The end of an era

The author at the Valhalla Project assisting with work on the greenhouse.

The author at the Valhalla Project assisting with work on the greenhouse.

Saturday, January 25th, 2014, was the end of an era for yours truly. It was my last official duty day as a member of the United States Armed Forces. As someone whose military career, although on again, off again, back on again, has spanned the last 28 years, I can tell you it was not an easy decision to make. Serving my country has brought me more pride than any other occupational accomplishment. But, today’s military simply no longer fulfills that need. It is a broken organization. In my opinion, it isn’t simply “war-weary” and bogged down, it is dysfunctional at all levels. From the Pentagon brass to basic training, it has allowed itself to become ineffective and problematic. It no longer feels right.

Leaving the military will impact me, as well as my readers, in various ways. First, and foremost, I no longer have to keep my mouth shut about many of the things I have yet to mention in articles. As a member of the force, I could be held accountable for my words and they could have impacted my career negatively. I am no longer bound by that guideline. No, I will not begin spilling classified information. But, I will be free to speak my mind about the current condition of my once beloved organization.

It also means I will have one less job to take time away from my adventures and my writing. So, expect to see more articles and more trips in the coming months as I adjust to having more free time. I should be able to get The Fireman-Book Two out by the end of the summer, if not sooner.

I hope you all bear with me as I adjust to necessarily placing the term “Former” in front of various aspects of my life. I believe that, for me, and those who care about me, it was the right decision. Over the years I wore the uniform, I met many interesting characters, many disappointing leaders, and quite a few people for whom I would gladly pick up a gun and stand beside. I have also shed blood, buried friends, and spent more than a few days wondering why I am alive while others are not. Of course, I will never find answers to some of those questions. But, I can dedicate that energy to helping others. It will be a new adventure. I hope you come along for the ride.

Ross Elder
Former U.S. Army
Former U.S. Navy
Combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom
Disabled Veteran