This is from Erik. It’s a classic – read it all the way to the end.
Once again one of your posts has reminded me of a story. In this case it was your blog post from 10 May, ‘In lieu of a national emergency’. (Note: click here to read the story he’s talking about.)
People serve in the Reserve or National Guard for a wide variety of reasons. Although reasons for serving vary they often include service to country and community, tangible benefits such as pay and retirement benefits, and to the chance to enjoy that special camaraderie that is unique to the military. Also, by simply putting on their uniforms the rank, awards and qualification badges a Reservist or Guardsman wears are a validation of their service, expertise and achievement. Like active duty members, when a Reservist or Guardsman retires many feel a sense of loss as they leave behind a significant part of their lives. Of course there are other things that they miss as well.
I know of a Navy Captain who had been a drilling Reservist for many years. Weekend drills, the annual two weeks for Active Duty for Training along with the occasional 30 to 90 day periods of active duty had all had an impact on the Captain’s family. Certainly the time away from his wife and children was a hardship, but not as much as it was for active duty members. However, the pay from the Captain’s Reserve duty had helped cover the cost of college for his two children. With age 60 (and one half years) on the far, but “visible” horizon the Captain’s wife could certainly appreciate the future retirement benefit from his years of Reserve service. Now with the children grown and gone the Captain’s one weekend a month and two weeks a year Reserve duty provided his wife to develop and pursue new interests.
During one of the Captain’s drill weekends his wife received a call from a friend of her husband’s who was also a Reservist. The friend had called to make sure that the Captain got the word about a mutual friend’s retirement ceremony. The friend knew that the Captain would want to attend the retirement ceremony but as the Captain had retired two years ago, and was out of the official communications network, the friend wasn’t sure if the Captain had gotten the word.
Besides service to country, camaraderie and validation of service and expertise it seems that the Captain missed something else about his Reserve service. For two years after his retirement from the Reserves he continued to leave home one weekend a month and two weeks a year for “Reserve duty”. You can be certain that his wife made sure he got the word. She also told him about his friend’s retirement ceremony.