"Thank you for your service."
The phrase nearly every single military member, whether Air Force, Army, Navy, or Marine Corps, will hear sometime during their contract. It's a phrase that can sometimes catch us off guard. To some of us, not all of us, we find what we do is just like any other job. Yes, we are in the military but it soon becomes a day in - day out kinda thing. When "Thank you for your service" is said by a patriotic civilian it sometimes leaves us in a state of shock. Not really knowing how to respond. A casual, slightly awkward "Thank you" is thrown out as a quick response and we go our seperate ways. In the end it ponders our minds, at least for me first hand. I start to think of what I actually am doing in the Military? What or Who I am actually serving? And why do I deserve a thank you? A little background on my military career so far. I joined the Air Force June 18th 2012. I was fresh out of high school and wanted to do something bigger than myself. After 6 months of training I was off to England to my first unit. I am a Crew Chief (mechanic) on the HH-60G Pavehawk helicopter. Our helicopters are used for Combat Search and Rescue operations, meaning if a military member gets injured in combat, our helicopters go pick them up and bring them back to safety. I deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from May - September 2013, by the end of our deployment our unit had contributed to 22 lives saved, 100+ patient transfers, 2 POW transfers, and 3 Fallen Angels brought back to base who were sent home with the highest honor. Since being stationed back here in the United States I have gotten thanked for my service almost everytime I go off base to get lunch while at work and I am in uniform. Just tonight (Feb. 26th) a husband and wife insisted they paid for my dinner, and that's not the first time that has happened. People of all different types have thanked me. From little children, college students, to past war veterans as well. But why though? What have we done that deserves a thank you? I will never think that I deserve anything because I am in the military. I shouldn't be shown to the front of the line, given discounts on foods or goods, be given priority over other people, or even deserve to be thanked. Is it an extremely nice gesture, but in my mind no one made me to take this path in life. I'm just doing what I signed up to do. But then one day it hit me. What if I never joined the military? How would I view what they do for us? Answer was simple. I would feel compelled to thank them in any way possible, whether it be paying for their meal at random, or letting them jump in line so they can get to where ever they may be going. I thought of what they probably gave up joining the military. Most probably left behind family and friends that they will only see once in a while. Some gave up their college degree or schooling to serve. Some gave up future careers in the pursuit to serve their country. Then the thought of what they give up while in the military came to mind. Leaving families for deployments, losing relationships because of deployments or work scheldules, working overtime to get the job done even though no extra pay will be had, and ultimately some lose friends/brothers and sisters to war or other tragic events, something ultimately they will hold with them for the rest of their lives. After all of that was processed it became clear why some people out there care so much about the military members. Maybe they know what it's like through having a family member in the military, maybe they were military and know first hand of the sacrifices made, or maybe they truly love America and it's protectors. Whatever your stand point on the wars we are fighting or the places we are in, it doesn't matter as much as the people who are willing to give it all for their country. So next time you see a military member. Give them a quick "thank you." It's that simple yet brings great pride in what they do to light. -Taylor "The Unapologetic American"