Life is full of decisions. I believe that the best decisions are made with the maximum amount of information available. This is how all decisions should be made. Other decisions are made on a whim, with little or no information. I have been told by many people in my life that when it comes to the important decisions in life, these are the decisions that I make, and more often than not, I live to regret some aspects of those decisions.
I had gone to the local recruiting office for the Navy early in my senior year of high school and told the gentleman behind the counter my plans of being a nuclear operator on a submarine. He immediately ushered me through all of the associated tests and paper work. Two short days later, I was in the delayed entry program. It was great. While everyone back in school was stressing out about where to go to school, I was living the worry free lifestyle of a high school senior who had the next six years of his life planned out.
Over the course of the next six years of my time in the Navy, not all went according to plan. I had joined based upon very few things that I had heard from recruiters and friends: lots of time off, seeing the world, and free college. None of the people that I had talked to were nuclear operators on a submarine, but I had figured the Navy is the Navy, so how different could their experiences be.
As far as time off went, I averaged over eighty hours per week on the boat while it was in port. Many of those weeks, I spent over 120 hours on board while in port. That is not a lot of time off. During my first five years in the Navy I did not see one foreign port. And when I finally did get to see the world, I was at work so m iuch, I did not have time to do all that I wanted in any of the places we visited. The only thing that did pan out for me was the “free” college. I say the Navy gave me money for college. Six years of depression and separation from my new wife is hardly free. My college education came at the price of my wife’s happiness. She still suffers side effects from anti-depression medication almost two years after being prescribed them. That is something that I did not anticipate, and if I had asked more questions before joining, I might have figured that depression is common among spouses in the Navy.
People often ask me if I would join the Navy over again if given the chance to go back. The answer I give is maybe. I would give it a lot more thought and consideration before making such a big decision that affects not only me, but those that I care for. I believe, now more than ever, that the best decisions are well informed ones.