I enlisted at the age of 28.
And there were a lot of struggles along the way.
Being woken up at odd hours of the day and night. Not much sleep early on.
You take naps when you can. Sneak in a few minutes here and there.
I learned to clear my mind and doze off quick, before I was called on again.
There were messes that needed to be cleaned. I got used to a lot of unusual smells.
My clothes were always decorated with something new.
Mostly the shoulders. But sometimes I got the full treatment.
Front, then back.
Top, then bottom.
I learned to do a lot of laundry. Fold it neatly, then repeat.
After 3 months the bottles came out. We were going through five or more a day.
It was really bothersome. But after about nine months of hitting the bottles I was weaned off them.
But by that time, I had to watch out for projectiles and airborne attacks.
Always something to keep you on your toes.
I was on the floor a lot that first year. Rolling balls. Fighting off animals.
And using strange electronic devices that lit up and made noise.
This was at least a little time to rest. But then I would be up on my feet going full tilt.
This was a repeating pattern.
As the next couple years progressed, I was given more difficult tasks and heavier responsibilities.
I was chasing things and barking orders. Most of which were ignored.
I got that authoritative voice that those in command positions get.
That voice was ignored less. But I found myself still repeating things.
I also found I could understand more.
The third and fourth years came with some breaks. But I had to do something to keep me sharp.
So I worked a more at the other job I had gotten after the first year was over.
I tended bar at a local restaurant. Met a lot of nice people and have been having fun ever since.
When my first Tour was almost over, my wife and I decided to enlist me again.
Realizing that this came with a partial demotion from my previous position.
But I still had reservist duties from the first tour.
I was again woken up at odd hours. Getting through my day with less sleep.
Sneaking naps when I could.
Cleaning messes. Some familiar, and some new.
And some had me wondering what went on when I wasn’t there.
Even more laundry than before. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Back down on the floor I went. That’s where the job had me.
Out come the balls, new animals, electronic devices, lights and noise.
I was familiar with it all, so I was more relaxed about it all.
Everything became a little easier to do.
Then the running around. Chasing and being chased.
Having to find the things that went missing and cleaning more messes than before.
I found my authoritative voice again and used as needed.
The reservist duties from my first tour took me to an educational establishment.
I got in touch with the faculty there and took an interest in what they were doing.
That got me invited back to help when needed.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t. Ha ha.
The third and fourth years of the second tour were only slightly different than the first tour.
I had a few more breaks, but my reservist duties took that time and used it.
I got more involved with the educational establishment and found things to do for them.
This I will continue for years to come.
But now, at 38, I am on full reservist duties.
Now this doesn’t really mean that I am part-time by any means.
It just means that I have more time for an outside job. Bring a little more money into the house.
And I will still be there in the afternoon and evenings. Every weekend. Every night.
I will watch my kids grow tall.
Go in and out of every stage of their lives.
Deal with heartache and triumph.
Expand their knowledge.
Then find what they want to do and leave the nest.
I can only hope that they also want to sign up for at least one Tour of Duty.
No matter what form it takes.