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More than a uniform

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – I tell a story everywhere I go and let people know who you are and what you are about. I showcase your career field, what organization you belong to and how long you have served. I also proudly display which wars or campaigns you have served in and show off your last name.

Service members young and old put me on for special occasions. Some people like to show me off in Veterans Day parades, while others put me on at Memorial Day observances. I let the world know you are part of something bigger than yourself and you are not just an individual, but someone who comes from a long line of tradition.

When worn, I instill a sense of belonging and pride. My presence represents a way of life that few have chosen to pursue. Most people don’t truly understand what I stand for.

For the chosen few who have earned the right and privilege to wear a military uniform, they will go through many phases of understanding and acceptance as to what it means for them to wear the uniform. In time, they learn the significance of the uniform and understand that it’s an honor to represent a specific set of values and symbolize the defense of a nation, esprit de corps and service to the United States of America.

Early in my career, I was shaped by great leaders who instilled pride and taught me how to wear the uniform and serve with honor. Wearing the uniform has truly been an honor for the last 27 years. As military members, we represent those who have come before us and are charged with shaping the next generation. It is a herculean feat that cannot be taken lightly, and to top it off, it’s a no-fail mission.

In choosing the military as a lifestyle, we volunteer to live our lives by a higher standard that most can’t even imagine.  So, the next time you put your uniform on, think about why you do it and who you are doing it for.