To The Friend Starting The Next Chapter Of Her Life With The National Guard

To The Friend Starting The Next Chapter Of Her Life With The National Guard

I wish you the very best at all times, and I'm always here when you need me.

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You were so nervous. You knew it wasn't going to be easy. It was even going to be your first time on a plane, along with your first time really being on your own. You may not have been 100% sure of what you were about to do, but I knew you were ready. I watched you grow throughout high school, especially our senior year, and I want you to know just how proud I am of you for making this life-changing career choice.

Joining the military isn't an easy choice, and boy, did you put a lot of time into your decision. I remember when you first mentioned the idea to me. I was surprised of course, but I never once doubted your capability. For a while, you continued to toss the idea around with your others, and eventually, you made your decision.

These next few months may seem like forever right now, but once you get into it, they're going to fly by. I can't wait for it to be May so I can hear about all of your adventures on one of our famous late night drives or Steak 'n Shake runs that usually end with us sitting in my driveway for hours talking, laughing and sometimes even crying. Summers were always the best with you, from trips to Cedar Point where I worked, Kalahari where you working, or the mall, of course. This summer, however, will be different. You and I will both have just gone through huge events, mine being my first year of college, and yours being boot camp. Even though we don't see each other as often as we used to, we're still close, and I admire that about us. No matter how many miles there are between us, I promise to always be here for you, at the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and everything in between.

So, through these next few months, just keep in mind that I'm right there next to you, and I will always be a text, Snap, call, letter or email away. It may seem tough, maybe even impossible at times, but you're tougher. You always have been. You have me and a whole party bus full of friends and family backing you up, and we all believe in you. Now, go show the National Guard what you're made of!

XOXO, your "twin," Ash

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Why Getting Away From Where You Grew Up Is Important

College is the perfect time to get away from home and go out into the real world.
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As you get older, life sometimes makes it hard for you to take control and go to the places you've only dreamed of. There's always a work meeting, ballet recital, or something to hold you back from taking that trip planned four summers ago. College is the perfect time to get away from home and go out into the real world.

It's important to get away from everything you know at one point in your life. There is a whole world full of risk, chance, and experience. The security you have in your hometown can be traded in for adventure and change. There's a time to try something new, learn something that blows your mind, or go somewhere that takes your breath away. That time is now, to feel like you are actually doing something worthwhile with your life.

It is important to get away from where you have grown up for some of your life. You need to grow on your own, without anyone there to tell you you're wrong or out of line being a certain way. The transition from high school to college is the gift of independence. You choose who you get to be without anyone holding your past against you. It's a do-over, a second chance after the mistakes and regrets you lived through in high school. Yet, being away from home has its drawbacks as you lose familiar faces, a steady schedule, and many creature comforts. But, all of these can be found in a new place with time. Leaving the place you grew up gives you another chance to grow again, without boundaries. Travel whenever you get an opportunity because it may not come again. Test your limits while living your actual dreams. Go out and explore the world—you're only here once and don't have time to take it for granted. Leaving everything you know sounds scary, but there are great memories to be made out there.

Whether this new place for you is two hours from home, or 20, it's different, it's exciting and it's change. It is important to get away from where you grew up and learn from the adventures you embark on. It is the best way to find yourself and who you want to be. It's what you'll remember when you look back on everything you've done.

Cover Image Credit: Madison Burns

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The Government Shutdown: Why We Should Be Rooting For It To End

There are people with families that are now suffering because of what is transpiring on the Hill.

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There has been a lot of debate over what this government shut down means for many as there has been a lot of back and forth on both sides of the aisle. We need to stop and take a look at the bigger picture and ask ourselves, 'Am I really thinking of this as a concerned citizen or am I thinking strictly on my party alliance's agenda?' Now here is something that many of us haven't considered and I'm not one of the many as I've been on the other side employed by the federal government, the government is run by people. Yes, that seems like an elementary concept, but it's not the people like President Trump or Speaker Pelosi you see on the news every day. No, I'm talking about your Tom, Dick, Harry and your Sally and Jane — those who aren't in the public eye all of the time that are working and now some of which aren't getting paid.

There has been a misconception on who is and isn't getting paid, the biggest of which is our armed forces. Here's a shocker for a lot of you. Not all are getting paid. Four of the five branches: the United States Army, the United States Navy, the Air Force, and our beloved Marines are all Department of Defense or DOD for short. These four are in fact drawing a paycheck as of right now. The fifth and most often forgotten about branch the United States Coast Guard is a part of the Department of Homeland Security and our Coastie men and women in blue are not getting paid. How does this happen you ask? The Department of Homeland Security is a lot smaller than the Department of Defense and The DOH was formed after 9/11 as the specific Department for the Coast Guard and your TSA officials- yep, the folks at the airport. That said, this is also one of the first organizations to meet the challenge of not getting paid during the shutdown.

So, on the first and fifteenth government officials normally get paid. The fifteenth of this month just happened and a lot of our Guardians (the last term that I had heard them called before I got out, Semper Paratus readers and my fellow Coasties), woke up to no money from the payment offices. So yeah, they are protecting us as of right now for free. Now they have to take out loans to provide for their families when they have done nothing wrong but defend our freedoms.

I remember not so long ago when I was 21 and in the United States Coast Guard and we were on the verge of a government shutdown. I was in Ketchikan, Alaska, and we were all gathered around the televisions watching the news and eating our dinners at the enlisted club on base holding our breaths because it was last day to go before we weren't getting paid that next paycheck. We were all sitting on pins and needles hoping they would reconvene and that President Obama (at that time) would make sure they would go back to work. We luckily saw that they would. The next day we were paid.

This is something that is bigger than your opinions on the president. It is bigger than your leanings. This is about the livelihoods of those who are doing what they can to serve us and to serve our country. We need to always keep that in mind- that just because there is a shutdown, someone is affected by it in some shape, form, or fashion. This is taking a toll on people's homes, people's livelihoods, their families. I have friends with spouses and children who are now taking out loans and are being punished for something they had nothing to do with. They didn't do anything wrong but their jobs. So, we all need to consider others when we hear the words "shutdown." We need to keep those affected this go around in our thoughts and in our prayers.

This could be any of us and it is a crying shame that people who took the oath of office to protect and defend us and the Constitution of the United States have to suffer because of fighting in the house at the capitol. They deserve better because all they did was care about the country and try to do something better for someone else and now they are being done wrong. Keep them in your thoughts and in your prayers. Hopefully, this will all end soon.

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