Reflecting on my Career

Every now and again it's good to sit down and reflect on one's career. Many of us do this at the yearly anniversary, so today I reflect on 17 years of active Naval service and where to go from here.

The biggest question in my career has always been how long do I plan on carrying on with this thing? For a long time I assumed it would be 20 years and not a day more. The thing is that I had always wondered what I would do after the Navy. To me, the Navy was always what I was doing now, but not my actual life. So it was always important to me to plan for the next step. I am signed up for Troops to Teachers in at least three states (and still getting emails from them) and I got my Masters of Arts in Religion...all based on what I MIGHT do after the Navy.

This is the attitude of a junior sailor who plans to get out after one or two tours. I think that since I displayed that attitude early in my career, I had never made the switch to a career mindset. Thankfully, I had some exceptionally strong mentors who guided me even when I couldn't see where I was headed.

One of those men is James Edwards, a Master Chief who is scheduled to commission as a Chief Warrant Officer in November. Like father like son, I suppose, I follow his steps. In this case, very literally as I commission one month after he does. He was the one, when I was a Petty Officer First Class, who taught me to treat the Navy like I was staying in it forever instead of just the current tour. That mindset has paid me back tenfold since meeting James.

That mindset came to it's fruition a few months ago while I was finishing up one of my last seminary classes. I was again assuming that I was just a few years away from not being a sailor anymore when it finally hit me that God has kept me in the Navy and directed my career path. Even when I tried to derail things a little over a decade ago, God has kept me stable.

Now I don't think in terms of how soon will I retire. Instead, now I think in terms of how long can I go and what can I do while I'm here? And good thing too. I'm guaranteed to go to 23 years since I'm accepting the commission as a CWO. Looks like I'm in it for the long-haul!

My wife and little ones know that I'm a Navy man and that I deploy, and they support it. Everyone except Hannah has been through at least two deployments. I expect we'll make it through many more. I try to be as involved as possible while in port and even on deployment. I'm so grateful for a dedicated and supportive family. It is what makes the difference. I see some poor guys who don't have supportive families and I can see the additional stress it puts on the career and family. Alicia has been a constant companion to me through this. She and I have been together for 13 of my 17 years. It's been a good ride.

So 17 years down...somewhere between 6 and 16 to go!

2 comments:

Rick said...

Do you know how to contact James Edwards? I went to FC A and C school with him in 1993/1994 and would like to send him some well wishes. I'm not entirely certain that we're talking about the same guy, though. When did you serve with him? I think he spent much of his later career in Yokosuka.

Dan Smith said...

Hey Rick, I think we're talking about two different guys. He is in CWO academy right now after commissioning as a CWO3. I served with him in San Diego from 08-10 or thereabouts.