Mentorship Corner: You’ll be successful with a goal in mind, and my goal is health insurance

By Staff Sgt. Michaela Smith, US Army Reserve

You’ll get a lot of advice in your career. There are so many options, paths, and wickets to hit if you’re going to make it to the senior ranks. There’s one piece of advice I’ll share with you: You need to know what your goals are in your career and stick with them. And for me, that goal is health insurance.

People ask me why I’d stay in the Reserves after my 20 years. “You’ve given enough” they say. It’s true, I may never reach another promotion or have another assignment that I’m excited about. I can say what I am excited about is low-cost health insurance. So long as I serve with honor two days a month, I get 30 days a month of health insurance for the low price of $35 a month. Just a little more than a dollar a day! That’s cheaper than the McDonald’s dollar menu, since I always get more than one thing each day. It’s unbeatable, and motivates me to put the uniform on occasionally.

No amount of pay or promotion is going to get you through the really hard times in the military. For me, deployments away from home, toxic leadership or challenging assignments couldn’t ruffle me. I knew myself and knew what I was there for. Things might be tough, but at the end of the day I have the unflappable confidence that they can’t take away my health insurance.

I’m here to lead troops, and even if you take my troops away, I still get an annual dental exam and a low co-pay on new glasses.

Why would someone sign up to put their life on the line? They say that the soldier fights for the man to the left and right of them. I fight for the man to the left and right of me to be younger and healthier than I am, paying in premiums but not requiring anything other than unlimited 800 mg ibuprofen caplets.

I see these young soldiers running around, and they don’t know what it’s like out there paying market rate for health insurance. I tried the Obamacare exchanges, and not only were they 12 times more expensive, they didn’t give me tax-free liquor. I know a good deal when I see it. You may have not seen the years before reservists qualified for TRICARE, but I did. Let’s just say that the tooth fairy didn’t have pockets deep enough to cover all the the teeth pulled on the drilling room floor before mobilizations.

We live in a golden time, soldiers, and it can’t last forever. Know your goals, and stick to them. Go ahead and schedule that dermatology appointment with a $10 co-pay. It’s your career, after all. Get a spare pair of reading glasses. After all, these wartime benefits can’t last forever. I’ll be gone soon, and so will your TRICARE. Do your best on your watch.