51 Year-old Soldier

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How many soldiers do you know who are 51 years old with 12 years of service? Not many, I’m sure. Most people my age who are in the military are either very close to retiring, or are very senior. I am neither.

I got out of the Marine Corps when I was 31 years old. I left for many reasons; first and foremost because I wanted my kids to be home and close to their grandparents. After I was discharged from the Marines, I worked an office job and I gained a lot of weight. I literally doubled my weight within 10 years. At age 48, I decided that I had to change something drastically or I would not live very much longer. A year after that, I had a crazy idea: maybe they’d let me rejoin the military to complete my 20 years of service. Fast forward two years, and here I am, a Staff Sergeant in the National Guard Field Artillery.

I have to say, I love it. It’s really a lot of fun, very rewarding, and fulfilling in a way I didn’t appreciate when I was younger. What’s even better is I’m a living example of what discipline and perseverance can do for you. It doesn’t matter how old you are: if you set your mind to getting healthy and fit, you can do it. I had diabetes, nerve damage, circulation issues, and horrible dental health related to the diabetes, yet I reversed ALL of them (and I am no longer diabetic!) through diet. Notice I didn’t say diet and exercise because I did no exercise to lose the initial 130 lbs. I only started exercising once I decided to join the National Guard.

I enjoy being a motivator. I enjoy helping others achieve their dreams and goals. I take my role very seriously, and I realize that while it’s a role I bring on myself, it’s one that is very important. It motivates me, and it keeps me honest. When I screw up, I post it. When I don’t live up to my own standards or expectations, I beat myself up and write about it as a way of keeping myself accountable.

If you’re over 40 and you think that something is out of your grasp or impossible, think of the 51 year old Staff Sergeant and the journey he took to get to where he is today. If he can do it, you definitely can.

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