The military is all he's ever known, joining at the age of 17, heading off to boot camp a month after graduating from High School. Our paths crossed a couple of years later when he was still a lowly A1C. It is hard to believe I've been along side him for almost this entire journey through the military. We've survived countless PT tests, EPR's, promotions through each stripe as an enlisted member, OPR's, ROTC, college graduation, pinning LT bars, pinning Capt. bars, 3 moves across 3 different continents, 2 deployments, completion of graduate school, and countless exercises and training hours dedicated to the protection of our country.
To say I am proud is an understatement. This road has not been an easy one. He has encountered barrier after barrier. People who doubted him, people who didn't think he could make it, people who weren't sure he had what it took. Through all of that, he kept his family in focus, his priorities in line, and did whatever it took to succeed. He is a role model. A true hero. That is why we are here today. At this milestone, wrapping up this chapter of our lives. Saying "adios" to the military and "hello" to the civilian world--for the good of our family, for the needs of our children, for the strength of our marriage, for the long term focus that is "Us."
While the unknown is not easy, retirement brings availability. Hours spent with our children, time to cheer our girls on at the pool, time to read with them, play with them, join them for lunch at school or cook dinners at night. Time to grocery shop, take care of the laundry, and tend to the children. He will no longer miss out on the "firsts" as he has so many times before. He'll see Gavin take his first steps, he'll hear his first words, he'll see the girls' first swim races, he'll watch their first practices and accompany them on field trips. We know the massive cloud of stress that hung above him will dissipate. We know more laughs will be heard, more smiles will be seen and more love will be shared as we have more time together as a family of five. And those are the simple reasons the decision to retire was an easy one, regardless of the unknowns that lie ahead. Family was his priority then and it has remained his priority throughout his service. Not everyone is able to say that, military or otherwise. I am proud of his 15 years of service, but I am even more proud of the unwavering, unchanging focus he has shown as a Dad and husband. He has earned this time and deserves this time. Congratulations, Chris. We love you and are so very proud.