The other day my son Josh asked me “Dad what kind of job are you looking for?” I told him honestly I didn’t know. What I do know is whatever job I find, I want to like going to work again and more importantly love coming home afterwards. I spent thirty years being responsible for my actions, the soldiers under me, and millions and millions of dollars worth of equipment. My decisions, right wrong or indifferent, ultimately affected the guy down where the boots meet the pavement. Not only was I responsible to the Army but to my family by making the almighty dollar to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. I owed my family a living they were accustomed to and didn’t want that to change until all had graduated from high school.
It’s not that I’m afraid to step forward and lead again it’s more like I need a break from the stress that I was under. I always said to the soldier “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine”! After I barked I almost always gave them my best effort to help resolve their crisis. I wasn’t aware of the stress I was under until after I retired. Since my retirement from the Army both my cholesterol and blood pressure have dropped to the normal levels. I no longer lie awake at night worried about what I did or what I have failed to do to take care of my soldiers and my family. I no longer call my work phone to leave messages pertaining to tasks that came up since I left work for the day. Nor do I send text messages or E mails to myself with the top 5 things you need to accomplish while you’re at work. E mails are now fun for the most part although I still delete the ones that say “forward to 10 of your best friends or else!” No more meetings that were moved up 2 hours that you never knew were happening in the first place. What matters now is me, my wife, our family, friends and the rest of our life.
It’s not that my soldiers don’t hold a place in my life because they do and always will. I will always remember the soldiers, their families, and those that gave of themselves in order for me and my fellow Americans to enjoy the life that we have. Soldiers that are serving and have served are my family and I will always have a place for them at the dinner table. You can’t be a soldier for as long as I have and just walk away like it was nothing.
My life now is different than before. I get emotional more frequently and my heart is filled with pride as I watch my kids grow. My eyes moisten when patriotic songs are played, a soldier dies, or a little kid waving an American Flag welcomes his dad/mom home from a deployment. I still regret the times I missed being there for my children but I plan to be there for them tomorrow and the day after that. I look forward to family get-togethers, phone calls from the kids and family time up north at the cabin.
What’s funny is I just now realized I really was a soldier not just a supply guy. I spent years trying to get out of uniform and now that I’m out I miss it. In the past it took me forever to get into the uniform at work but only seconds to take it off. I can’t find the words to explain how I belonged to such an organization but spent my time on the outside looking in. My job was about giving the soldier the tools to do their job, teaching them to do the right thing and making them accountable for their actions and equipment. Being deployed took me to a different level and was definitely an experience I will never forget. It gave me comfort knowing after years of preaching to the soldiers I was able to practice what I had preached. I miss the soldiers I served with and the feeling of belonging to something great. I miss giving of one’s self to your soldiers and your country.
Deployment’s taught me about me an awareness that I had needs to. Somewhere along my 30 year journey I had forgotten who I was although I had many titles; husband, Sergeant Major, soldier, father, counselor, mentor, uncle and brother. Somewhere, somehow “Dave the individual” disappeared below the radar. For so long now I have lived my life for others giving of my time and energy to make those around me happy. I wasn’t alone; Susan gave of herself to support me, our families and the military. She was the CEO, accountant, financial planner, military spouse and business manager of “Crotteau Enterprises” for the past 30 years.
From day one, we’ve had kids spending our time together serving family and country. I don’t want to sound selfish but it’s our time now to live, laugh and together pursue happiness. Our kids have their own lives to live now and are pursuing their dreams. We’re OK with that knowing they have all the tools they need to be successful. If a road bump in life occurs we will always be there for them.
To our family and friends our door is always open to you just call ahead so we can enjoy our time together. To the deployed soldiers sending back a snippet of their time at Mob station and in theater keep it up. We love hearing from you and will always keep you in our thoughts and prayers!
That is all,