Short-Term Memory Loss

Filed under: — lana @ 8:21 am

It must be a lovely time to work in some of these personnel offices in the Army. Every day must be so fun and exciting, because it becomes more and more apparent with each piece of paper that I need to process that some of these people clearly at least believe that they have never done any of this before.

All I need for this deployment is orders. Just one set of orders. I can make the copies myself. I promise. Orders attaching me to the unit which I am supposed to support for the duration of the deployment. Is that so much to ask?

The challenge appears to be that this is the first time the personnel office has ever encountered such a situation, as the orders attaching me to that unit appear to be mystifying them. I am unsure if it is my personnel office or somewhere higher in the food chain that is having first-day problems, and also unsure if they are aware that they just cut some orders a few weeks ago for another Soldier going from my unit to nearly the same exact assignment to which I will go. To them, it appears to all be an enigma. I am starting to wonder if they get out on the wrong side of the bed each and every morning, and on that wrong side is the wall, and upon that wall they bang their poor heads each and every day and thus forget everything they might possibly have learned before, and so each and every day is new and exciting for them.

Making each and every day exceedingly frustrating for the rest of us.


Oh the Humanity

Filed under: — lana @ 2:41 pm

I have once again sold my soul for a pair of cheap shoes.

Today I signed, sealed, and allowed the modern technology of the internet to deliver the extension paperwork to the higher headquarters that is my retention office. This will allow certain things such as my promotion to, heaven forfend, staff sergeant sometime next week. I do know a handful of people who might be appalled at this notion. In many of those cases, who could blame them.

My first sergeant, who quite pleasantly reminds me that this is but the first step to reenlistment (a statement after which he giggles maniacally and instructs me to take a picture so he can hang it on his wall), is most pleased with my actions. I have a sinking suspicion this has to do with him being my direct line military supervisor. As such, that means he gets to be the one to promote me next week.

For those who are unfamiliar with Army promotions, particuarly among the Non-Commissioned Officer ranks, they can be a touch uncomfortable. This discomfort was usually caused by the pins on the back of the rank being hammered into the promotee’s collarbone by the promoter. Since the change to the new uniforms, the discomfort might be caused by the snapping of the sternum, what with the elimination of the rank being pins on the collar in favor of velcro on the chestbone.

I asked my first sergeant whether I would have to travel out to him or if he and the commander would be traveling out to me for the event. He merrily responded, “Oh, I would travel quite a distance to punch you…” after which he tried to backtrack and say, “Promote! I meant promote!” but the damage was done. I told him I have a feeling I might be ill that day, to which he responded it was such a tragedy the Army doesn’t give us sick days.

The fact that I made him moderately cranky a few days ago only makes me more nervous. I have reminded him that I do have to be available to deploy, and snapping my ribs might preclude such. He disagreed that this was a problem, because if I don’t deploy I will be transferred out to where he is and then I get to see him all the time while my insides piece back together.

And so it appears that once again, true to form, I have given myself body and soul to this organization. If only I could find the receipt for those shoes…


Codine and Alcohol

Filed under: — lana @ 11:56 am

Apparently it isn’t just the depressant effects that make it a bad plan to combine codine with alcohol.

My doctor saw fit to cut open the ol’ toe again the other day, noting that the nail appeared to be mutating to grow vertically. After some gawking, he took me into the nursing station, grabbed some poor enlisted medic, and my foot once again became a training tool for those interested in podiatry mutations.

The procedure was quick and painless this time, most of my nerve endings having long since died off from the repeated trauma, and after it was over he told me to expect the usual amount of discomfort and gave me some a mild narcotic of which the main ingredient is codine.

Now of course I am not so dumb as to actually try to drink alcohol while taking a codine-based medication; I do have plans for the future which would be greatly mucked up should I become deceased. However, any trauma for which the recommendation is to take two pills of a narcotic before any sensation returns should be a hint that drinking at any point may not be wise.

Tragically for my foot, however, yesterday was a planned pre-deployment send-off gathering a few of my friends planned back when we thought I was leaving at the end of the week. And it was held at a place which served several selections of umbrella drink, and several of those contained rum. Figuring that it would be rude to not enjoy myself at my own party, and to be sure there was a lonely half bottle of rum in the back that needed some company, I ordered a drink or two.

When I got home, I discovered that alcohol thins the blood a bit. This was a fact of which i had previously been aware, but for some reason chose to ignore sometime around the time I uttered “Oooh. This one has mangojuice in it too!”

I threw away those socks. I am going to salvage the sneakers, I think, but the socks were sent the way of the dodo. And now I have to go buy more gauze.

Luckily, my doctor forgot my lack of sensation when he told me about the pain, and I didn’t need the codine last night. Of course, that also meant I didn’t notice the damp sensation at the front of my shoe while keeping half a bottle of rum company, but we all must make sacrifices sometimes.

Next time I will have to remember to wear black socks.


Changes and More Changes

Filed under: — lana @ 6:41 am

First departure date: End of the current month.

Second departure date: About a week prior to that.

Third departure date: Moved into next month.

Fourth departure date: Moved even further into next month.

There are some with doubts I will ever depart, despite my assurances that no, honestly, this happens every time I deploy. It seems that even with class dates and people sitting in the sand that need to be replaced it is extremely difficult for the Army to make up its mind. Given my previous experiences with attempting to get off the ground in one fashion or another, this does not come as a great shock. I recall Afghanistan, where in order to get there we on more than one occasion were left sitting on the tarmac with all of our gear waiting for a plane which refused to turn up. I recall Iraq where I flew halfway around the country before anyone could even decide where my final destination should be. Why should this deployment be any different? Someone might get it in their heads that the Army is actually organized, and then where would we be?

On second thought, don’t answer that.


Frequent Flyer

Filed under: — lana @ 10:44 am

Once again I get ready to leave for the Greatest Litterbox on Earth. Although I have done this twice before, it never hurts to have all of the available information so I don’t end up with three helmets but no ballistic vest.

This is made moderately more challenging by my lack of orders.

The lack of orders is mostly due to the fact that my departure date has now changed somewhere around three times, if not more, all within the span of a week and about a week of change between them. The problem appears to be somehow rooted in a class date for CRC, the CONUS Replacement Center, where I have to go prior to my departure.

Those of you familiar with military lingo might recognize that CONUS means “Continental US.” Those of you familiar with my little story might recognize that I am not, in fact, stationed in CONUS right now.

Yes, folks, I get to board a plane sometime in the next few weeks, fly all the way back to beautiful and scenic Fort Benning, get some items issued to me which I already possess, go through some training which I already have, grab a multi-tool and a new helmet and head all the way back across the pond to build sandcastles. Why, you and I both ask, can this not be done in Germany where we have many bases and in fact the equipment and training facilities necessary without the nine-hour flight each way? Well, when I figure out the answer, I will be sure to let everyone know.

At least they provide the packing list, which is helpful so I don’t over or under pack. Given that I fly commercial air to get there and hopefully pick up some frequent flyer miles along the way, this is quite nice of them. All I need now is for them to actually pick a date so perhaps someone somewhere can cut me some orders. For a little while each day it was “Ask again tomorrow,” until I realized that actually no one seemed to know exactly whom they were supposed to be asking. Having finally straightened out at least that part we are once again on the road to military productivity.

Military productivity. That sounds almost as silly as flying back to the States en route to the Middle East…


You Want Me To What?

Filed under: — lana @ 3:57 am

I suppose it is a bad sign when the first sergeant calls and says, “So, how much do you love me?” He did rephrase after I pointed out that due to the Army fraternization policy and the fact that we are both married and his wife is a lovely lady I couldn’t answer, but then continued with the loaded question of how much I like him. Tentatively responding with, “Well, you’re usually a pretty good guy… what do you want me to do now,” led him to happily mutter something about a deployment and oh gee, he had to get off the phone but someone would call back.

The phone rang about five minutes later and I answered to the excited voice of a major who works I think somewhere in our battalion taskings shop. Apparently, he didn’t realize earlier that I had made the promotion list and since I had, that meant that I was the last of a dying breed in the battalion: a staff sergeant without a current warrant officer packet in who was also not on tap to become a sergeant first class. There might be about three of us left in the battalion, and the other two are already on pending taskings.

After about five minutes of listening to him happily tell me about the drama of his day because he didn’t know how he was going to fill the current tasking, he mentioned something about six months and Iraq and should be great.

Then he paused for a breath, and I thought it would be my opportunity to speak, so I started with, “Well, sure, Sir, but…”

“Great!” and the click of the phone hanging up on his end.

Five minutes following, my first sergeant called me again and told me how great it was and how I owed him and that whatever I needed to give him a call and oh yeah, I leave in about three weeks.

A little confused, I told my boss that I believe I may now be deploying, that I would tidy up the last of the projects I have been working on, and would train my former Soldier to take over my position. I wandered back to my desk and sat down and promptly wondered what had just occurred.

Now, the deployment really is a good thing. I like deploying, I like the work down in the sand better than the work out here, and my husband happens to be a few hours away and traveling a lot down there so I will probably get to see him an awful lot, more than I do now, certainly. I will miss things like my cat whom I have to give away, Jack Bauer as the whole season of 24 will pass me by, and a trip to London with my parents.

I think what fazes me most, though, is that I am not even sure what exactly it was that I agreed to, or if there was even a question asked, that allowed them to cut me orders for this one. Quite frankly, I have no idea what actually transpired in that ten minutes of phone conversations that mostly consisted of a major telling me how upset the colonel was that the slot hadn’t been filled yet.

But no time to figure it out. I really should start packing…

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