Why am I ashamed to claim that I am a veteran?

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.

Was I?

Today is the Air Force’s birthday.

Happy birthday.

I would have made a great officer.

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