I was scared to death. I had to be at the military entrance processing center, known as a MEP, at 5am.
The Air Force recruiter had put me up at a motel with a bunch of others who were going to be “In Processing” the following day. I was scared to death. I joined the military on my own, but I was still scared to death because everything was about to change.
My mom dropped me off at the motel around 6:30 in the evening. I had nothing but a workout bag with a few changes of clothes and some shampoo. I didn’t need anything more than a few pairs of underwear. In 48 hours I would have a new wardrobe anyway.
Around 11pm I called my mom. I was already homesick and I hadn’t even left home yet. She came back up to the motel to say good bye one more time.
The following day I was standing in line, with nothing but underwear and socks. I was weighed, poked, prodded, and poked some more. They made sure I was “fit for military service.”
And I was!
I was then funneled into a room that was way nicer than most of the rooms in the MEP Center, and spoke the words that so many people before me have said:
I, Mark Barlet, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.
And so it was.
I went from a kid who had just finished high school to a plane ride to the dead center of Texas to basic training. I went from Mark to Airman First Class Barlet.
On this day we designate to salute our nation’s bravest souls, I ask that find someone in your life that can tell you a very similar story and tell them thank you. Remember the vets who have fallen, but also those who are still with us.
AbleGamers salutes all veterans you and old, male and female, able and disabled, and all who will yet choose to serve. We honor you this and every day throughout the year. Be well. We stand with you.