By Stephen King
Five months ago, I walked up the white staircase leading into the Dog Tag Inc. Fellowship classroom for the first time. I had just left a cushy office job that gave me almost everything I thought I needed. It was an interestingly ambiguous job, as the Social Media Manager for an international police organization. Yup...that's a real job. I had a set schedule, great colleagues, and work that satisfied my monetary responsibilities (with enough left over to enjoy being a millennial in our nation's capital).
However, every day that passed was another day I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do.
My military career took me to Iraq and back, twice. Runnin’-and-gunnin’ with the best of them, I had the opportunity to make some great friends and lose even better ones along the way. Maybe that’s what made the military lifestyle so alluring? I could do really cool and awesome things with some of the greatest people I will ever have the privilege of knowing. The experiences we shared and the time spent together, in both the best of times and the worst of times, are some of my most cherished memories. It's a feeling I will spend a lifetime chasing.
I credit Dog Tag Inc. with connecting me back into the military and veteran community I knew so well. As I begin to learn what it is to be a small business owner, I feel comforted. I know that because of the program’s curriculum, I am more than capable to meet any challenges ahead. There will be many. I am prepared to struggle, and I am prepared to fail. To be honest, I fear the feeling of boredom and mediocrity more than I do failure.
People join the military for many reasons. Some join to pay for school, others for the glory, and some to travel the world. I like to think a common denominator among all the reasons to serve our country is the burning desire to do more.
I volunteered to spend a year in Baghdad because I wanted to do more. I was suffocating at my old office job because I wanted to do more. I consider myself lucky–– because of this fellowship program, I am surrounded by people doing more. Finally I’m doing more, too.
Stephen is an Air Force veteran who will graduate from the Dog Tag Fellowship program in June 2018. To learn more about Stephen and other Winter 2018 Dog Tag Fellows, click here!