Well Army, it’s your birthday again. 242 years strong. 242 years of uniforms ranging from rags to Kevlar. 242 years of maintaining vehicles from horses to tanks. 242 years of serving in squalor from Trenton to Fort Polk. 242 years of soldiers raising their right hand and swearing an oath to protect and serve our constitution.

So, at 242 years old, here is a tribute to the Army and all the things I learned from it:

1. How to change in a sleeping bag.

2. How to “wash” my hair without water.

3. How to change a truck tire with a pick ax.

4. How to be ready for just about anything.

5. How to pack.

6. How to don a protective mask in nine seconds.

7. How to make fun of the United States Air Force.

8. How to overcome fear.

9. How to blow stuff up.

10. How to make the best of any situation.

But the most important thing I learned as a soldier is: how to work with just about anyone and get the job done no matter the circumstances or obstacles. Happy Birthday United States Army. Thanks for everything you’ve given me.

-US Army Officer and National Able Network Chief Operating Officer, Bridget Altenburg