Large Decision Calculus: Equation on Why I Left 1,600 days before a $3.3M Retirement

With all large decisions in life, there is never one simple reason. Whether it is getting married, buying a house, running for political office or in my case leaving Active Duty to join the Maryland Air National Guard with 15 years, 4 months, and 3 days of Service to this Nation. I have less than 5 years until my family earns 50% of my pay and health care for life, estimated at $3.3 million over 40 years. Everyone makes decisions for different reasons and everyone I meet asks me, “Why I stopped at 77% of the military golden parachute goal?” 

This answer is simple; my goal is and always has been Service to others, not retirement.

My decision to serve and continue to serve in the military has been based on an internal calculation to affect change of those around me (Delta), my infinite internal drive to make that happen (Inf.), love of my family (Fam), and service to others (Serv).

First, I have always wanted to serve our country but during college I thought I would leave after my initial commitment of four years. I started Active Duty Military in June of 2001, during the post-Gulf War II draw down and only 88 days before September 11, 2001. This changed every American’s calculation and my personal connection is that President Bush’s first public address to the world was from the conference room I managed as a Cyber Officer at Barksdale Air Force Base. Now more than ever, I was committed to my country and my fellow service members.

September 11, 2001: (88 Days x 10 Ser) Inf. > 1 Delta x 1 Fam

Serving just 88 of the 7,305 days toward retirement, my commitment to the War on Terror was at least a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, I was unmarried and ready to Serve anywhere I was needed.

Fast forward a few years supporting the war and a move up to Washington, DC, when my life and calculation on life changed dramatically. I was fortunate enough to work directly for two different General Officers who gave me great latitude in making change for our organization. My largest life event was marrying my wife Lauren which now fundamentally changed my calculus. 

June 16, 2006 (Wedding): (1828 Days x 10 Ser) Inf. > 4 Delta x 5 Fam

Lauren and I are off to see the world, both Serving our Country in different ways, while living in 6 different houses in 10 years both here in the United States and overseas. My ability to influence the lives of Airmen continued to grow as a commander of 250 people and then policy expert at the Pentagon affecting 600k Air Force members. Lauren and I were blessed with our first child, Vienna, and as you could imagine, life changed again.

May 22, 2011 (Vienna’s Birth): (3617 Days x 10 Ser) Inf.  = 7 Delta x 10 Fam

At this point, my family is at least equal to my Active Duty Military Service to our Nation. This tipping point made me reexamine life and my calculus on decisions. To be successful in my endeavors I had to rewrite the equation.

January 18, 2017 (Joined MD ANG): 5697 Days x 10 Ser x 10 Delta x 10 Fam = Inf.

I realize that I do not need to sacrifice family against Service when they can both prosper in the right environment. I swore into the Maryland Air National Guard to continue to Serve my Nation and now my home state of Maryland. I came to the realization that our Government is often inept in its ability to truly make large scale change from the inside, so I joined a start-up company that will push change from corporate America. Finally, in all my years working for the most senior leadership within the Air Force, I realized that they truly do work for our elected leaders. To make the most positive impact on the lives of those around me, elected office is one of the most effective avenues.

I cannot thank my family enough for supporting me through my first 15 years of Service and cannot wait for what the future has in store for us, our fellow Marylanders, and our fellow Americans.