In November of 2006 my active duty id card expired. It was the first time since I was ten that I didn't have a military issued id card; prior to ten I was a dependant but not old enough to have a card.
There are things about being a civilian I like, but of late I have been thinking about things I miss.
1. I miss not worrying about medical care. Sure they have middling care- they misdiagnosed a tear in my hip for three years. But when it was time for your annual dental exam, you got an email telling you the time and day to report to the dental clinic with a reminder that if you didn't go you'd be awol. I never worried "is this covered?" and knew they would try to determine the root of my problem and find a solution.
2. I miss having sick call available. You know, when you're sick and need to see the doctor, but if you called for an appointment they'd say, we have an opening in three weeks. Sick call and same day appointments were a great way to get some anti biotics or to excuse you from work if you were contagous or something like that.
3. I miss the family feel of the military. When you're in the military, you're part of a group, a family. There is really nothing else like it. If you need something, say, a place to stay while you recover from wisdom tooth removal, or a hand to move from one apartment to a cross town apartment- there's always someone willing to help. Each branch has some sort of loan closet for families in transition. If you've just moved somewhere and your boxes of stuff haven't arrived, it's nice to know you can get some pots and pans to get you through the week (the temperary living quarters sometimes have a pot, but usually not several). I've seen some family centers with rooms full of things for the new families or families falling on hard times.
4. I miss the unit cohesiveness. Sure, there were folks you didn't like and all. But mostly you kept your eyes on the mission and came together to get your deliverable "on target, on time." There was a bond between us, one shared over desks and while running at morning workouts. The social aspect of workouts I miss alot too. You wouldn't think you'd be too chatty at 6 am while doing jumping jacks, but there was always plenty of chatter.
5. I miss the recognition. I don't mean that I want people to stare at me like I'm famous, but there was a sort of respect that came with people recognizing you as a military member. There was also this sense that no matter where you went, you'd find someone who was military to relate to. The other day I saw someone paying with a USAA card. That's my bank, too. It's a bank you can only use if you were/are military. I almost said hello. But then remembered that I'm in the city and city folk don't chat with strangers and most certainly not about the bank card being used to pay for that latte.
Most people are suprised to know I wore a uniform, that I ever pulled a trigger (I really really stunk at that, btw), ever sat in a C-130, or crawled in dirt (basic training requirement).
There's plenty that I don't miss, too. But today I'm thinking about how glad I am to have had the experience.