A year until military retirement: a reserved officer's transition from the military to civilian life
For most of his life, Larry Hale always knew in the back of his head that he wanted to join the military. Some of his distant cousins and his dad’s uncles had served in the military, and growing up, he had always been interested in military history. So after attending college for a semester and figuring out it wasn’t for him yet, he decided to give the military a try.
Hale joined the Army in March 1990 and was terrified to leave, but he was motivated to make it work and was able to make friends and get accustomed to the new face-paced lifestyle pretty quickly.
In his first three years with the Army, Hale was stationed in Germany. Experiencing a different country and culture was eye-opening for him and loved the ability to travel and see new parts of the world.
“As a 20-year old kid when I left here, all I was really worried about was rock and roll, trucks and things like that,” Hale said. “When I got to Germany and began to look around, things like architecture started to get my attention. It kind of changed my outlook. It helped me grow up a little bit.”
Hale spent 10 years in the Army on active duty. After being in Germany, Hale came back to the United States, married his wife Christy and moved to North Carolina. He then moved to Texas for a bit before finishing his Army service in the Oklahoma City Recruiting Battalion in 2000. After completing active duty, Hale attended college and went into the Army Reserve.
Hale struggled adjusting from active duty to reserve duty. The morale, motivation and even the training was different than what he was used to in active duty. Hale left the Army Reserve three years later in 2003, and in 2009 after talking to a recruiter, Hale decided to join the Air Force Reserve.
“I figured I didn’t have much going on retirement wise,” Hale said. “I want to say I was halfway to a military retirement, so I said, ‘I’ll go do eight or nine more years, and then I’ll retire.’ Now I’ve been in the Air Force Reserve for about 11 or 12 years now, and I have about a year left then I’ll retire [from the military] for good.”
For Hale, one of the biggest challenges he faced as he transitioned back in civilian life was the slow down pace. After spending 10 years in active duty, Hale said it was hard to come out of that environment and slow down.
“I’d spend the four years jumping out of airplanes,” Hale said. “Military life is different from civilian life. We moved every couple of years, and it’s just exciting. Regular civilian life you buy a house and settle down. It’s not quite fast.”
Besides the military, another passion of Hale’s is teaching. Hale was inspired by his high school history teacher to follow that path.
“I just liked the way he carried himself, presented himself and the way he approached the class,” Hale said. “He was influencing me without me even realizing.”
After receiving his degree in political science in 2004, Hale got certified through the Troops to Teachers program and has been teaching since 2011. Teaching during a pandemic has been hard especially with some of the technical difficulties that arise in a virtual setting, but Hale believes the fast-paced nature of the military helped prepare him mentally for the challenge.
“Change is constant in the military, whether it’s weapons or policy,” Hale said. “So you’re always adapting to change. I can sit here and gripe about everything going on in the classroom this year and the challenges, or I can just do it and get on with the rest of the day. “
After he retires from the Air Force reserve, Hale plans to continue teaching until he can officially retire from work.