I feel used. I feel like a sellout. I sold my entire life for 18 years of Base Pay and three squares a day.
Well, it may not be much consolation, JonW33, but your service is of a lot more value than base pay and three squares.
Your service allowed a whole bunch of folks to continue living in a style they felt was proper for them, whether good or bad. Don't sell yourself short.
The "military machine" may from time to time spit upon us who have served, but the republic is still much better because of your/our service. That may not seem like much, but it is. It's everything.
Now, this business you wrote up there about wanting something to end ... well, I wouldn't mind a bit more of your feelings served up. Whether it's here on the forum, or in an email message to me, or a PM. Something about that choice of vocabulary worries me. In fact, it may very well be that it worries some of our other members, too.
Remember: "Life is short. Don't make it shorter."