When I tell people I’m a veteran, I usually get a baffled look.
It’s as if they think, “This girl? She was in the military?”
To tell you the truth, I don’t mind that reaction; it makes me feel even more accomplished and proud of my military past.
I joined the military as a bright-eyed 20-year-old in 2012 and was shipped off to basic training shortly after. One memory I’ll never forget is the silent bus ride from the airport to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. The bus was filled with about 30 other nervous trainees who, like me, were questioning why they put themselves in this situation.
It was so dark outside, I could barely make out where I would be staying for the next three months. While I was looking out the bus window, trying to accept the fact that this would be my new home, an unsuspecting military training instructor jumped on the bus and began to yell at anyone in his line of vision.
No amount of YouTube videos I watched before joining the Air Force prepared me for this reality check. We all began to shuffle off the bus into different directions, trying to figure out what to do next. Shortly after, we were all in our bunks trying to sleep even though our adrenaline was at an all-time high. The next few months flew by. They weren’t easy, but they were well worth it.
I still think about the days I was in basic training. From making new friends I’d have for life to learning how to eat full meals in three minutes. These are memories I cherish and will never forget. Now, as a 26-year-old veteran, I still use the lessons I learned as a 20-year-old in basic training (not exactly the whole eating in three minutes thing though).
After separating from the Air Force, I struggled with transitioning back into civilian life. I didn’t have a degree; I was 24-years-old, and I knew I would be having a late start on most other people my age, who already had full-blown careers. No matter what obstacles I faced, I continued to push forward and not give up. Now I’m about a year away from earning my degree in journalism.
After separating from the Air Force, I felt like the prime of my life was coming to an end, but now, I know that I’m just getting started.
Virginia Murray is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, who is currently working on her bachelor's degree in communications at ENMU. She loves to bullet journal and do makeup and photography.