Wearing our scarlet letters

When I was 18, I joined the military. The first stop for an enlisted member is, of course, Boot Camp!! At boot camp, for the first time, I saw some impressive men and women who had a unique job of breaking down 100 18-30 year olds and building them into a unique group of young men and women. It is, of course, deeper than that. The drill instructors are there to teach many things, like how to survive, to move forward without stopping, and they pick lives up where mom and dad left off. They have a unique and rewarding job that takes long hours, intensive training, and unbelievable devotion.
One drill instructor stood out from the rest. He was actually a junior drill instructor, possibly the most junior. While most of them showed off a chest full of ribbons, this guy did not….he only had 4!! It wasn’t his rank and it wasn’t his chest of accomplishments that were impressive, it was his uniform that stood out from the rest!! This guy’s shirt and trousers’ creases were ironed to the point they would cut your eyes if you looked at them for too long (he would make you regret looking at them, too….WHOLE different story!!) His shoes-they were literally shined to the point that when you were pushing the ground and he walked by, you could see your own sweat in them!!! (And god help you if you dripped on his shoes!!) This man was SQUARED AWAY!!

It goes beyond the uniform, though. This junior drill instructor was one of the toughest in the training camp. He caught everything. We could not get away with ANYTHING. We spent more time in front-leaning rest for him than any other…but it goes beyond that, too. While he would go around striking fear and discontentment, he also had a deeply human, deeply caring personality. As a part of our training, we have all of our wisdom teeth pulled. Mine were exceptionally stubborn, requiring 2 days in the recovery ward….which is bad, considering I would miss 2 days of important classes. Guess who stopped in those 2 days to tutor me through the classes!! He was NOT the person I wanted by my side when I was miserable….or so I thought!!

As my 2 days progressed into 3, This tough guy spent several hours at my side and at the side of other sick and sore recruits, bringing us ice water, classroom assignments, talking to us, not making friends, but making small talk and simply showing compassion.

As my 8 weeks drew to a close, I saw less of him, but he was at my graduation, he met my parents and the proud parents of the other 30 or so who made it through the training program. Finally, as I climbed into the car with my family to return home before heading to my first duty billet, I parted company with the Training Center and all of the greatest teachers I have ever known.

So WHY, exactly, do I share a boot camp memory with everyone?? Well, I layed awake last night thinking about the unique position we all live in. We all wear a common scarlet letter, something that, like a military uniform, unites us into a unique group. In the eyes of the community we live in, we are all in a category that is separate from the rest of society. We all appear the same to the others around us. To most people, RSOs and our families are simply set aside from the rest of society, wearing a common scarlet letter, the outcast.

While we are lumped into a category, we lose our individuality. Like the drill instructors at Boot Camp, we are all looked at as “them”. We are to be avoided, we all might bite!! We have a reputation for invoking misery and discontent among the people we live around.

We DO have the opportunity to shine, however. Like the D.I. that I spoke of, we each have an unique opportunity to stand out among the rest. It goes deeper than simply living. I know, some of us have different levels of restrictions, I am blessed in that I have almost none. We can, however, dedicate ourselves to our families, our communities, and our churches. We need to socialize, to mix in and to volunteer where we can and where appropriate. At work, work hard, be the first to accept the undesirable projects. (I just accepted one as I am writing this…work called, I said yes). OWN that project…you know what I mean???

Life takes more than participation. It takes commitment. We, more than any other group of people, need to give more to society than any others. We have an unique set of obligations, we have to check in here, stay away from there, and avoid this, and always be sure another person is around to account for us when we do that. We also have a unique opportunity to shine through it all.

You see, the drill instructor that stood out from the others was really no different than the others, but he found a way unique to himself to stand out from the woodwork. I invite everyone to join me in my personal challenge to step out from the rest. Imagine, an entire population of RSOs who put their 110% into living above and beyond the letters we wear. Of course, it isn’t easy….nothing that brings about good ever is. It is early here this morning. This means we have a whole day to get started.

It isn’t the scarlet letter we wear….it’s how we wear it that counts.

9 comments for “Wearing our scarlet letters

  1. Will Allen
    January 24, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I like the positive attitude of the article but I disagree with the gist of it. I do not think people who are listed on a Nanny Big Government (NBG) Registry should worry about dedicating themselves to “our communities”. I also think “need to give more to society than any others” is completely wrong. F communities and society. Most people in them are awful, undeserving humans.

    I have been listed on an NBG Registry for over 20 years. It is unacceptable and people who support it, the Registry Terrorists, are my mortal enemies. My main goal regarding the Registries is to ensure, literally every single day, that I never do anything that could even conceivably aid any Registry Terrorist. Of course that prevents giving to charities or volunteering for anything.

    But I agree that people who are listed should be much better humans than the Terrorists. That is trivial to do. But a listed person should limit any aid, kindness, or respect that they give to only good, decent people who deserve it. Love people who deserve it. F the Terrorists.

  2. Don
    January 24, 2018 at 7:33 am

    Very good article. Thanks for sharing

  3. January 24, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    I like this. Everyone is unique, everyone has potential and it is best when we do not judge others. I understand the gist of this is to “shine”. Be the best you can. You are not in charge of others nor do they have to live up to your expectations. This is what I was taught in SO treatment. The real rub is that so few in our country have also been through treatment of any kind. So, I do the best I can when I can. Simple.

  4. No Thankyou
    January 25, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I was wrongfully convicted of a sex crime. I feel the same as Will Allen above I hate this society that has done this to me and would like to punish them as they have done me. Despite this and despite the destruction I have went through for 7 years now I have managed to shine anyway. I worked my way up the ladder to become the CEO of a small company. Obviously I will leave the name out because I know that this society would love to try to take it from me. Every e-mail I send every personal meeting I am afraid someone will look me up online and I will go down in flames not because of my deeds or failures but because the government that is supposed to protect me is aloud to assume something about me and share it with the world. We are blacklisted from love, Life, and liberty. I refuse to go down without a fight because this is my life and all I have. This is why I shine but I will not go out of my way to help the masses oh hell no. 12 idiots from my community thought it was best to ignore the facts and play it safe and destroy me or maybe they just wanted to go home and watch their favorite TV show. Do you think for one minute a person in this society would not be selfish enough to destroy someone just to see a TV show. How about endanger someone else’s life to send a TXT message. I won an appeal but the court above decided I waived my right to the argument that made me innocent are you kidding me? The courts are a joke just look at it like this if a female want a male to be punished the court will do that for you.

  5. mike r
    January 26, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Here’s my part at doing something..Follow my case…


    comments welcome….

  6. Michael
    January 27, 2018 at 2:24 am

    What a great article. Thank you so much for the positive approach that we as registered citizens can take and give to our community. The belief that has kept me alive and out of an eternal prison has been, “I can become bitter or I can become better”. I choose today to become a better person and not let bitterness rule.

    I feel sorry for those who feel the need to hold that bitterness inside. As one great man inside those thick walls was once overheard saying, “you won’t win in this life, if you maintain a bitter attitude”.

    This article has encouraged me to, for one more day, become a better person. I only have to do this for one day at a time, this day only.

  7. J Ferguson
    January 27, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I started out with a positive attitude just like the article suggests we all take. I volunteered where I could and each time I was forced to quit, I helped people any chance I could and as soon as people found my name on the list I would be pushed away.
    I completely agree with Will. I want nothing to do with the community or Americans in general. If I had the chance I would move out of this country and not give it a second thought. Before our right to international travel was pretty much destroyed I lived abroad and had plans to life abroad permanently.
    Now I stay to myself mostly and have absolutely no desire to be part of the community that has turned their back on me. I am still looking for ways to move out of the US and I hope one day I can. I would be happy to contribute to a community in another country.

  8. Jon
    January 27, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    Thanks everyone for the feedback, both positive and negative. I realize that I don’t speak for everyone and I understand how people could feel both ways. I went through a bitter stage, it was where I had to be at the time. After joining SOSEN and learning from others, I have learned that I can be positive again. Yes, I struggle, every day and I have fits of bitterness, but it comes less and less as the daus go on. Keep up the fight.

  9. S.
    January 28, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you

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