The military – “It ain’t for wimps”

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robb Rigtrup
  • 306th Intelligence Squadron commander
At some point early in my career, my lovely wife Maddy went to some sort of event designed to teach spouses of military members about different programs available to help military families. While at the event she heard one of the presenters say, "The military -- It ain't for wimps."

Since then, that phrase has been one of the most quoted in my family in my 17 years of service. While there are many programs and opportunities available to ease difficulties associated with life in the military, I think there is great value in acknowledging that military life can be very tough. In fact, just acknowledging that sometimes things are difficult is a key to my own effort to be resilient.

To be resilient, to bounce back, is a skill that can be developed. It is also a choice. For example, my squadron, the mighty "Firebirds," deploy at a very high rate. Continuous, back-to-back deployments can be difficult. While one approach doesn't work for all people, acknowledging that what we are doing is tough, remembering that military service requires sacrifice, and remembering that we are here because we choose to serve causes people to straighten their backs a little, bow out their chest, hold their chin a little higher, and draw some more strength to endure tough times.

It is important to know that it is within our power to choose to stand tall, instead of choosing to bow to the weight of the burden. It takes a tough, patriotic, motivated person to serve in the military. One term that has stood out to me as I've read about military folks in history books is "long suffering." I believe the term fits and is a strength.

I think all these terms -- tough, patriotic, long suffering, and resilient -- apply to military families as well as the military member. While on one of several deployments in the desert my wing commander reminded me of the importance of our service by asking, "If we weren't out here doing this, who would be?" We are the ones who are willing to serve to support and defend. I'm proud to serve along with great Airmen and great Americans.
We aren't wimps.
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