|Me in 2006|
I am considering returning to military service in the Air Force Reserves (1 weekend a month plus 2 weeks a year). I served in the active-duty force for 5 years, 9 months before separating in 2008 to focus on family. I’m still not certain if I am going to go back in, but there are several compelling reasons: service to country, wonderful community, professional fulfillment, extra income, and health insurance among them.
As part of the process to pursue a position in the reserves, I had to complete a military physical. As a service academy grad, my experience was quite a bit different the first time around. I was 18 and went to the local hospital to complete the different aspects of the physical. This time, as a 32-yr old mother of two and veteran, I got up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to the processing site. I was the only prior service candidate there, thus I was the oldest person in the room. There were candidates for enlisted service in all the other services there, though the most were for the Army. There were five other women, so they kept all the women together for processing.
We underwent tests in hearing and vision, we had blood drawn, we had urinalysis testing, we had height and weight measured, and we also were tested in muscle group and joint maneuvers. Between prior service and childbirth, I was a pro at giving urine and blood samples, both of which were new for the rest of the group. Height and weight measurements, as well as the movement exam, were conducted in the group in bra and underwear. The things they make you do in bra and panties!–Power walk around the room. Walk heel-to-toe across the room while squatting (duck walking). Kick behind you like a donkey. And on and on. It was interesting hanging out in skivvies with a bunch of ladies ten years younger than me (the other five women ranged in age from 18-24 and none had given birth) and doing bizarre exercises, but it was also really cool realizing how comfortable I am in my own skin now. They were all so very insecure about their appearance, as I once was. I remember the open shower bays in basic training and worrying that others were looking at me. Those worries are gone. I did not have the best physique in the room (neither did I have the least fit), but I disrobed proudly. I’ve earned the loose skin and stretch marks on my body. I own these marks. Not only that, I have an incredibly hot husband that has seen me at both 125 lbs and 200 lbs (at the height of my second pregnancy), and he loves me unconditionally.
Since I have become so used to hanging out with women that have had similar experiences to me over the last few years, it was odd to be the “old, wise” woman of the group. The other female candidates asked questions about childbirth, questions about basic training, questions about service. I answered each honestly and thought to myself, Wow, I am so glad to be where I am in my life right now. I am so glad to be past that awkwardness, past those fears, and on to the next chapter, whatever it may be. I have lost many of my old insecurities, like appearance-related ones that I can’t change, and replaced them with more “important” ones–Am I being the best mother and wife that I can be? I don’t think I’ll ever stop being a worrier; it’s part of who I am. But my experience at MEPS this week made me realize that I’m pretty much at peace with my body now.
I love getting older. As my parents would say, it sure beats the alternative.