Last week I hit another milestone in my military career. Twenty years earlier, on 9 February 1996, I made a trip to the Knoxville Military Entrance Processing Station and took the oath to defend my country and my state.

I joined the Tennessee Army National Guard for the Montgomery GI Bill and to have a little extra spending money while I was in college. The plan was to serve my mandatory service obligation while I finished school and then get out. But life happened and everything changed. I applied for a full time position with the National Guard and the rest, they say, is history.

During the last twenty years, I’ve worn three different colors of duty uniforms and two different dress uniforms. I’ve been in nine different units and I’ve trained in nine different states. I’ve traveled around the world, with stops in Germany, Ireland, Kuwait, and Iraq. The experiences I’ve had and the relationships I’ve built are irreplaceable.

Over the last twenty years I have experienced many highs and lows, but I’m in a place that I would have never thought I would be. Although my time in the military is not over, I’ve reached that point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The next five years will fly by and I’m looking forward to the rest of my journey until it’s time to turn the page in that chapter of my life.

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