8 Reasons Why I Resigned My Commission with 15 Years of Military Service

People ask me all the time why I resigned my commission in the Army with 15+ years of service.  What was I thinking?  Why would I give up my pension?  Why would I walk away from a successful Army National Guard Officer career?

In today’s post, I want to do my best to answer that question honestly and objectively.  Please know that I don’t expect everyone who reads this post to understand my rationale or agree with me.  And that’s perfectly okay. These views are simply why I made the decision that I did.

First off, I did not make my decision to resign my commission a random or overnight decision.  In fact, I spent two years thinking about it.  I weighed the pros and cons.  I analyzed it thoroughly.  I calculated what my pension would be.  I talked with trusted superiors and friends.  I even talked to some retirees.  I did my due diligence.  So, it wasn’t some rash decision I made because someone upset me or because I had a bad day.  It wasn’t an easy decision either.

When I became an Army Officer in 2000, I made a vow from day one that I would never be one of the those folks “just doing time” or “waiting around to get my pension.”  I promised myself that if my heart was no longer in it, I would resign, regardless of how much time I had in.

I’ve always believed that Soldiers deserve to have good, competent leaders who WANTED to serve.  In fact, there are few things that make me angrier than someone staying in just to get a pension, even though their heart isn’t in it. You see these folks in every unit, and everyone knows they are dead weight who contribute very little to the unit (more on that in another post).  Maybe you even know someone like this.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, here are the 8 reasons why I resigned my commission with 15 plus years of military service.

1.  I Knew I Would Be a Staff Officer for a Very Long Time

When I resigned, I was a new Major (about a year time in grade).  I knew that I would be stuck doing PowerPoint slides, OPORDs, MDMP, and meetings the rest of my career.  I knew I would be busy doing the behind the scenes grunt work, making someone else look good.  If you know me at all, you know I don’t enjoy doing that very much. I’m a leader, a doer, not some staff weenie.  I like being where the rubber meets the road, getting things done, and leading Soldiers.  I’m not knocking staff officers.  Heck, we need good staff officers.  I just had no desire to be on staff the rest of my career.

2.  I Knew I Wouldn’t Lead Troops Again

I knew that my leadership days were over.  Sure, I would make Battalion Commander in another five years, if I stuck around, but I didn’t want to wait that long to lead troops again.  I also knew that even as a Battalion Commander I wouldn’t get much Soldier interaction. I would spend most of my time dealing with Brigade, and higher headquarters.  I would spend most of my time in meetings, listening to things that didn’t even interest me (in most cases).  To be quite frank with you, I like being the tip of the spear.  I am happiest when I get to work closely with Soldiers, NCOs and other Officers in a “war-fighting” unit.  The thought of not doing that again was quite depressing.

3.  I Don’t Believe in the Wars We Are Fighting

I know, this one will make some of you angry.  No, I’m not a liberal.  In fact, I’m not affiliated with either political party.  I can’t stand either party.  And yes, I’ve deployed to two combat zones.  I simply don’t like that the U.S. pushes our agenda on every other country in the world, especially when we have so many problems at home.  I didn’t want to get deployed again to fight in a war I do not believe in.  Sometimes, I questioned (and still do) why we are fighting the wars we are fighting.  By the way, I’m not one of those war protesters you see on television either.  In fact, during my time in the military I never told anyone I was against the wars.  This is the first time I’ve expressed my views publicly. I love my country, but am quite frustrated with our government and political agenda.

4.  I Don’t Believe in the Current “Jerry’s Kid’s Mentality” that the Army Promotes

This is a big one.  During my short 15 year stint in the Army, the Army changed a lot.  What really got to me was the “Jerry’s Kids” and “Entitlement Mentality” in the military.  People expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter.  A young Soldier has more rights than their senior leader.  And the Soldier discipline and standards in the Army (at least from my experience) have gone way downhill.  You see Soldiers who don’t salute, don’t say yes sir/no sir when addressing an officer, and don’t show respect to their leaders.  I blame this on senior leaders in units who don’t set high standards and don’t enforce Army standards.  Although I am a young guy from Generation X, I am still old school.  I believe in mental toughness, discipline and high standards.  The Army has definitely gotten away from that.

5.  I Got Tired of the Politics

I’m not a political guy at all.  In fact, I HATE politics.  I call a spade a spade.  I got tired of the officer politics. I got tired of my peers back stabbing each other trying to make themselves look good.  I didn’t want to have to kiss someone’s ass just to make it on an Order of Merit List for a school or command position.  I didn’t want to have to act like I liked someone when I didn’t. I had no desire to be part of the good ole boy system.

6.  I Got Tired of the Unpaid Work Hours

I understand that officers get paid more than enlisted Soldiers because they have lots of work outside of drill weekend.  I also understand that as you move up through the ranks you will have increased responsibilities.  And that’s fine.  But when you work 30 or 40 unpaid hours a month (or more) it can really create problems in your personal life.  My “outside of drill weekend requirements” consumed too much time and really hurt my businesses and home life.  Yes, it is a volunteer Army.  Some people might call my reasoning selfish, but last time I checked no one joined the Army to work for free.

7.  I Was Born to Be an Entrepreneur

I am a free spirited person.  I’ve always enjoyed being the boss and making my own decisions.  I’m a MAVERICK.  I don’t like being told what to do or having to ask permission to do anything. The older I get, the harder it is for me to take orders from people I wouldn’t normally follow.  You know, the people who outrank you simply because they’ve been in the military longer than you.

Furthermore, I knew that whatever rank I attained in the Army, I would still have someone telling me what to do.  Hell, even the Commanding General has someone to answer to!  As an entrepreneur, I am the Chairman of the Board of my company and I do the things the way I want to do them.  No bureaucracy.  No chain of command.  No SOP.  Just me. The only orders I take are from my wife (LOL).   Anyone who is entrepreneurial minded like myself understands what I am talking about.

I should also chime in and tell you that this blog would have been a conflict of interest.  As officer’s we’re not allowed to use our rank for personal gain.  Some people might have thought I was doing that by having this blog.  I realized that the earnings potential of my blog was at least 1000x the potential of my pension.

Major Charles Holmes8.  I Have a Huge Vision for My Life

This might be one of my most important reasons for resigning my commission.  You see, I know EXACTLY what I want to do with my life.  I know who I am and where I am going.  I have big goals and dreams for my businesses and life and knew it would be difficult to reach my goals, even if I just stuck around for my last five years until I could retire.

Final Thoughts

There you have it folks.  These are my eight primary reasons for resigning my commission with 15 years of military service.  I apologize upfront if anything in this post upsets you or makes you angry.  That is not my intent.  Please know that I love the Army and I love my country. Serving in the military made me a better person, a better leader and a better father/son/husband.  I look back at my military service with great pride.

I’d like to close with one piece of advice.  That advice is “only you know what is best for you.”  Ultimately, you have to decide whether or not to continue your military service.  Your senior officers are going to tell you to stay in (unless you are a dirt-bag).  That is their job.  My hope is that you will weigh all of your options and make a deliberate, well thought out decision.  There is nothing wrong with staying in and there is nothing wrong with getting out.  But only you can decide what the best option is for you and your family.

Thanks for reading my post.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Please don’t leave any hateful or rude comments.  Those comments will be deleted.  But if you’ve ever resigned your commission from the military, or are thinking about doing it, I would love to hear your reasoning for doing so.  I would also love to hear reasons that made you decide to stay in and finish your military career.  All the best!

And, comments are now off, so feel free to contact me and I will add it to the post if it makes sense. Thank you.

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51 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why I Resigned My Commission with 15 Years of Military Service”

  1. I think I’ve explained my deal to you in an email to verify its true. I had 17 years in a guard unit, left a corporate job to be able to attend schools to move up Enlisted. Made it up to E7, was offered a commission in the Reserves, was boarded, and then illegally discharged from the Guard unit by an ACTING Warrant Officer Commander. Screwed my records up with bar to re-enlist codes, with ETS as reason for my discharge. There is a civil case and an ABCMR in line. Civilian suits are near impossible for this kind of thing because of the FERES Doctribr , but we have overcome that hurdle, dure to the warrant officer violating U.S. Federal Laws and Army Regs. to eject me from service. United States Supreme Court has the case now, so it’s not a case of me being a whiner, crybaby, or disgruntled soldier. Basically when I knew I had the commission in the Reserves I called the Warrant Officer acting commander out about mis using unit funds that were in place for junior enlisted that didn’t have civilian jobs to
    come in and get stuff done in the unit. Thes funds were called RMAs. Well the Warrant Officer acting commander ( a state civilian technician/miltec in Army Reserves )was
    having these funds put in his direct deposit, -and paying himself $200-400, bi- weekly for let’s say, mailing a letter, or signing NCOERs. Meanwhile you have an E3 or E4 struggling to buy groceries . I called him out, -and he out of spite screwed me up before o could get released and go to the Reserves. Anyway I would have my 20 by
    now commissioned, but one person screened it up. It will hopefully get fixed after all these legal wheels turn, but it s been three years whipped out of my life; renember I quit my civilian job to devote my time to the military, as MAJ Holmes stated, it’s impossible almost to juggle both once you make rank. So at 17 years my MIL career was ripped from me. It will be fixed I pray, but I would have had my 20 if mot for one person. I have never in 17 years had a problem with anyone, and was closer to the military and my squad than my own family. Just a true story to think about

    1. The case made it to The Supreme Court and was not granted Certiorari because of the FERES Doctrine. I beg you as a military aficionado to read up on the Feres Doctrine. Basically if you and I are in the National Guard l, me Mississippi, and you in Maine. If I were to travel to your state and run a red light and plow into your car, sending you to the hospital along with your family ( this is hypothetical, but very real ). Do you know who you valued sue? My insurance.. Then my insurance would petition the local US Atty . For a Barr to suit under the FERES Doctrine., and your insurance would wind up have to take the hit. That is how f’d up the doctrine is from 1956 I believe. Look up military rape, and feres doctrine. I tried to commit suicide after the case was dismissed, but ER staff was able to bring me back. I’m not proud of that, but I had lost all hope at that point. My family spent over 5k in filing fees to get that far..All for nothing.. I still have a very well prepared ABCMR petition that has been filed awaiting a board ruling for over two years. Several Senators, Colonels, and Generals have included memos to be attached to my petition to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records after hearing my situation. As I said in the original post, I would date a girl, get into a relationship, then have to go to military training , or deployment, so my squad members and unit became the people I was closest to throughout my life from -17 years old. As a former CDR can you please watch Courage Under Fire, where Denzel Washington’s wife tells him she is ready for him to get out of the Army, or get divorced. Denzel ( Col. Serling ) tells her that the Army is his life. That is the best explanation that I can give as far as the way I feel. As screwed up as it sounds.

  2. Sir, I too have been contemplating on resigning my commission too. The difference between you and I is you had a plan. Ion the other hand do not have a plan and continue to conduct deliberate assessments of my current status in the Army and what I would like doing upon discharge. Currently pursuing my Masters Degree while serving as the Aide to a CG. Touchy subject but something has to given, right?

    1. Landel. Make sure you get certifications in whatever you main MOS. Certs is the game changer out there. You will not be able to compete (unless you have a TS SCI) with the civilians or the ex military who have these credentials.

  3. No, I didn't resign but retired with 22 years in 1990. I do understand your reasons for resigning and wish that everything works out the way you want. I was not Army but Air Force with very interesting career jobs but my brother-in-law was Army and I respect him and every military brother.

  4. I felt like I was reading into my own thoughts here… I’ve seen this website before, but never really moved past what I was able to find that helped me as a Army Reserve Commander. You’ve given me great insight, and more so, a voice to my own thoughts. Being a BDE HHC CDR is absolutely maddening! The briefs, and pre-brief briefs… followed by the brief backs take valuable training time away from the Soldiers. I’ve got 26 years in; 19 of those as enlisted; and this is my second command stint. My first was as a MP (CS) Line Company Command. It’s a WORLD of difference compared to an HHC command.
    And working for free… yeah. It’s 9PM, and I’m sitting on my couch at home with my gov’t laptop on my lap… 4 hours later…

      1. Thanks Greg! I sent MAJ Holmes an email requesting some information as well. I really appreciate what you guys are doing on here. It’s very helpful!

        CPT D

        1. You are welcome sir. I also contacted Maj Holmes and told him about your email in case he missed it. Let me know if he you are in need of anything else, and also have a Happy New Year.

  5. Hey Mr./Mjr. Homles,

    Cadet 2nd Lieutenant Fancy here 12th grade (senior), and I just wanted to commend you by saying thank you for your 15+ years serving our great country! May God Keep and Bless you is my prayer. But with that being said I have read some info about the duties and responsibilities of a S-1. Therefore I have requested in my jrotc the position of a S-5 known to be affiliated as (Public relations) such as advertisements, websites, photos and etc. I state that its my passion. I was wondering do you have any more info on this position and perhaps any sort of advice that will mold and shape be to be a better leader in all that I due as of now and in the future?

    Thanks
    , Cadet 2nd lieutenant Fancy

    P.s I actually look forward to enlisting into the united states army and I am well aware this question should per say be for my recruiter I assume but may I please ask if there anything you would recommend I should know or be attentive to if I still decide to proceed with my ambitions?

  6. Major Holmes,

    I commend you for having the integrity and personal courage in resigning your commission based on the reasons you have stated above.

    You are the type of soldier and leader that the U.S. Army will greatly miss. I wish you the best of luck in your business endeavor and personal life.

    Congrats on a new chapter in your life.

    SGT Tong
    2005-2011

  7. Major Holmes,

    I commend you for having the integrity and personal courage to voluntarily writing your reasons in resigning your commission after 15+ years of honorable service in the U.S. Army.

    It would have been nice to serve alongside with you when we were both still in.

    -SGT T

  8. Mr Holmes:

    Can you go into detail about the procedure for and ramifications of resigning your commission? Contemplating the option myself and not sure how one goes about doing it.

  9. Wow, you really tell it like it is! Your honesty is refreshing. Nobody joins the military to attend meetings or sit behind a desk. While that sort of administrative work is essential to maintain a fighting force, it certainly isn’t featured on the recruiting ads! As far as the “Jerry’s Kids Mentality” – I hate to say this, but that isn’t restricted to the military. That’s just the way we’re teaching people to behave.

  10. This was a good post, Chuck. I don’t know you very well, obviously, but I am prior service, even though I was enlisted. I understand.

    I understand the points you made, and the fact is that if anybody is really hesitant about more than one enlistment and the possibility of a career, then getting out of the service needs to be looked at seriously.

    It sounds like you had a really solid career as an Army officer. I know good and well that your civilian career will be solid also.

    After I left the Air Force, a ran into a friend of mine who chose to make it a career. I told him I had struggled with deciding to get out or not, but in the end chose to pursue other things.

    He told me to take what I had learned while in the service and apply it to civilian life and move on. A career in the service is not for everybody for a variety of reasons.

    I would add, though, and I think you would agree, that those men and women with prior service appreciate life and our country more than those who don’t serve.

    Yes, we see problems but we also are proud of our service and our country as a whole. I have no patience with those who have no respect for our country and our service men and women.

    Like I say, I don’t know you, but I wish you the best in whatever you pursue as a civilian.

  11. This post truly hits home for me. My husband is about to end his active duty time with the Army and is considering AF Reserves. We’ve talked a lot about him staying in until he can retire and get his pension, however, for so many of the reasons you listed, I’m hesitant about that. He was so unhappy in his current unit because of the politics that go on, and he was only a low level NCO! We have reasonable doubts that military service would truly make him happy enough to stay long enough to earn pension. It’s worth noting though that we have friends who, although they see the same problems and have many of the same struggles, find it worthwhile for them to become “lifers”. We need all types of men and women in the military, but the one thing they all have to have in common to make the military truly great not only in purpose and action but in integrity and lifestyle, is they have to want it. Thank you for you candor. It is so refreshing to hear “out loud” much of what we’ve only been able to say privately and only to one another.

    1. Making the decision to get out, especially after the ten year mark is hard for most people to do. Lots of people become lifers because they have no other options, or fear of losing their pension, even though they don’t enjoy what they do. I’ve always been the type of guy who has to enjoy what they do, but not everyone has the same viewpoint. I wish you and your husband the best during this difficult situation.

  12. Wow, this post was so honest and transparent. I certainly didn’t expect some of the reasons you listed here, but I certainly do understand them. First, I would just really like to commend you for your wisdom in choosing to leave, even before the pension began, because you knew your heart was not in it anymore. You would have been doing a disservice to those around you, especially the people you may have been leading, because you no longer had a desire to be here.

    Secondly, I am more liberal and often times struggle with the wars we fight and why we fight them. I always wondered how soldiers dealt with similar feelings, as they put their life on the line everyday for the people. Thanks for your insight and honesty.

  13. I am old school and Old Army mentality too. I understand every single point you made on resigning your commission and am impressed with your honor and motivation.

    I think one of the most interesting reasons you list was the Jerry’s Kids Mentality of today’s Army. My Dad was a 30-year lifer, and as I understand it, soldiers actually have what we called a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If your Drill Sgt. is being a little too rough on you today, you can use the card and he has to stop. I don’t know if they still do this, but WHAT???? It’s his job to be rough on you, and it’s your job to learn the lessons he is trying to teach you.

    The civilian world and civilian attitudes have moved into the military sphere of operations too much. It’s like not giving grades in school because it might make some kids feel inferior. It’s like giving promotions based on longevity only and not on performance. There IS too much sense of entitlement out there, and it has seeped and oozed its way into military operations to the point that I’m actually amazed our troops have any combat readiness at all.

    That was always one of the things that made me proud to be associated with the Army — it was better than the average Joe. The soldiers were better, braver, smarter, and more disciplined. Now too many of them ARE the average Joe.

  14. I'm at this stage also in my career in the Army Reserves. After reading your reasons, I find they are ringing true for me also. Thanks for putting it in perspective Chuck.

    1. You’re welcome, Robert. It’s never an easy decision, but at some point in all of our careers we will tell the Army good bye, or they will tell us good bye. Leaving at the right time is very important. That time varies with each person.

  15. Very candid and sage advice, thank you. I have decided to resign after transferring to a new NG unit and 14 years of service (8 on AC) that the cons far outweigh the pros, especially as a Warrant Officer and with the NG going back to the 80s and 90s mentality of training.

  16. Thank you for sharing your personal story, and thank you for serving. I do not know why anyone would second guess a decision that you made that was best for you and your family. There were probably plenty of good reasons to stay in, but at the end of the day, if you no longer believe in what you are doing, then you need to change things. Good for you that you had other opportunities available to pursue.

  17. Resigning after so many years is never a decision made lightly. It’s like a relationship that you build and hone. I’m sure there were mixed feelings of excitement for something new and fear of letting go of something you are obviously good at. When you get to a point where you look around and feel sick, angry or resentful for being there then it’s time to go. I admire your decision to leave. When you get to a certain point it has the potential to bring everyone down.

  18. Thanks for this article. I am highly conflicted about staying in the National Guard. I am ADSW working in our state headquarters and I truly have enjoyed the jobs I have held on the full time side. I know that I am doing work that is important for the National Guard and our Soldiers. On the other hand my traditional units have seemed to do everything they can to make me feel unwanted. I’m not an Officer who intentionally puts my full time job first. I put as many hours as I could into being the best company commander I was able to be and try to do the same for my other traditional roles. I want to keep doing my full time job, but for some of the same reasons you give and some of my own, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep attending drill and AT with my traditional unit.

    1. Jennifer,

      I think this is something many ARNG/USAR Officers struggle with. Working on the full-time side of the house and on the M-Day/TPU side of the house creates a complex set of challenges. Doing one or the other is hard enough, doing both is a bit overwhelming. I’m glad you enjoy your ADSW job and sad to hear that you feel unwanted by your traditional unit. That really sucks when that happens. Hopefully, you can work things out and move forward with your career.

      Good luck!

      Chuck

    2. Is there any opportunity for you to change units, to one that is more supportive of your full time work? Only reason I say this is, we get moved around plenty as officers, so don’t let this one unit ruin a good thing for you.

  19. Great points: I've very recently been considering resigning and have found it to be a very difficult decision. I've reached a point with both my civilian and military careers in which I can't sustain top performance in both. I know that there are many out there who probably feel the same.

    1. Dustin,

      It’s never an easy decision. And you could argue both sides of the story. Ultimately, you have to weigh both options and trust your instincts. That’s what I did and things worked out fine. That doesn’t mean I never regret my decision or miss the military. I do from time to time. But at the end of the day, I’m glad I moved on to the next chapter of my life. Thanks for the comment.

      Chuck

  20. Chuck, what a great post. I am glad that you put this out on the table for all us out here. I respect your perspective and openness. I have a few points/questions to add with you…

    #1. I agree with you, being a staff Officer is NOT where I want to be either. Leading Troops is the best job in the world. If I could be a Major and be a Platoon Leader at the same time, I would! Being a staff Officer changes you as a person…I have seen it to my peers and I hate that they get all the glory for work that YOU made possible. Just recently our BTN staff Officers received awards during our OPD. To me, their award descriptions sounded like they were just doing their jobs! Nevermind the Soldiers and line leaders, that like you said, sacrifice their personal time to plan and do the right thing for their Soldiers and actually execute the mission! It just left a bitter taste in my mouth that they were recognized for doing their jobs and others aren’t when they go above and beyond.

    #2. Belief in war… I would tend to agree with you to a point. One question I have, and feel free not to answer if you don’t, but do you align yourself more with the Libertarian platform?

    #3. The politics involved in the Officer Corps really irritates me. As I indicated in #1, I think that the BTN level staff create this political atmosphere and forget that they are there to serve us, not the other way around. It is so irritating to me that FULL TIME AGR BTN members have a full time job preparing the OPORD, LOI, etc. and wait until Thursday, the week before drill to publish their Order, and then want yours in a day or so while you are working your civilian jobs, balancing family life, etc. They should be breaking their backs to ensure that we have the most time to get things done and not be so crunched and frustrated. And they wonder why retention is low and Soldiers get out!

    1. Justin,

      Thanks for the nice comment. Here are my answers to your questions.

      # 1 If I could have been a small unit leader my entire career, I would have gladly done that. Maybe I should have been a NCO. Maybe not. There are staff NCOs too, so I’m not sure if that is the right answer either. I am more of a doer than a thinker. Yes, I like to conceptualize and am good with big picture thinking, but I am happiest when I can roll up my sleeves and get to work.

      # 2 Yes, I am a Libertarian. I’m big on individual rights and letting other countries handle their own issues, especially when our country has so many issues itself: crooked politicians, high unemployment, illegal immigrants, excessive laws, excessive government spending, etc.

      # 3 As far as the politics in the officer ranks, it irritated me greatly. In many units, the AGR acts like the M-Day Soldiers are suppose to serve them. I never understood that. If anything the AGR should do what it takes to make the M-Day Soldier’s life easier. And the “officer politics” in general gets much worse as you move up through the ranks and are trying to get promoted.

      Thanks again for the comment. I hope my answers helped. Have a great day.

      Chuck

      1. Chuck, YES on #3. I see this far too often. The full time staff seems to forget that they are there for the M Day Soldier!

        I respect this post more than you know. It takes a lot of courage to say things publicly that may not be popular opinion, but if there is one thing I have learned from knowing you for the past year, is that you have a lot of integrity and you care about the people who work for you – and I can see how that would have made you a great officer. I wish we didn’t have to lose someone like you from the ranks, but if your heart wasn’t in it…I respect you that much more for having the courage to leave.

        1. Hey there Candace!

          Chuck, keep doing what you do! Getting ready to purchase some products for myself, and my soon to be unit leaders.

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