As I was filling out the call shift application I came across a section that I answered in the negative 16 years ago when I applied for the hospital system when we moved to the South.
Of course, it was pen and paper then.
The section asked about military history and if I was active, retired, disabled.
The answer is none of the above.
And that may be why I have been hesitant to claim that I am a veteran after nearly 30 years.
I was in the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps while I was in college.
In fact, I had an immense scholarship from the Air Force for a private Jesuit university in the Midwest.
I was a year and a half in, with full intentions of going the distance in my Air Force career.
I was going to be a BSN.
I was going to graduate a lieutenant.
I was in the dorms, enjoying classes, including clinical.
When I fell.
The stairs were ripped up.
I can see how this happened.
Who takes the stairs?
The ROTC people do.
Any chance to exercise, including getting up at 0600 to work out with the Army ROTC.
I did a lot of damage to my labrum on my left shoulder because I was holding onto the railing as I was going down the stairs to the communal television on the first floor.
I had the first of two reconstructive surgeries over Spring break, three weeks later.
I could no longer do push-ups.
And sprinting hurt a hell of a lot.
And I was medically DQ’ed that summer.
This was before 9/11.
This was after Desert Storm.
This was before Afghanistan.
They decided I was too much trouble, I guess.
I was shown the door, stripped of my scholarship, and given a bill for all that had been spent on me.
It took me 10 years to pay off.
I graduated from a community college 5 years later, with my ADN.
After 9/11, when I went to a college fair at the community college I went by the Air Force booth.
They assured me I would be welcomed back.
But that I would have to get my BSN.
And they would not forgive the scholarship repayment monies that I still owed and was chipping away at.
I declined, as I would essentially be enlisting.
And I would not become a lieutenant until I graduated with my BSN.
This was before bridge programs made it so easy.
I didn’t get my BSN for an additional 15 years.
I feel ashamed to claim that I was a veteran.
Today is the Air Force’s birthday.
I would have made a great officer.