My Involuntary Separation
On my last deployment to the Middle East, I was on a military extension for time. I was supposed to End Active Service (EAS) in October of 2017, but thanks to a deployment starting in early July of the same year, the military saw fit to extend me to support the unit with military operations; I was beyond happy about that, honestly. However, on deployment, the conversations with higher headquarters (HHQ) and career planners were either, “It’s still working” or “It’s on ‘their’ desk, we’re just waiting for a reply”. The objective of this reenlistment was three-fold.
One, this would secure employment and a lifestyle I absolutely loved and committed myself to both physically and mentally. Since I had already committed over 10 years to Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC) as a Critical Skills Operator (CSO), I knew in my heart this is what I enjoyed doing as it captured all forms of my personality and kept me very much engaged.
Two, the Marine Corps and Department of Defense (DOD) were supplying me with the financial Tuition Assistance (TA) program to dedicate myself to a promise I made to myself prior to entering service in 2005. I was a student with the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida with hopes of completing a four-year degree. However, with my commitment to the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and a war happening on two battlefronts in Afghanistan and Iraq beyond my grasp, I left. I disenrolled and enlisted in hopes of supporting my country with a war that we had designated as the ‘War on Terror’ following September 11, 2001 attacks on United States (US) soil. My degree and commissioned officer thoughts were placed on the back burner.
Three, the financial security for my family and their well-being meant the most to me. This is because I grew up in a relatively poor income family, with ten brothers and sisters, and a single, blue-collar income life. I did not want my family to have to endure the same lifestyle because of my choices or failures. Therefore, this was my responsibility to secure not only their future endeavors but those of my wife, Shiang-ling.
However, returning to the states in January of 2018 I still did not have an answer. What the hell Marine Corps! At this point, I became very serious about my possible transition into the civilian workplace and began all the necessary arrangements to make that process run smoothly in the event the undesirable result came back. It did. Additionally, I was still ill-prepared. Mid-February I received notification that my reenlistment had been denied and I had under two months to exit service after nearly 13 years of cumulative Honorable service. I was broken. Coming off of one of the best deployments of that career made the exit from service that much more bitter and the time from February to April 22, 2018 time warp by with a very overcomplicated, mandated, and subpar information guide to EAS. I was constantly angry and annoyed at the process, the massive rudder steer on my life, and the future well-being of my family. For the first time in a long time, I was afraid of the unknown.
After putting out resumes across the spectrum of federal, military-affiliated organizations, and civilian entity employment opportunities the same, I heard back… nothing. Silence. I was losing it. How could someone like myself, with so many military qualifications, a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis (SSDA) degree coming to fruition in December of this year, not receive word back? Needless to say, I was unhappy with life as the stress and burden of the financial world kept building on the horizon.
The Decision To Go Tiny
Fortunately, I had one hell of a partner in this life, my wife. She approached me with the idea of going tiny, Skoolie life, and nomadic lifestyle thoughts. I was hesitant at first, but after more than our fair share of research, we dove in. By mid-June, we had purchased a 2000 Thomas school bus in Oklahoma and drove it home to Hampstead, North Carolina. We started the development of thebhivefamily.com Skoolie life, blogs about life and our thoughts, and mid-July was our starting point.
To this day, I am still researching options for employment. I have secured a position within the Select Marine Corps Reserve (SelRes) with hopes of using this as a foothold to continue towards a retirement and additionally apply for a Reserve Commission with the military in the future. We’ll see if they’ll take this old dog then. Lastly, I’m happier. My family is developing a bond that I care deeply for as we are beginning to see each other more clearly now and learn who we each truly are. The homeschooling has made me realize how much I enjoy teaching and have begun looking into teaching online with universities that promote Veterans with degrees to enhance their goals of becoming an educator.
My final note is this, adaptability. As humans we enjoy routine, hell we crave it. Waking up at a certain time, knowing when is the best time to leave for work to avoid traffic, when the cafe puts out its fresh croissants, etc… Routine, in my humble opinion, breeds unawareness to a one time shot on life. This one life we live can either influence others that we interact with in any form or fashion or be routine. Choose to be unique, positive, caring, invested, and any other qualities that assist with an upward climb in your potential daily. I seek it out, and every day when I lay down tired from the day, I can smile deliriously and happily drift off with my core statement these days, ‘Instead of being busy surviving, get busy living’.