Grateful to serve again
By Capt. Tracy Giles , 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 14, 2009
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- I had just completed five years as an active-duty officer in the Air Force and my mind was racing as I mulled over the offer placed in front of me.
"There are too many officers in your year group," I was told. "We are giving you the opportunity to get out with voluntary separation pay."
A few months prior to this conversation, I actually mulled over the thought of leaving the Air Force since my service obligation was completed. But this time, we, my wife, my kids and I, decided it would be best to take the offer - so I voluntarily separated after six years of honorable service.
This was not an easy decision for me, since I loved being in the Air Force and felt a great sense of personal gratitude knowing I was doing service for my country. I loved wearing my uniform and being called an Airman. I missed the camaraderie and feeling like I was needed to accomplish a specific mission for a greater purpose.
From a deployment to Iraq to missions in Europe, Africa and Korea, my service gave me experiences I would have never had in any other profession. In the year following my separation, I felt the void of not serving my country in the same capacity I treasured for the previous six years.
This void led me back to the service when I visited the Idaho Air National Guard's recruiting office at Gowen Field in Boise. I didn't hesitate to accept their offer to join as a part-time traditional Guardsman.
It was my desire to serve again that made my decision easy. In fact, it was my same desire to serve that led me to the Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps while attending college more than nine years earlier.
I have never regretted a day of my service and count myself lucky to have the opportunity to serve again. Strangely enough, I have completed one giant circle as I am currently serving as a Guardsman on temporary active-duty officer orders here.
To me, the privilege to serve is an honorable one and I am honored that I once again have the privilege to serve again. If you decide this is the time for you to leave the service, don't be surprised if you also find yourself coming back because you're driven by that same unquenchable desire to serve your country.
I know I didn't have to choose to leave in the first place, but I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have been given to be a part of this great organization and serve again.