I’d like to take this opportunity to say Happy Veterans Day to those of you out there who have served in the military, or are currently serving. A special shout-out to those stationed in the many bases in Hawaii! Having spent a total of five years in the islands thanks to the Navy, I know it can be a lonely experience sometimes. But there are people who appreciate you, as evidenced by the many companies that offer V-day specials to vets, active duty, and their families. Then again, as luck would have it, a lot of these chains aren’t even located on Hawaii. My coworkers and I used to look at the “Veterans Day Specials!” fliers handed out by MWR with a mixture of irritation and sadness.
But in all seriousness, although it may seem like a lot Hawaii residents see the military as a nuisance, there are some who are proud of our servicemembers. One of my favorite moments from my time there was when an elderly lady approached me, a young Naval Flight Officer at the time, and asked if she could shake my hand. It made her happy to see young people find success, she’d told me, because it gave her hope that her own grandkids could similarly find a way to make something of their lives. I’ve seen from my family members who spent their whole lives in Hawaii that it can be easy to fall into the rut of “grow up – go to school – move back home and sit around.” Lather, rinse, repeat for generations. I’ve met people who have never left the island, not even to go to Kauai or Maui! The military can give people a chance to break that rut. I know I’ve been able accomplish life goals and visit places I never thought I’d see, and despite my unhappiness at being forced back to Hawaii for the last two years of my career, I will always be grateful to the Navy for the opportunities it’s given me.
That said, those opportunities don’t come without a price. If it were easy, everyone would be signing up! It’s hard being in the military and you have to sacrifice a lot in the name of being a part of something greater than yourself. So for those of you who have served, and those who continue to serve our country, I cannot thank you enough. Happy Veterans Day, and stay safe out there.