After high school graduation, my classmates and I all went separate ways in our new adult lives; we all began the next chapter of our adventure-filled story. Some of us, like me, went off to college — whether it be in state, out of state, or community. Some of us took a year off to travel or take a breather. Some of us went straight into our profession in the work force. And some of us decided to work to save up money for either schooling or housing or what not. However, some of us joined the military.

I come from a military family. Both of my parents were in the Navy, and I have relatives that have served in pretty much every branch of the military. I even plan to join the military after I complete medical school. So, it's pretty safe to say that I have the utmost respect for our nation's military and those who serve or have served in it. That's why seeing people go into the military straight out of high school make me want to say "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart.

There are an abundant amount of things someone can choose to do after high school, but out of all of those options, you, for some reason, decided to join the military and protect our free country. It doesn't matter how you ended up here; whether joining the military has been your longtime dream, or you didn't get into or didn't want to go to college or even if you didn't know what else to do with your life after high school. The only thing that matters is that you are here.

Out of all the roads to take, you took the road somewhat less travelled by by people of our age. In a matter of weeks or months, you went from being a kid in high school to a full-fledged adult, suiting up for one of the bravest jobs one can have. You are expected to know how to operate weapons and vehicles and are held responsible with important and delicate information. You are held accountable for such great responsibilities at such a young age. You don't have to be here, but you are. And I appreciate that. It's a big transition, and pretty life altering. You chose to put the people of this country before yourself, and you stepped up to the line of duty. It is true, that not all heroes wear capes; some of them wear uniforms.

Looking back at some of the kids I went to high school with that ended up joining the military reinforces how proud and thankful I am for them. I saw boys that turned into very respectable men. I saw girls that I wasn't ever too sure about turn into beautiful, strong, independent women who are on a clear path to success. I saw kids who used to act a bit juvenile step up to the plate and become responsible, active, contributing members to society.

You all who joined the military out of high school shine a light so brightly in representing our generation and our country. Thank you for making that brave decision to join the forces. Thank you for being a part of the team that helps protect the freedoms of myself and the people of this country. And thank you for making me even more proud to be an American. I thank you, and your country thanks you and all those who have served, for your service.