Fight for what you want

I only recently discovered your podcast but have been listening on YouTube at work all day every day trying to get caught up. My never quit story is probably one that most people would never consider much of a story at all, but I thought I would share none the less.
I had always wanted to be a cop for as long as I could remember, however I was never in really good shape and during the late 90’s a lot of police departments had height requirements of at least 6’ tall, I am only 5’6”. So, in the beginning I gave up the hope of ever being able to pursue this dream. In early 2000 I was again looking at becoming a cop and came across a police recruiter who told me that if I had some military experience most other eligibility requirements could be waved. Needless to say, I found hope in the thought that there might be a chance I could fulfill this dream.
I spoke to every military recruiter in town and made the decision to join the United States Air Force, Security Forces. They were a mix of law enforcement and security troops and this appeared to be my best option to get where I ultimately wanted to be. There was a catch however, I was a high school drop out with a GED and as a child had been diagnosed with a medical condition that prevented my entry. I wanted this more than anything I had ever wanted so first things first I had to get my high school diploma. Done, with diploma in hand I went back to the recruiter, now the not so easy part, off to see doctors to get this so-called medical condition tag removed. After about 4-5 doctors’ visits, my doctors determined that I was healthy and that there should be no reason I couldn’t join the military. Once again back to the recruiter with all doctor’s assessments in hand. Step one had been accomplished and that was a great relief.
With the first challenge behind me, I finally shipped off to basic training in January of 2001. I was 25 years old, married, and definitely out of shape, the drill instructors quickly assured me they would take care of that. From day one I struggled with running and when it came time for the final PT evaluation I failed the run and was washed back two weeks. I was mentally destroyed and to make things worse I was told if I didn’t pass in my new class I would be discharged. I called home, crying like a baby because I knew that I was not going to make it. I told my wife to make plans that I would be coming home, I thought I was finished. Luckily, in my new basic training class I got an instructor who wanted to see me make it and he ran with and pushed me to my limits and on the day of the final evaluation……. I passed! With basic training now behind me, I had the confidence to go to tech school to be a member of Security Forces. I got better at running, even though there was no part of me that enjoyed it, I passed all of my PT evals. Orders received, Minot AFB, North Dakota!
Fast forward 4 ½ years, I was making a name for myself in the squadron as the guy who would get the job done at any cost. I had passed my E-5 exam on the first go-round and was just waiting until my line number came up so that I could sew on my new SSgt stripes, I was on cloud-9 and couldn’t be happier. And then, it started to fall apart! The Air Force had adopted new PT standards for active duty. You see, when I joined your annual PFT was to ride a stationary bike and keep your heart rate under a certain number, but with 9/11 and constant deployments PFT’s had to change to keep mission readiness. PFT’s now consisted of a 2-mile run, push-ups, and sit-ups. My first thought, I am screwed! I haven’t run since leaving tech school, no need since it wasn’t a requirement. Then I was informed that I would not be promoted until I could pass my PFT, FUCK! I went back to work on my running and surprise, surprise, I sucked at it once again. I kept working at it but when they day came for my PFT, I failed, and my stripes were held back! I had one more chance and there was no way in hell that these bastards where going to keep me from what I had worked for. Second try I passed my PFT, barely, but passed none the less. I got my stripes! I relaxed, but that turned out to be a mistake. I failed my next two PFT’s and was informed 6-months from the end of my 6-year enlistment that I was going to be kicked out on a general discharge for failing to meet PT standards. HELL NO, I wasn’t about to go quietly, and if you haven’t figured out by now, I am not giving up quite that easy. I went to see a JAG lawyer and through a series of technicalities was allowed to stay in until my enlistment was up. I received an honorable discharge and left the Air Force.
Although I left the Air Force with a lot of regrets I learned a lot about myself in the process. No matter what, at the end of the day I am a fighter and I will fight for what I want at all cost, regardless of the consequences. If you knock me down, I will get back up and come at you harder than ever. If you stand in my way, I will move you.
I will never stop regretting those decisions I made in the past, but now, at 42 years old, those decisions no longer define who I am. What does define me is my passion to never give up on what I believe in and what I want, and you can bet your ass that I live by the never give up motto every day. I still rarely take the easy road, mostly because that road is no fun. For whatever reason I get some pleasure out of taking the road less traveled and seeing the end results. I take pride in my accomplishments and my failures just make me that much more determined. This is not the end of my “Never Quit Story”, as far as I am concerned, it’s just getting started.

Author: Matt