Identifying Military Buttons

Identifying Military Buttons

Design Factor

Uniform buttons have both functional and decorative purposes. The art of identifying military buttons is not only logical but interesting as well. The design would pinpoint the service, regiment or state militia to which the bearer belonged and the date it represented. The US Army buttons have been using the eagle crest since around 1808.

The earliest period in which the symbol has been used was in 1797. Changes were made starting with the horizontal positioning in 1852. Then in the midst of World War II, regulations turned the eagle’s head to face the right, connoting honor against a backdrop of turmoil. Marine corps, on the other hand, changed very little from its original design in 1821.

Age Indicators

The button’s construction and material is also a good indicator of its age. During war times, Army uniform buttons were made from plastic to save on brass, which was more needed in making arms and weaponry. Navy uniforms worked in a different manner.

Officers and Chief Petty Officers wore gilt brass buttons in WWII. The gray working uniforms had black plastic buttons while green aviation uniform bore the ones with antique enamel finish. Officers, stewards and cooks used an additional white button with an anchor design.

Markings at the Back

Look for the manufacturer’s markings at the back of the buttons. It’s also a good dating method in military buttons but is not conclusive. The Scovill backmark lettering system along with the dots and stars is not always indicative of the period in which the button was used.

While the text didn’t change, Scovill used different embellishments from time to time. Thus you may encounter a ring of dots in a button with an 1850 backmark but none in buttons of a more modern period.


Another helpful factor in identifying military buttons is to check the shank, the attachment that holds the button in its place. If you see a shank soldered at the base, the buttons came from an older period such as the 18th and 19th centuries. Civil War buttons also had that mushrooming effect in the shanks as well.

In 1813, shank came in the form of two pieces crimped together. Then came the two-piece hollow rounded buttons held together by a thin rim invented during 1830s. Shanks that are set into the buttonholes were seen after World War I. And from 1880s to 1920s, innovations such as stamped brass turret and tinned iron back buttons came into being.

How to Use Military Technology to Keep Your Phone Secure

How to Use Military Technology to Keep Your Phone Secure

As media consumption grows higher and we use our mobile phones more and more for things like streaming media and catching up on the latest programmes on the iPlayer, there has been a corresponding shift towards larger and larger screens. This means we can watch our favourite things in widescreen comfort with glowing colour and clear resolution, improving the user experience no end and giving us all something interesting to occupy our minds with on those long train journeys.

The one drawback to this is that the screens are so big that they are even easier to scratch and damage, as can be seen easily with recent widescreen handset releases such as the HTC Desire and the Sony Ericsson X10. Certainly, finding a big enough and safe enough Xperia X10 case could be a mean feat, and that can be the case for many phones these days.

A brilliant alternative to your traditional case is the InvisibleSHIELD, which is a specialist film made from the world’s most durable and tough material. Originally invented in a military capacity, the InvisibleSHIELD was designed to protect the edges of helicopter blades as they fly through all the elements at hundreds of miles an hour, withstanding all kinds of wind and weather. This means that it should be more than capable of keeping your phone safe, no matter what you’re doing. And for big kids, there’s that thrill of knowing you’re using what was once state-of-the-art military tech for your own little day-to-day missions, be it a daredevil journey to the office or a long and tiring march of endurance to the corner shop and back.

It’s available for a range of phones and should be more than up for the job of protecting even the largest screens. Stick it on your mobile as soon as you take it out of the box, and you’ll be feeling just like Action Man straight away!

Pray for Our Military and Our Allies

Pray for Our Military and Our Allies

Readers, the world needs to pray
for our service men, women, allies risking their lives every day.
Many are young and just out of high school
tramping the foreign battlefields to protect me and you.

They don’t have time to get a good nights rest
or sit in the pews at their churches to feel blessed.
They sleep in their dug outs…get a wink or maybe a few
no time to enjoy a walk through the mornings dew.

They eat their meals when they can sneak a bite
never know what kind of actions they’ll have to fight.
They don’t have the luxury of a good warm bath
nor get to walk with their families down a wooded path.

Can you imagine the lonely days and nights they have
when I think about it, it makes me…hurt and feel sad?
Readers, remember to pray for our brave women and men
who stand their watch, fight, and hoping they’ll soon win.

We need to pray for God to bless, protect, each and everyone of them
while they’re fighting hard…a war that’s difficult to see an end.
Pray God keeps them safe…brings them back to their homeland
we’ll open our arms to welcome them back, give thanks to the “Great I Am.”

Making the Most of Your Military Training

So now your time in the service is winding down and you're probably looking forward to greener pastures (or fair winds and following seas). Regardless of how much planning you are putting into your upcoming separation or retirement, there is probably just that slight nagging sensation in the back of your head that pops up with the thought:

"What am I going to do for a job?"

Indeed, it is a pretty hefty concern. After all, a few years of intense training, long hours and hard work and you've gotten pretty good at your job. What if you can't find a similar job that pays around the same when you come home? Worse yet, what if there is no employment for a person with your training outside of the military? Fear not, you are treading where thousands of fellow veterans have trod over the centuries. Many problems can be avoided simply by realizing what exactly you have in terms of marketable skills.

Licenses, Permits, Certifications

So you were a Paramedic in the service with 6 years of experience. You could probably keep up with an Emergency Room physician if put to the test. However, be aware that military paramedic training does not necessarily carry over to the civilian world. You'll need to check with your state as to specific requirements for certification of EMT's and Paramedics to see if any of your training does, in fact, carry over. Otherwise, you may need to enroll in a civilian training program to be eligible to obtain a necessary license.

Always check into requirements in your state before you assume that you have a "guaranteed" job back home. The fact is, hospitals and ambulance companies may be dying to hire the person I just described because of his/her experience and qualifications, but without that license, they are out of luck.

But everyone else is OK, right? Only the former Medics and Corpsmen have to worry about licenses? Sorry, friend. This will also become an issue if you held a position like Barber, Electrician, Plumber or Military Police in the military. Check with your state's appropriate licensing boards.

My Military Training Doesn't Count!

So you've checked with your state and they don't accept your military training for the purposes of obtaining a license. Here you have a few options as you move forward.

  1. Find another career. If you are getting out at age 22 or 23 and intend to go back to college, this isn't the greatest tragedy. Likewise, if you really didn't care for your career and always wanted to be something else (Butcher, Baker, Candlestick maker etc.) now is the perfect opportunity to go back to school and transition into a completely new career field. Aside from college and Vocational Technical Programs, consider union apprenticeships as well.
  2. Suck it up and swallow your pride. So you were a Master Electrician in the Navy, a purveyor of plumbing expertise in the Army or the best darn medic in the whole Air Force. Now that you are home your state says you have to go to a school approved by them before you can even consider getting a job in the field you have excelled in. While this requires a great deal of humility, keep in mind that this might also be a blessing in disguise. Things went differently in the military, and now you are bound by state and local regulations which you may be completely unaware of. Additional training could help you hone your skills and become even more proficient in your trade.

Other Professions

So the medic gets out and becomes a paramedic, the dental hygienist gets out and becomes a dental hygienist, where does that leave the Deck Seaman, the Infantryman or the Combat Engineer? Welcome to a crossroads in your life. You will find now that there is no direct career path if you worked in a combat arms position or simply held a job that was very much service specific (in the case of the deck seaman). First, one must consider what skills they have acquired.

Management and Supervisory Positions

The Military called you an E-4 Supply Clerk who was responsible for ordering new materials. Put that on your resume and you can assure yourself more time collecting unemployment. Translated into civilian jargon, you were a Purchasing Agent.

As a recently appointed E-5, you supervised five forklift operators and a few inventory specialists in an ammo depot. Unless you are applying for a Government Service job at an ammo depot, you'd be wise to sell yourself to prospective employers as a Warehouse Supervisor.

Generally those in paygrades E-4 and above at least have a fair claim for management and supervisory positions provided they actually supervised people. Remember, however, that you no longer carry the authority of an NCO or Petty Officer. Employees are not bound by federal law to listen to what you have to say, and now cursing at employees is a great way to find yourself unemployed again.

Non-Traditional Options

So, the Army sent you to HALO (High Altitude-Low Opening) Freefall school. Ever consider becoming a skydiving instructor?

The Navy had you work in the Criminal Investigative Division. Ever think about a career as a Private Investigator?

You spent years working in the Personnel Office. You'd probably be a real asset to a Staffing Agency.

So you were a Master Diver? Consider donning the scuba gear once more, on the outside, people pay big money for that stuff.

In Conclusion..

No one is guaranteed a high paying job with an expense account. There are jobs out there, however, and you are just as qualified (if not more) than your civilian counterparts. Don't bore prospective employers with sea stories filled with jargon and curse words. Show employers that you have a lot to offer their company but are also willing to learn. Best of luck in the job search.

American Military University

American Military University

When soldiers are faced with deployment, many think they will not have time for online courses but they will see that they are wrong when faced with a lot of down time.

While in Kuwait, I was lured to the education office where counselors set up my Tuition Assistance. Considering the college I was accepted to do not have many online options, I settled with American Military University. Even though I was new to online schooling, AMU had a course where they taught me all about the system and where to find resources for future courses. Many of the courses that I took were very flexible and majority of them had assignments due on Sundays. That gives students a whole week to complete their work without having to worry about being late.

Many soldiers will see that some days overseas may be busy than others. However, it is easy to organize a certain time of day to complete assignments. My military occupational specialty (MOS) allowed me to bring my assignments during duty hours so I had plenty of time to complete them. Even though the deadlines for the assignments are Sundays, students are allowed to turn in assignments early. Some courses will have discussion assignments due on Wednesdays, so soldiers would have to work hard to get those done in time.

All courses come with a syllabus that outlines all the assignments and the due dates. Therefore, it is easy to get ahead when military students feel they may be busy with work for a couple days. However, some instructors only allow a couple assignments to be turned in at one time. Turning assignments in early is great for military students in movement so they will not have to be forced to drop a course due to their military commitments.

Dropping and withdrawing courses is a simple process. However, students are only given a week after the course starts to drop without any penalties. AMU also allows students to take one course at a time so there is no pressure on keeping up with credits to stay in good status. AMU also works great with the 100% Tuition Assistance so military students are not obligated to pay a dime. This is why it is very important for those deployed to find an education office so the process will be simpler.

AMU is an accredited school so the courses a student takes may roll over to other colleges. Plus, the credits can also go towards promotion points for soldiers. AMU also offers certifications along with Bachelor and Associate Degrees. There are many different options that suit everyone. Some of the degrees can also be more helpful towards a military career rather than a civilian career. The instructors are also flexible as they know many of their students are deployed. My experience with American Military University was very positive and I recommend it for all, especially for soldiers who would like to continue their education while deployed.

Military Success and Failure in SUN TZU at GETTYSBURG

SUN TZU AT GETTYSBURG, Bevin Alexander, 2011, 286pp, index, notes

The Art of War has been around 2,500 years, but Western awareness didn't come up until around the time of the Vietnam War. General Vo Nyugen Giap , it was learned, followed the teachings of Sun Tzu and Mao credited The Art of War for its much of the meat in his writings onguerrilla warfare.

The Art of War was a masterwork whose concepts were applicable at all levels of combat, from General Patton down to Sergeant Rock . Author Bevin Alexander analyzes how Sun Tzu's rules dovetail with experiences during select major conflicts of the past two centuries. Think of it as an expansion on the concept used in the History Channel's documentary "The Art of War".

Gettysburg is just one of the events selected for analysis. Sun Tzu emphasized proper intelligence and Robert E. Lee didn't have it. Jeb Stuart's cavalry, his prime source of intelligence, needed to be on a short leash but instead was off with his cavalry like Sauron's Nazgul . Contemplating the disastrous Pickett's Charge across one mile of open field towards the Union position — I saw it a few weeks ago, it's a long, long walk — Lee violated several principles ( "know your enemy and know yourself and you will win 100 battles" and "some battles should not be fought" –the Federals were dug in on the high ground that gave them a clear edge).

As any viewer of Ted Turner's movie, Gettysburg, will know, Lee's second in command, General James Longstreet, tried repeatedly to talk Lee out of even confronting the Yankees at Gettysburg. He wanted Lee to swing south toward Washington, move towards Washington until ideal ground was found and invite the attack the Federals must make. Alexander says Washington was never a realistic target due to thedefenses Lincoln insisted on. On the other hand , says Alexander, but Philadelphia was a viable targetand taking that city could've cut the critical rail line thatsupplied Washington, achieving the same effect as direct assault.

The British during the Revolutionary War never even considered the simple option that would've won the war, says Alexander…using the Royal Navy to close the colonial ports which would putirresistible pressure on the insurgents. Aside from the fact that the Royal Navy and the Army may have had tunnel vision about their missions, it's also possible the British disregard for the real strength of the revolutionary spirit kept them from taking full steps towards ending the war but instead led them to slowly escalate. It surprised me somewhat that in summarizing the progress of the war, a couple pages spent on General Daniel Morgan's creative tactics at Cowpens that broke the British southern strategy did not include some obvious references to Sun Tzu . It seems a perfect opportunity. (If only to quote: "the basis of all warfare is deception," which Cowpens showed above all). A minor quibble.

At Waterloo, Napoleon had two bozo generals carrying out his orders and, in the bargain, made numerous mistakes he'd nerve made before. Sun Tzu : hire competent generals.

In World War I, both sides were trapped into trench warfare with tremendous casualties in frontal assaults on each other. The arteriosclerotic brass had no concept of anything other than direct assault. They were like Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg and we know how well that worked out. Sun Tzu advised there be two attacking forces, a holding force in front, and a flanking force that attacks from the side or from behind while the battle continuesagainst the holding force. There was nothing like this in the trenches and British and French forces were mentally stuck in that groove. On the other hand, the German blitzkrieg of 1940 did just that with huge success…the main force attacked through the Ardennes as the Allies were engaged by a force coming through Belgium and Holland. On the Eastern Front, however, Hitler repeatedly violated Sun Tzu's principles and paid the price.

One of my favorite concepts from Sun Tzu is "the greatest general is not the one who wins 100 battles, it is the general who achieves his goals without fighting." General Douglas MacArthur, defying military critics but supported from thepolitical leadership, pulled off a daring invasion at Inchon (the Chinese did warn theNorth Koreans it could happen but were ignored). Suddenly, the North Koreans south of the DMZ were completely neutralized, without supplies, immediately easing the pressure on the defenses inside the Pusan perimeter. Unfortunately, MacArthur was beyond control after that amazing performance and overstepped himself, even with clear warning from the Chinese and even a large-scale Chinese warning strike.

A very interesting book with insights on both the ten battles and campaigns discussed as well as on the application of Sun Tzu's principles.

Our Military and Their Sacrifice

The armed forces of the United States stand vigilant and on guard protecting your basic liberties and freedoms. The average American takes their freedom for granted. It's easy to overlook the costs of this freedom as our troops put their lives on the line and are falling daily in the conflicts overseas, primarily Afghanistan and Iraq. Back here in the states we go about our daily lives , biggest concerns we may have are paying the rent, what are we going to eat Friday night, etc, as we notice a headline that 2 more soldiers died in a IED explosion in some back alley street in Iraq. Quickly, we read the article, maybe say, oh darn, sure hope this war ends soon, and then go right back to worrying about Friday night's dinner.

So what is the cost of this thing we call freedom, observing our liberties with little care in the world? Well it's a bit higher than most realize. Blood, anguish, pain, and loss. The cost is blood when a soldier has made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down his or her life in the line of duty. A family experiences the unfixable void of emptiness when you have just been informed a loved one has died in service of their country. Pain can be in many forms. It may be the pain a soldier experiences in simply being away from the family while doing a tour of duty, or could be the pain of injuries while in combat. But the pain can also be what the family feels when learning something has happened to their loved ones. Loss goes hand in hand with anguish as it does with pain; unless you have felt it there is really no way I can put it into words.

The bottom line is our freedoms we enjoy as Americans, come from the blood of our service men and women, who have laid down their lives for us. Our freedom has been purchased by their friends and family that have lost their dear loved ones. Our servicemen and woman make so many sacrifices that I would need a book to even touch the surface of what they do. I am ex military Myself, I hold no person in higher regard then I do those that stand the line keeping us safe, those who sacrifice their personal freedoms, so that we may enjoy ours.

US Army Basic Training: What You Should Expect

I joined the Army in May 2003. I picked an MOS that seemed cool to me, 13B, cannon crewmember. Basically, I was in a combat field where I would be able to shoot things and blow stuff up. In short, I would kill the enemy. I could have been a Pharmaceutical Specialist, or a Aircraft Repair Specialist, or something that would pay off when I decided to leave the Army and become a civilian, but no, If I was going to do this Army thing I was going to do it right. I was going to go in there and do something that most people don't do. I wanted to be "The King of Battle" as the Field Artillery is known. So, in September, when I shipped out, I was proud to be headed to the flat, windswept plains of Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I was proud to be headed to a place known for harsh weather and even harsher Drill Sergeants. I was excited to be doing such a unique thing, something that most people my age were scared or too lazy to do. I was proud to be serving my country, I was proud knowing that I would probably be going to war, even though I didn't agree with that war, I would be doing something that would shape my life and forever change me, hopefully for the better.

I flew into Oklahoma City just as the sun was beginning to set, plunging the countryside into a darkness that a young guy used to the city lights in New York City and New Jersey knew nothing about. As we rode the bus on the pitch black highway through the middle of nowhere, silent, all of us destined for the unknown, not sure if we were doing the right thing. A collective nervousness hung in the air and my heart beat faster as the miles ticked by on the odometer of that bus which looked and felt as if it had shuffled frightened new recruits back and forth for decades. I stared out the window into the bleak darkness as the bus plunged us deeper and deeper into this hole that we had dug for ourselves, closer to the point of no return.

I awoke to the bus slowing and bright lights flooding the interior. I was amazed at myself for being able to sleep during such a nervous time, yet it was conceivable since my anticipation had kept me up for the better part of the past three nights. We crept through the barriers and security checkpoints of the main gate of Fort Sill, and again dove into darkness as we drove through the main post to the area where fate awaited us. And minutes later we arrived and fate walked onto that bus. Tall and dressed in a uniform pressed so sharp that the sleeves could cut a man's throat, with a round brown hat, tilted just right as to shade the eyes making his stare look menacing, hateful almost, the Drill Sergeant who told us in a calm yet commanding voice, "Welcome to Fort Sill, now get off the bus."

We spent our first few hours filling out some papers. We were tired, hungry, and most of all, scared. The Drill Sergeants were not loud, or mean. They did not scream at us or make us do anything degrading or any push ups. All that would come later. As we filled out the papers we were given a brief intro to what our life over the next few months would be like. We were to give up all "contraband" items, lighters, tobacco products, knives, electronic devices etc. or face the "harshest" of penalties. Basically we were threatened with disciplinary action for all the things that we could possibly do. We were then given bunks in an old, drafty building and went to sleep.

The next few days were spent getting our uniforms, our haircuts, the quickest most painful haircut I have ever had. It was about 30 seconds of digging into my scalp that left me bald, with a burning patch of white and red skin on my dome. We were given some classes on how to march, how to follow basic commands, rank structure. It was Army 101, supposed to get us ready so we were not totally ignorant to the rules when we went "across the tracks." Across the tracks was the training center. It was where boys became men. It was where you trained for war. It was where all your hard work and dedication, all your days spent with your face in the mud, would turn you into the steel faced killer that the Army needed.

Finally, after what seemed like too long, the day came for us to head "across the tracks." We had heard so many stories about the Drill Sergeants. About how they would treat us, about the ride over there, about how they would pack us into the back of trailers, windowless, hot, with barely enough air to breath. Fights would brake out inside of them in the dark as we were crammed in like sardines. Then they would let us out into the hands of the merciless Drill Sergeants who would scream into our faces and make us do countless push ups until our arms were weak like putty. As we waited in line for this next moment of truth, this next test of our perseverance and dedication to our mission, our hearts beat rapidly. We watched as the "cattle carts" pulled up and the Drill Sergeants piled out. Our trainers, the ones who would teach us everything we need to know, the ones whose hands we were in walked slowly up and down the line. Their uniforms spotless, pressed and sharp, their hats tilted all the same way, to shade their eyes, gave them a menacing look. They all looked to be about 8 feet tall, their boots so shiny you could see your face in them. They wore patches and badges that spoke of their experience for them. Combat veterans, Rangers, Airborne, Air Assault, all labels we hoped to one day procure in our quest to be the hardest of the hard. We piled into the cattle carts, all too scared to be uncomfortable. As we were shut into the hot dark trailers we heard the Drill Sergeants laugh.

The next time the door opened was when the yelling began. The stories we had heard were not exaggerations. Every word from the Drill Sergeant's mouths was a booming order shouted in a commanding voice at the top of their lungs. "Get in line!" "What are you looking at?" "Get down!" "Hey crazy!" These were the phrases we would hear over and over for the rest of our time there, that would be implanted into our heads and incorporated into our speech, even as we finished our time in the Army and became civilians once again. We were at an issuing facility, where we received even more gear and equipment to add to the already uncarryable load that we had. Never before in my life had I managed to attach so many bags, pouches and devices to my body and carry in my arms at once than that day, and I never have since been able to do the same. I had bags on my back, my front, over my shoulders, in my arms hanging around my neck. It would have been a comical experience if I wasn't scared out of my wits AND about to pass out from heat exhaustion.

As they hustled us out of the cattle cars, to the buildings where we would be living, our "battery area", as I was weighed down with ALL of my gear, sweating profusely, and actually trying to run while being screamed at to go faster, as if I could, I just remember thinking, this is exactly what I had expected. This is what, deep down, I had looked forward to. This is what would get me into the shape physically, and mentally that I longed to be in. Gone were the days of wasting away behind a desk, eating high calorie meals, trips to the mall for fulfillment with material goods. Now I would become a real man, not one of the corporate sheep, or the fat, sloppy flag waving Americans who were too scared to leave the comfort of their living room recliners for fear of whatever new terrorist threat FOX News was overhyping today. I would be able to maybe make a difference, if even a small one, in this crazy world. I would at least better myself, learn through experience how this world worked, see things that the average person only cared to see on television, miles away from danger.

The Drill Sergeants lined us up in a formation with yelling and screaming. We were told to line up our duffel bags end to end in front of us. I remember the sweat pouring down my face in buckets. I reached up to wipe my brow with my shirtsleeve, that was when a Drill Sergeant, half as tall as me and I am only 5'7" jumped up onto my packed duffel bag so he could stand eye to eye with me. With spit flying he screamed at me for a few terrifying seconds that "he did not tell me I could wipe my face!" How dare I! We were then shuffled into our platoons, and finally into our barracks. We were assigned a cot and a locker. Our cot and our locker would become areas of great pride as the weeks and months wore on, as we would pride ourselves in the tightness of the sheets on our bed, or who had the best looking girlfriends and wives hanging in our locker doors. Occasionally, we would return after a hard day of training to find a few bunks or lockers overturned, their contents spilled onto the floor because some dummy left their locker unlocked. I was that dummy one time, and I returned to find all my stuff all over the floor.

As the seasons changed from hot to cold, and September became October became November, soon it was time to go home for Christmas break. Two weeks of freedom were creeping upon us. The Drill Sergeants were giving us more freedom, and while we were still on lockdown, and we were still just privates in training, we were a little more respected. Finished with the Basic Training and onto our Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, we were learning the more technical job of manning the howitzer cannon and how we would be effective in battle. Supporting our infantry brothers in a jam by sending rounds downrange to suppress and destroy the enemy was what we did, and we would do it well. We left for two weeks leave for Christmas and New Years, to return for about three more weeks before graduation.

I remember graduation well. It was one of the proudest days of my life. I had worked so hard, spent weeks in the field, sleeping in the cold, in the mud, in the rain. I had roadmarched with 75lbs of gear on my body through all types of weather for miles at a time. I had fired countless rounds from my M-16 to perfect my aim. I had run countless miles in a formation during Physical Training, or PT, to get me in shape. I had rappelled off a 40 foot tower, ran obstacle courses, broken my ankle, been yelled at, done thousands of push ups, failed PT tests, passed PT tests, been deprived of sleep, all in pursuit of becoming a soldier. Just so I could become part of this institution that I might one day die for. My father, brother and uncle had come out to see me at family day and graduation. I was so proud, and I know they were so proud of me. I remember at the end of the graduation ceremony, as we, the new graduates rose sharply and exited the auditorium singing along to the Drill Sergeant's cadence. I stood tall as I saw my father sitting there with his big eyes and smile watching me, proud of his son. I had never been so proud in my life.

As I sit writing this, I am behind a desk, at a bank where I work (can someone say deja vu?). I am waiting to take a test to become a police officer in my hometown. There are moments when I think back to what i have done and I want to raise my hand one more time and do it all again. I won't do that though. I am a father now and I do not want to miss one moment of my baby girl's life, she is growing up so fast. I also do not want to spend another year away from my wife, who stuck by my side for all 16 months that I was in Afghanistan. I have fulfilled my obligation to my country, and while sometimes I feel that I have not fulfilled my obligation to myself, I know that looking into my daughter or my wife's eyes will bring me back home. Basic Training, and the Army was overall a good experience, and everything happens for a reason. I would not discourage anyone from joining, just be prepared when you do, and remember that recruiters lie almost all the time.