enjoy the freedom of sitting with your loved ones on this day. We fought and continue to fight for your right to live free. I thank all of my Military Family. I also thank you, my family and friends, for everything that you are to me.
Dutch aka Sergeant First Class Deutcher, United States Army