I look at this picture and I am reminded of all the years I spent away. At the time this was taken my team and I were in Africa. My wife was at home dealing with morning sickness. I found this bunny at the local USO on base and immediately nabbed it for my soon to be little girl. Two deployments prior I did the same thing in Iraq for my son. Ironically I snagged a lion at the time while I was on a FOB where the name directly translates to “the lion” in English.
Even while we were stateside we weren’t home. Our cycle was consistent, we would train for two weeks then be home for one. While we were home we were planning for the next trip. Planning included unpacking the last trip, packing for the new trip, figuring out all the paperwork for both trips, training to meet currency so you can go on the next trip, etc. Two weeks on one week off wash rinse repeat. Then the pre-deployment spin-up where you combine everything into a one to two week culmination event. Then deployment which was pretty consistently four months long.
I once manually added up my time away. I was at the unit for four years when I decided to add it up and I was away from home for three out of the four. My son had just turned four years old, and I was gone for three of those years.
Not gonna lie, that one hurt.
I then projected how much time would I spend away if I stayed the full 20 years. Going at that rate my son would be 18 years old and I would have been home for five years. I wasn’t ok with that. Keep in mind, this is during a time of war. Now that we are not at war things are a bit different. You will still deploy, just not as much. Times change.
At this point I volunteered to become an instructor at the PJ schoolhouse, I wanted to be home for my kids. Being an instructor in this environment has been both some of the most fulfilling times of my life and definitely the most frustrating.
I am not writing to deter you from joining. I am writing to show full transparency. There is a cost to what you are signing up to do. You will do some of the coolest things you don’t even know about yet. You will see some of the most amazing places in the world. You will also see some of the worst in the world. You will have unique experiences, some of them you will be able to talk about and others you wont. Some of it you wont want to talk about… But the cost is your time and your mental health.
Through all of this as you see there is very little time to focus on yourself. While we spend all of our time with the boys and we love it we ignore ourselves. It is important that you have friends outside of the military. It is important to take time away from work and re-calibrate yourself.
This is why I am reforming Guardian Fitness into Guardian Coaching. My goal is to create the best consulting and mentorship program in the world focused on fortifying your mind to endure. Through our personal stories we are hoping to impart lessons learned the hard way so you don’t make the same mistakes. Or if you encounter similar issues we aim to give you the tools you can use to find the best way through any situation.