I’ve been really bad about writing as frequently as I set out to at the beginning of the year. Part of this can be attributed to interference from school as I come down the home stretch in my MSF program, as well as my general frustration with looking for a job for the past few months. As the title to this post implies, however, this should be a series of posts, probably pretty infrequent initially, about some direction that I think I am going to take in my life, if only for the next 12-18 months or so. You’ve been forewarned that it is a long post. On with the show…
The general malaise in my life recently has not been all school/job search related. For the most part, I am able to do both those things almost on autopilot now, which can be both a good and bad thing. As I reach the middle of what should be the last semester I ever spend in school, I’m beginning to think about what is coming next for me. Sure, I’ll be working somewhere, hopefully sooner rather than later, and I’ll be moving back to Utah, again, hopefully sooner rather than later, and that’ll be fine.
My personal life seems to be at it’s highest point in the last six years or so, with a supportive girlfriend that loves me almost as much as I love her and plans for a long life together somewhere. With her support, I feel like I can, and will, eventually accomplish all of my goals, no matter how small, which is one of the many reasons why I love her.
But a feeling cropped up in the back of my mind recently, and it recently became something I could no longer ignore. I don’t know what prompted it or returned it from the deep recesses of my mind, but it came out nonetheless. Maybe it was the back and forth I was having with my friend Albert about the current discussion about reducing the size of the Army. Maybe it was the news that a former mentor and large influence in my life for over a decade finally received an overdue promotion (Congrats again, SFC(P) Paul Mozzicato!). Or it could be the book I am currently reading (Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War) that covers a Defense Secretary that did a lot of things that I forgot about while serving “under” him during his tenure. Whatever it was, the Army became something that was on my mind.
When I left the Army, it wasn’t because I really wanted to. Yes, I admitted then and now that serving in my dual capacity as a kick-ass, know-everything civilian and an under-utilized military paralegal that should have been more than just a specialist was just too much to deal with in the end. Combine that with the things that happened in my personal life and it was a not going to end well for me. Everything else equal, I would have stayed in had I been eligible, would probably still be working in the same job, and would still be pretty miserable.
Luckily, or not, depending on how you look at it, the Army was done with me on February 6, 2011, happy to give me an Honorable Discharge for my troubles as I walked out the door. My actual enlistment had ended August 6, 2008, but through the magic of an Army-at-War and being a guy on the inside, I was able to stick around for a little while longer. It was mostly fortuitous timing, but there was also part of me that wanted to get to the point of being able to actually stick around. I had people on my side, trying to get me to do what I needed to, but through many failures of my own, it was not to be.
I have mentioned previously on here, though I can’t seem to find it right now, that I managed to stay in the Army Reserve for a little over eight years after I passed my last APFT. I don’t say this proudly, and it is one of my biggest regrets from my military career. Again, things just fell into place and I was able to stick around about six years longer than I should have. Along the way, there were numerous stops and starts of getting back into shape, some of which have been chronicled here (though not that many), and I came the closest to passing an APFT with two months remaining on my deployment to Iraq. Upon my return home, I had one foot out the door due to the frustrations with everything and just gave up, counting down the days until I was out of the Army and civilian job.
Immediately after I left, I did not miss the Army. Sure, I missed the people I served with and everything, but I was able to see them when I could while I was still living in Connecticut. Before now, I have never really considered going back except for the rare occasion that I would be reminiscing with my friends about what it was like in Iraq. Or Korea. Or any other of the not so exciting places we went. Now that I am three years removed from it, however, I am feeling that same pull I felt nearly 15 years ago when I first considered the Army, not to mention how I felt when I actually got around to joining two years later.
So this is where the “unfinished business” part comes in. During my time in the Reserves, I always felt like I was destined to do more, but life (i.e. me being fat and out of shape) always seemed to get in the way. I was going to do ROTC once I settled at UConn, but I wouldn’t have been able to pass the APFT. I thought about going to OCS and earning my commission that way, maybe even trying to become an Armor officer on Active Duty and fulfill that teenage boys dream of riding in a tank or two, but I wouldn’t have been able to pass the APFT. Numerous senior leaders told me I should work towards a Direct Commission, especially one officer at the unit that took that route himself and has had a great career, but again, my APFT failures would have prevented me from doing so. I always felt that being an officer was what I was supposed to do in the Army, and I was always mad that I never truly tried hard enough to get to the point where I could do it.
The previous 1,100 words have all led up to this point: I left the Army after 10 1/2 “good” years towards retirement, which means that I am slightly over half of the way to qualifying for a Reserve retirement. At this point in my life, while I am still generally “young,” maybe it’s time for me to try and get back in the Army and try to achieve what I always thought I could. At this point, something like the learning experience of OCS appears to be out of the question, as they want to commission officers by the time they are 34, plus folks with over nine years are ineligible. ROTC is out, frankly because I am done with school and I think I am too old for that as well.
According to my initial research on the matter, I may be able to seek a Direct Commission, though who knows if I will be able to by the time I am ready, hopefully by this time next year. My entire Reserve career took place in a time when the Reserves were painfully short junior officers, especially in the lieutenant ranks, and I’m sure this is something that persists, though things could have changed in my three years away.
Either way, over the next year or so, maybe longer, I will be working towards getting myself back in shape so I can attempt to become an Army Reserve officer. Hopefully, there will be many milestones along the way which I can document here, but ultimately the first goal is to lose some weight and get closer to the Army standards so I can at least talk to a recruiter and get started on the process. After that, deciding what branch I want, finding a unit/position, assembling a packet, and doing all the fun stuff like a physical will come in succession.
If the Reserves use a similar schedule for the DC board next as this year, I have a little over 54 weeks to get a final packet submitted for a June 2015 board. Now that I have an end result in mind, maybe I’ll stop simply going through the motions of going to the gym every day and actually start working to accomplish something more than “lose weight and feel better about myself.” I hope that this series turns out to be something good in the long run, and the last post is about me being sworn back into the Army Reserve as an officer.
Until next time…