We have orders.
For my civilian friends: This is a momentous occasion. “Orders” are the paperwork that are issued for any military move – be it a transfer to another duty station, deployment to a war zone or leaving the service. They are the golden ticket that lets us set our pack-out dates with the moving company and buy plane tickets, among other details.
Everyone in the military is used to the anticipation for orders. Once we know we are moving, we anxiously await the orders to confirm where and when we are going. We rejoice when they arrive. We email family and friends and announce it on Facebook. We celebrate that our next step is finally certain, often after months of waiting for confirmation.
Orders make it real.
And this, my friends, is very, very real.
This set of orders means retirement is happening, and happening soon. There’s no turning back now.
Orders are usually three or four pages and include the names of the spouse and children, plus all kinds of military gobbledygook, dictating where the money comes from for your move, whether you are authorized to ship a car, the date you must report to your next duty station, etc., etc.
Most of it is meaningless to anyone other than those who process the paperwork.
This set of orders, though, gets right to the point with these words at the bottom of the first page:
“The people of the United States express their thanks and gratitude for your faithful service. Your contributions to the defense of the United Sates of America are greatly appreciated. You are released from active duty and, on the date following (01 December 2016), placed on the retired list.”