I’ve only had my baggage not arrive with me twice in the last five years. The second incident just happened on our recent return from Panama.
This time, just like the last, it served as a physical reminder that I had some emotional baggage to let go.
This transition from military to civilian has not gone as smooth as I thought, which surprises me quite a bit. I do not wish I was back in the Army, but am struggling a little trying to figure out who I am now without wearing the uniform everyday.
Lots of self reflection and discovery. As I am not by nature a patient person, I’m irritated with myself for not getting over it already.
So two things to discuss about the luggage. First, I did not have travel insurance. Oh, the horror of a travel professional traveling to a foreign country and not having insurance! Yes, that was bad, very bad; mainly because of the medical insurance aspect.
Though we do have military health insurance which is world wide, there isn’t a base in Panama anymore which means we would’ve had to pay up front for everything had we needed to go to a hospital.
Depending on the country and the services; payments could be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.
I forgot to buy the insurance after buying the plane tickets. The thing about travel insurance is that it must be bought within the 14 or 21 day window (depending on the company) after first booking the trip. This is when it will be least expensive and you are covered for any pre-existing conditions.
Since I didn’t do that and called months later, it was quite expensive. We obviously accepted the risk. I was grateful that the luggage situation happened on the way home and not while flying there.
Travel insurance also covers delayed/lost baggage. Regardless, when traveling overseas, get the insurance, and get it early. Luck favors the prepared.
The second thing about the luggage; I was carrying around some emotional dead weight. You see, military retirees do not get the same level of immediate respect and attention that active duty personnel receive.
I’ve always understood this; active duty personnel deploy to dangerous places and it’s a volunteer Army. I’d heard retirees tell me they felt like second class citizens in the military world; one step above contractors, though not making nearly as much money.
However, one can never really prepare for how that actually feels until one undergoes the experience. Upon showing my retiree ID card for check in at the Fort Lauderdale airport, I get a cursory glance and nothing else. My husband gets “thank you for your service.”
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. What am I invisible? Or does she just not know what a retiree ID card looks like?
And then I assume (who knows what really happened) that the lady forgets to (or deliberately doesn’t - if I’m going down that negative thought road) put my bag on the conveyor belt and “poof” luggage now lost in the abyss of the airport underbelly.
I hope you can see the connection I’m trying to make. My lack of acceptance of “what is” and sense of continued entitlement is not serving me in the least.
Why didn’t I just show my driver’s license? Or military spouse ID card (another adjustment story)? I require a shift in my attitude - my insurance against this emotional baggage. I get this.
Changing and steering my thoughts to accept where I am in the now is the first step towards moving forward and through this transition.
Really didn’t think I’d be struggling with this though - so interesting and curious. Signing off for now, but don’t forget the travel insurance - both kinds!