When we think of a veteran, we often think about someone who transitioned from the Military to civilian life.  As a veteran helping other veterans transition, I often think about who they are today, or who they desire to be tomorrow.  

At the Ambitious VET Network, we have exclusively made it our business to help Ambitious Vets transition out of the uniform.  We support them going from Super Man to Clark Kent.   

But what if there was a second layer to the transition that began so many years before our EAS (End of Active Service) out of the Military? 

What if it began much sooner?  Let’s do some time travel and think back to the moment we raised our right hand at MEP (Military Entrance Processing).  We took that first step to become Super Man.  What did we want for our life back then?  What dreams, desires, ambitions did that person have?   

To be honest, I hadn’t thought about that moment in a long time, but once I started to ask these questions a flood of feelings, thoughts, and memories came rushing back.  

As a Marine the yellow footprints and doors we walk through are a symbol to the transition from who we were, to the Marine we will forever be.  

What about the next moment when we graduated boot camp?  For a Marine, our Super Man moment is getting our Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.  I remember like it was yesterday looking up into the bleacher seeing how proud my family was and especially my dad.   

It was like stepping into a future version of myself that I hadn’t yet met until that moment.   

Why is this reflection important for veterans?  I believe that in these moments are the breadcrumbs to a life that is waiting for us when we transition back into the civilian life.   

I think it’s important to remember who you were before boot camp to reflect on how far you have come.  We often reflect on what we don’t have in our life, or what we have not accomplished, but if we time travel back to that moment, we see a life that most likely took a 90-degree turn towards a new future of personal growth.   

Once I started to reflect on the four years before my transition, I began to see a different ending to my story.   

Stories can inspire change, but lasting change only happens when we recognize that we are the hero in our own story.  

“If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author.” —Mark Houlahan 

I challenge you to no longer think of your transition like the one from a member of the military to the civilian world.  Think about it as the next stage of a dream for a more significant life that started when we raised our right hand and walked across that parade deck.   

Step up and become the hero that the younger version of yourself was looking for to be.  Remember this proverb, there are only two good times to plant a tree, 20 years ago and today.

By: Ben Killoy, Military Veteran Dad Podcast, Marine Corps Veteran

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