What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Anonymous NCO.

When people are asked why they joined the military, they often give different answers. Some will say for adventure and to see the world. A majority would say it was a way to get their college paid for. Some would say it was the only stable job available at the time. The reasons are varied, but I imagine there are some out there who joined for the reason I did. I joined because I could. 

Let me see if I can explain that. I toyed with the idea of joining the military for years. It took years of conversations with my wife for her to help me realize that it wasn’t too big or crazy of an idea. She realized long before I did that if I kept coming back to the idea, there was probably a reason for it. I felt called to join.

I’ve always had strong feelings regarding self-defense and protecting the weak and innocent. The sheepdog mentality. Maybe it just stems from how I was raised. I joined because I could. I was physically and mentally able to serve. It seemed like a no-brainer. I was able to and felt called to do it. I sometimes feel like the general question to young men should be “Why didn’t you join the military?” 

The thought of us being in two wars at the time didn’t affect my decision. For me, it was the right thing to do. A lot of people like to criticize the military and the government, myself included. But how many of them have taken the step to get involved in it and try to better it? Why would you not serve your country that has given you freedom? I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but I think a lot of young men in our country would benefit from a short 3-6 year service in the military. It is an eye opening experience, and they could learn a thing or two about loyalty, duty, respect, and honor.

Another reason I joined is so that you or someone like you doesn’t have to. Every day I put on the uniform and go work is one more day someone else doesn’t have to. Not every day is easy in the military. Some of the hardest challenges I have ever faced in my life both physically and mentally have been in the military. Every burden I have had to bear, I do so that you, my son, or someone else doesn’t have to. It is one more day you can enjoy your freedom. I don’t say that to be cheesy or have a chip on my shoulder. It’s just a mindset that you will either understand or not understand regardless of how I explain it. 

I love being in the military! Not everyday mind you. There is plenty of paperwork and BS to go around. Trying to understand the politics of our country and how that affects the military will make your head hurt. I have missed holidays and the birth of my daughter. But overall it has been a positive experience. I love earning new rank, and the camaraderie of my fellow soldiers. I have had experiences I will never forget and experiences I never would have had outside the military. It is a sacrifice to be sure, but I am honored to have the opportunity to serve my country.