People join the military for many reasons. Patriotism, service to others, desire to visit foreign lands, good pay and benefits are just a few of the reasons. Of course, I share similar reasons. However, for me, it's been about adventure, education, and increased opportunities.
First, the Navy has provided wonderful adventures. I've been fortunate enough to visit the Canary Islands (Christmas 1996), Italy (New Years 1996), Djibouti, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Guam, Korea, Japan, and France. I've navigated a 53' Morgan Out-Island Ketch up and down the Atlantic Coast for a summer (can you say fresh fish BBQ?). Earned qualification as a Navy Diver...Learned to work with ordnance...Stood between the #1 and #2 catapult aboard an Aircraft Carrier while two jets powered up and launched...Received "honorary Naval Aviator" status having completed a carrier catapult "shot" and an arrested landing...Conned a ship through the Suez Canal and driven small boats at high speed. And...The adventures will continue.
Second, I love education and the Navy has provided it to me in spades. It would have been difficult for me to attend Notre Dame without a Navy ROTC scholarship. However, the gift of education didn't stop there. When I left Active Duty, the Mendoza College of Business (Notre Dame MBA) program nominated me for the William G. McGowan Fellowship because of the leadership experience I'd gained while in the Navy. Today, I'm earning my second Masters Degree while attending the Army Command and General Staff College. In short, I value education and the Navy has either directly or indirectly paid for my B.A., MBA, and MMAS.
Finally, no other organization for whom I've worked has provided me nearly the opportunities to grow. Simply put, I can think of no greater reward than the opportunity to lead America's young men and women. The fact that the Navy allows (even encourages) me to have such an honor will leave me forever indebted.
So there you have it...I've received more than I could ever give back...So, the next time you see me and want to say "thanks for your service," let me thank YOU first. Without the Public's support of our military, I could never have enjoyed such a wonderful experience.