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Last Thought: The Cost of Being HOOAH!

July 27, 2020
Written by Keith Caraway

It seemed like only yesterday I was talking with David Johnson about a concept of a TV show. He asked for a topic that would be interesting to talk about, and I wrote down the title. To my surprise, he was very interested in going deeper into the subject. By enlarging the conversation, I showed a very different side of myself most people had never seen.

To my recollection, it is probably the longest I have ever told the truth. I also gave people the opportunity to really digest how you assimilate into the Army and transform into a standard Soldier. As you transform into this new identity you strive (to be all you can be) and to be honest you are kind of excited to find out how much you can be. I know I was very excited to be in an environment that makes tough guys. 

There were a couple of things that came across in the viewing that I should probably clarify. I made a point to highlight that I did not finish with my family at retirement.  I took that as a personal failure. It is just a fact. Just like peeing in the bed when you are 12. I do not desire any previous relationships I have had. It came across in the viewing as if I wanted to “get the band back together.” To that, I simply say, No. Also, I think I need to remind everyone that my goal now is to create stronger bonds with my children and create special new memories.  There are no two ways about it, I am a one-trick pony. I unapologetically chose the Army over my family. It was sort of the easy button. You do the same thing every day. When you do things before they tell you, you start to see the benefits of your works. 

The term “work-life balance” was something I only heard after I retired. I thought it was a joke. Then I realized people scheduled attending family events on their work calendar. It works great in the civilian world but everyone knows when you are coming up through the ranks, you need to be “Johnny on the spot” show up early, leave late, and do extra stuff.

I bring up work-life balance because people when I came up would shame you for leaving early or going to lunch with their spouse. Very similar to how they shamed you for going to behavioral health. Much has changed since the era I am reflecting on. I am glad to learn Soldiers are allegedly getting access to the resources they need without any adverse consequences.

Oddly enough, I do not care what people decide to do. I do not even care what I do. This is evident by my choice to wear crocs on the set. See below...

I just want to give you my story in hopes that it might detour you from making my same decisions. Notice I did not say mistakes. I believe I seemed as though I would not have made those same choices if I got another opportunity. Yes, I would. I understand the magnitude of that statement. Do not make it if you can not live with the repercussions. I was all in; it was just that period. We were all blowing up our families and running for the adrenaline.  Lastly, do not have any pity or give me some type of justification for the way things turned out. If I told how my life is now you would tell me to shut up and stop lying. 

Keith Caraway

Keith Caraway

Keith Caraway is a retired Master Sergeant, E8, United States Army. Keith Caraway joined the U.S. Army in 1999 and was sent to Germany. He returned to the U.S. in December 2001, spent some time in the army's Corporal Recruiting Program program, and soon began gaining multiple deployments, includ...

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