I know you have all been anxiously waiting. I was going to push this off until tomorrow, but I might as well put it down tonight while I have nothing else to do…
As many of you know, I am in the Army Reserve. Have been for about 8 1/2 years now. For those of you who don’t know, I seriously considered joining the Army right out of high school. I had some sexy view of driving tanks and shooting lasers in Germany with said tanks and living the high life. For some reason, I decided not to join then, but still had the desire to do so. I went to college, thought about ROTC for a bit, but then I decided to enlist in the Army Reserve. Planned on doing something super cool, but instead picked “Legal Specialist” as my MOS and that was that. The reasons why I went back to the Army are a bit fuzzy in my mind now, so long after the fact, but I am sure one of the reasons was for love of my country and all that. It definitely wasn’t for the money, nor was it to “see the world,” seeing how other then a trip to South Korea, my Army “world” has mainly been Devens, MA and Fort Dix, NJ.
But my service in the Army has always meant something, which I think I prove every day by deciding to work for the Army as well. I tell everyone that I like being in the Army and working in support of the Army, even though some days it can be really frustrating. And this is where this little post takes a direction that many of you might have seen coming, or may not really understand if you are outside of the military and don’t really know anyone who serves personally. I had a crisis about six weeks ago, and this crisis almost made me angry enough to leave the Army that I love behind and move onto other things in my life. But this story starts even before then.
I think it was in January. Honestly, the time line has gotten a little blurry over the past few months so bear with me. This might turn into bit of a ramble. Anyway, my unit was identified and sourced for mobilization in late 2009. To be honest, this was probably some of the best news I had gotten in a while. We had these types of things happen before, but being that I picked a not-as-needed MOS in 2000 I never really came close to deploying in my entire military career. Whatever happened, I was going to go on this deployment. It may sound odd to those out there that don’t serve, but this was one of the reasons I joined: “to defend the United States from enemies, both foreign and domestic.” I figured it was going to be my last hurrah, since I had every intention of using the deployment to get out of debt and lose weight, and return, ready to go of to OCS and become an officer on Active Duty. But I have known many of the people in my unit for my entire life here in Connecticut, and they were as close to me as anybody could be. They were my “Battle Buddies” after all. I vowed to lose as much weight as I could prior to deployment and to go to any school required of me in order to go, for myself and for ny friends.
I have to pause here and mention something that I’m sure a lot of you are thinking: why would anybody want to go to war? I’ll just answer that in saying that the Reserves, especially on this deployment, are not in the forefront of any battle with the enemy. Sure, it’s dangerous going to a country where some of the citizens will shoot at you, but you can say that about some countries not called Iraq or Afghanistan, or even some cities in America. I can honestly say that I have no fear were I to go on this deployment.
And that’s where the crisis comes in. Not ten days after we were informed of this possible deployment, we were told by the Big Boss that the Bigger Boss did not want to allow any of his full-timers to deploy. Why? So there are people “in the rear” that are around to manage those individuals left behind, which at the time of our deployment would be about 140, maybe 200 tops. Let’s just say that this upset me greatly, I said somethings that I probably shouldn’t have said to the Big Boss, pretty much promising that if I was not allowed to go on the deployment, I would be leaving in August when my time was up. Where I would go, I don’t know, seeing as how leaving the Army also means finding a new “civilian” job for me as well.
I lost all motivation in everything Army. I stopped running, I topped 300 pounds for the first time in my life, and I was generally a miserable person. It was as if the Big Boss was talking out of both sides of his mouth: out of one side, he was telling us that we were the greatest full-time staff in the entire Army Reserve. But out of the other side, the more hurtful side, he was telling us that we would have to stay behind and waive goodbye as the Soldiers that we train with every month left without us, and we had to remain behind to “Grow the Force.” It stung a lot.
I was re-encouraged later that month, after attending a conference to plan for another unit’s mobilization. In talking with people there, Even Bigger Bosses said that the justification for keeping fully-deployable folks off the list to go didn’t seem to be justified, and that Bigger Boss would have to explain to Even Bigger Boss why he was forcing them to transfer in a whole bunch of new folks when there were capable and deployable people already assigned to the unit. But we had to keep this little bit of information quiet, because Big Boss and Bigger Boss were set in their ways and didn’t really want to listen to some of the smart people that work for them.
Luckily for me, and others in our unit, we have a high-quality Command Sergeant Major (CSM), kind of like the Vice Big Boss. He found out from the full-timers how many of us actually wanted to go, and pleaded his case with Bigger Boss and Vice Bigger Boss to let some of us go. Lucky for me he says he won’t deploy without me going with me, so there is one more feather in my cap towards the whole deployment thing. Hooray!
So now we get back to the root of this little blog here. Long story short, there is now a distinct possibility that I will be deploying sometime later this year. I can’t say exactly when, but if everything happens the way it is supposed to, by this time next year, I could be very well writing you e-mails from different climes, where “terrorists” roam. I have school dates to get another MOS and potential school dates to learn how to become a contracting FOO.* And even better is that I may be doing this deployment with many of my current “battle buddies” from the unit. If anything, this deployment will reaffirm many of the reasons why I joined the Army, and really be a good starting point for the second half of my Army career.
Sure, I’ll miss my friends and my family. But much like Basic Training couple with 9/11 changed me for the first time nearly eight years ago, this might have the same impact on me. If you see me in the coming months, I’m hoping that I look different. I have renewed emphasis in my life, and I am slowly working myself back to a point where I can really start kicking my own ass and losing some weight and get stronger. Stef’s wedding in around five months will be the debut of the semi-new me, and sometime around my 30th birthday will be the next reveal. All that I ask for from you, my friends, is love and support, not only for me, but for everybody else that may be going into harm’s way today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.
Until the next post…
P.S. Sorry this one is so long. Got a little carried away.
P.P.S. *FOO – Field Ordering Officer – as CSM said: “Field Ordering Officer is not abbreviated FOOL, though you have to be a fool to want to be a FOO!” Army jokes – gotta love ’em!