By: Roy Stanley IV
I have never really considered myself a “military brat,” despite that being a pretty accurate description of what I am. It seems like my father has always been a part of the military in some way, shape or form. He joined the U.S. Air Force as part of his ROTC program in 1983, was a part of the reserves until 2013, retired as a colonel from the Air Force and is now working an intelligence contractor. To me, life in a military family just seemed normal. Now, the more I think about it, the more I’ve realized how much my father’s career and lifestyle in turn shaped my work ethic, the friends I had, the people I met and the rest of my life.
I was only six years old during the events of 9/11, so I don’t remember much about what happened that day. I do remember what came after. My father was deployed more times than I can count, starting in 2003. Usually he was gone for about six months at a time overseas, but the longest he was gone for was about a year when he worked at CENTCOM down in Florida. He was an intelligence officer for the Air Force and when I would ask what he did, he would tell me he was the one who found out where the bad guys were hiding. This sounded very interesting to young-me and would later serve as a catalyst for my interest in criminal justice and investigation.
Even when he was away we still kept in touch using Yahoo Instant Messenger. I still have the logs of our chats through IM and email – him asking questions about what was going on in my life and me asking about what life was like for him overseas. I remember counting down the days till he’d be back home, watching the clock the day of his return until he’d finally walk through the door loaded down with his luggage, and sometimes a gift from his deployment. I have a small collection of foreign currencies and various treasures from other countries lining my shelves at home that I imagine he picked up at some crowded Middle Eastern marketplace, and it’s because of this that I became so enthralled with traveling and seeing new, exotic places.
Pretty much everyone I knew growing up was in or connected to the military. Some had deployed, some had moved from around the country, some were in the Reserves and some had lost parents. I was completely and utterly engrossed in the military culture – I even rocked a buzz cut through middle school and part of high school (it didn’t turn out well). In my mind, family tradition dictated that I, too, would someday forge my own path in the Armed Forces, but at some point along the road I decided against it. I couldn’t tell you why I chose to write instead of fight – even now the answer eludes me. Despite not being interested in joining the military, my father managed to instill his military work ethic in me.
My father is one of the hardest workers that I know. He got shit done, got it done right the first time and expected the same out of everyone else as well. He was always pushing his limits, even when everyone else had already given up. As a kid, this was a nightmare scenario and led to some very heated debates when my brother and I would slack off. It wasn’t until college that I learned to respect and adapt parts of this work ethic after a great deal of nagging on his part. Even with this hard attitude he still managed to keep his sense of humor. We still share the same jokes from years ago all the time, and tend to use them way past the point of annoyance.
It’s because of my father that I am the way I am today. My sense of humor, my friends, my entire way of thinking has been shaped by his efforts in the military. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have been able to so easily have afforded college because of his G.I Bill. If not for college, I wouldn’t have found my way into writing and ultimately to ScoutComms. For all these things and more: Thank you, Dad, for helping this military brat become someone willing and able to fight for veterans like you and military families like ours.