This article is dedicated to all veterans, active and reserve personnel. The train was speeding at an uncontrollable rate; the passenger was instructed to hold onto her seat. Suddenly, the loud screech of the breaks tore through the air and nearly split the eardrums of the lone rider. The train was my future as a 2nd Lieutenant, I was the passenger. Greetings, my name is Candice Henley. I attended Officer Training School (OTS) for the United States Air Force. The original plan was that I would be commissioned that December then currently stationed at Langley AFB in Virginia. However, God had a different plan for me. During my time at OTS I discovered that I was gifted with a great strategic mind but cursed with an over analytical mind. Thus, I was unable to pass certain academic tests and recycled into the next class. When I was given the news that I was recycled, inside I felt as though a part of my future died. Then, when I was told that I would be loaded into a lower flight, it was like being resurrected?briefly. Somewhere between my time in purgatory, or, the recycled flight, and actually going home, something told me that there was something else I had to do. Then, when I was in my new flight, it was as though I, no matter what I did, could not do anything right. I began to feel like I no longer belonged in the Air Force. One night I called my family and found out my mother had been seriously ill, and that my sister had not been in school for the past few weeks. Because of this, I lost focus, and was unable to pass my last academic test. At that point I eliminated myself from training and promptly returned home to take care of my mother.
Before getting the news about my family, however, I purchased a plane ticket to return to Alabama after the Christmas break under the slim belief that I could actually make it. The ticket was for a two-part flight that broke in Atlanta on the morning of January 6th. Since my sister's school was out for the Christmas break and my father was on vacation, I decided to go to Atlanta to spend a few days with friends. While there, I attended a church where the preacher, Bishop Eddie L. Long, said some things during his sermon that still stick with me to this day. His words were, "All things you have done, decisions you have or have not made, add up to this moment." In the breathtaking silence of thought as those words rippled across my consciousness like a pebble tossed onto still waters, my sight was suddenly bombarded with images. Breathless and still, I thought about my sister and how she would get to school. I then thought about my mother and who would take care of her.
Although I no longer wear the uniform, I still aim high. I presently work part time in research while writing novels and poetry, my mother is getting better and will soon walk again, and my sister is getting outstanding marks in school. I may not have graduated, but I am thankful for making a positive influence on the lives of people in classes 04-02 and 04-03. By the time I was recycled, everyone in my flight, before leaving a room would say, "See you soon" instead of goodbye. I used to, and still, do that because my belief is 'where is the good in goodbye if the person is not returning?' Instead, I say 'see you soon,' to leave behind the hope of meeting again.
So, to all those who are in OTS right now, struggling and fighting a seemingly hopeless battle, as long as you can stand, stand tall and take the lead. For all those in any basic training environment that makes you feel like giving in, don't quit, for as long as you can make a fist, you can fight. Finally, for those of you who have been recycled, and think your lives have come to a screeching halt, think again, because there is life after OTS. See you soon.
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