Learning As We Grow: An RSS Employee's Story
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
I was 19, glued to the window, and the 737 kept a steady descent down into San Diego International Airport. I remember the metallic taste of regret in my mouth as that poof of smoke blew out behind the wheels and we taxied to the terminal. I’d just left home in Texas for the first time, leaving behind my loving and safe home “to travel the world and have adventures.” At least that’s what I hoped was happening. The skinny bald recruits of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego sprinting by the runway chased by screaming Drill Instructors didn’t look like they were adventure bound. A few hours later with a shaven head, shuffling in line clutching an impossibly heavy sea bag stuffed with uniforms and flashlights and boots, I was sure I’d made a terrible mistake. Fast forward to checking in to my first unit, sitting on the tiny island of Okinawa in the Pacific, sweating through the wool green pickle-suit and dragging those not so heavy anymore sea bags stuffed with everything I’d picked up since that night in San Diego. More dragging bags, late nights illuminated by flashlights, more hurry up, more wait, more friends and more fights. Life in the Corps dragged by at a snail’s pace, but at the same time was a whirlwind of activity. Looking back, they were the best days, and the worst days. Through it all, time moved too fast to ever settle in place. In a flash, I was driving my truck out of the gate of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for the last time. I jumped into the world of government contracting… it seemed like a safe place to start an inventory of my life while I waited for the next move. All of the sudden, I found myself with free time… and alone. The friendships held together by shared misery and long hours faded as I was faced with new challenges and left to my own devices.
With new challenges came new opportunities and new joy. A baby on the way, a phone call for a job back down South, and I was loaded up and driving back down South to Stennis Space Center on the border of Louisiana and Mississippi. I didn’t know it yet, but I’d found my new tribe. My new job was full of people like me. GWOT vets, guys who knew what it was to lose people, to love your brother, to work your 8-5 like people’s lives depended on it. Here I am now growing down in Mississippi. I never thought I’d live here, I’d never heard of Ready Support Services or half of the government customers we support. Life is good! To those service members dreading your transition, and the inevitable loss of purpose you will feel when you take off your uniform for the last time, have hope. Look for the people who share your values and give as much as you do. They are out there! With new challenges, comes new opportunities and new joy. You will find your people, and you’ll put down roots and grow in ways you never could in uniform.
Written by John White, An RSS Employee.