The Comfort Zone

Posted: April 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

I came across an old letter I wrote to myself when I was in Afghanistan. It was scribbled in a journal. Please excuse any grammatical errors.


I am writing to the future. In approximately a year you will have to decide whether to stay Army or to go. Many tempting offers will be placed on the table. Money (bonuses, student loan repayment), residency, assignments of choice. You will have to do math – weigh the value of a retirement package. Weigh the value of a DOMRB (Dental Officer Multi-year Retention Bonus). Ask yourself how much you value the security blanket the Army provides and how secure it actually is.

But the number one question you have to answer is: “Is staying in or getting out better for me or my family?”

The answer is unquestionably “GET OUT.” All the promises they make are lies. All the benefits and security under attack. All your civil liberties and personal freedoms are taken in the military. I can’t even be the man I want to be. No control. Even back in garrison, the Army is not the place I want to spend my life. Bottom line. I only have one life to live. 

So despite the temptation to stay in and the fear of the unknown that rests with the decision to get out, the right thing to do is to leave the military. The opportunity cost lost by staying – both in dollars and days- is too much to bear. 

So take the risk, know that it is the more difficult route, and step outside the comfort zone. I firmly believe that despite the struggles it will no doubt bring, the decision to 100% leave the military ( no National Guard, no Army Reserve) is the right decision. And I will one day ask “Why was I so scared and why did I ever have any doubt?”

Michael Barno 

October 22, 2011

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