[Initially written 2015Dec04]
I don’t know anymore if the Army is right for me. I wanted to be hooah, and learn how to shoot, how to fight, how to clear a building. I wanted to serve my country and my people. This was supposed to be character building, empowering, and teach leadership. But I haven’t been to the range in over a year, and never to a Combatives course, and I’m not deployed so it’s not relevant for satellite soldier to learn how to clear a building. The rigid class system here is toxic. It’s not just that you owe certain customs and courtesies to higher ranks, it’s that you’re a nobody to them. Few will give you the dignity as a fellow human being who is just trying to make it by in the world. And I haven’t experienced leadership tasks, so that growth is lacking. (Much of that is due to my assignment at the brigade level, which generally means that the lowest ranked soldier here is an E-4, my rank. E-4s can lead any E-3, E-2, or E-1, but they aren’t around. I am the lowest guy on the totem pole, especially since I’m the “F***ing New Guy,” which is a rank unto itself since it puts you below the E-1. In time, this will change. I just have to wait a couple years for promotion.)
And why all this is so aggravating to me is because I’m so much more accomplished and valuable than this. I was raised in a culture of excellence, that praises scholarship, selfless-service, and honing talents. The Mormon/LDS Church and Boy Scouts put me at an advantage. My English degree taught me how to research, how to critically analyze, and it cultured me. It also taught me print layout and how to use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. My history minor taught me about politics, economics, philosophy, and human patterns and systems. Through college circumstance I picked up video editing, directing, and acting. On the productive-citizen scale, I’m at least a seventy-eight!
“Nevitt, be here at 0630 and stand fast until needed.”
“Don’t ask questions.”
‘. . .It’s raining, sergeant’
‘These forms are going to get wet.’
“There you go, Nevitt! Thinking for yourself again, and saying one sentence too many!”
“Specialist Snuffy, put these forms in the Humvee.”
And it seems they try to make you miserable. For the second time this annual quarter, a three-day weekend has been taken away from us. The first time they advanced an FTX to be during the three-day, and just yesterday they moved Holiday Block Leave forward so that it included the upcoming three-day, which forces us to use our personal leave instead of just getting a holiday. In another example, instead of maximize time they squander it, demanding we occupy a certain place with too much manpower for much longer than necessary. We also stay at work even an hour after the work day has ended, doing nothing (and I mean exactly that: we sit around and look at the floor, quietly asking each other why we are still here). Or even worse, we won’t be doing a thing all day, and then at 1300, “Alright, move your a**es! I want every single swinging d*** moving all these boxes into that container! And we’re going to be here until 2100!” Wtf? All this may seem simple, but it contributes to the morale of a soldier. If this were done at a corporation, you would have a strike. Why would I want to work like this?
All I want is to kill mamajammas, and write. Maybe the Army can’t help me do the first, but on my own I can still do the second. (Sadly, I’ll probably have to give up the first. Vigilantism is frowned on.)
I’m not without soberness about my circumstances: I should have joined as an infantryman, or Special Operations. It was offered to me, but the tech industry is in demand, and I wanted a plan for when I retired. Plus, Emily didn’t want to worry about me being in danger. But beyond the past few years, and bigger than that, I should have done ROTC when my gut told me, back in 2009. These are my mistakes, and I get that.
But it could be that enlistment isn’t for me. Maybe the officer route is better than I expect. I’ve heard from several people that it’s easier and the pay is better. How can you argue against that?