Behind the Scenes

Originally posted June 30, 2016.

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FOB Speicher. Iraq, 2006.

I’ve been back and forth between RallyPoint and Facebook in what started off as a “math-avoidance” tactic, but turned into refining my retirement and trying to make sense of the fact that I don’t have to sign back in off of leave… EVER.

I came across the post of one anonymous Sergeant who was trying to sort out his personal feelings about Memorial Day and just plain old tired of the politics, politicians, foreign policy, and the overall bullshit which can become a substantial obstacle to a mid-career NCO. He posed the question “is there anybody else that can relate?”, and I answered:

I’ll share my Facebook commentary: “Not much profound to say for Memorial Day… I carry the memories of the those who passed on who, at some point, were a part of my past. Perhaps – if things were different – they would be reading this on their phones at a barbecue and smiling. Life goes on, and I will proudly carry on those memories as I continue to be the person I am… on my way to the person I will become.”

This goes along with the message I received from one of my contacts: “I’m hanging with Greg right now, I’ll be sure to let him know…” Greg is buried at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego – he was the first patient we lost during our ’06-’07 OIF deployment…and he wasn’t our last.

Yeah, I hear you and I get where you are coming from… it is *extremely* difficult to keep going in the face of apathy and adversity. Oh-ho-ho… I KNOW. To tell you the truth, it’s not going to get easier unless you apply some serious mental ju-jitsu to all that frustrates, irritates, and aggravates you. Learn to use the momentum of bureaucracy to your advantage – thrive in it… relish it. As Henry Rollins once said: “When life hands you a lemon, say, ‘Oh yeah, I like lemons! What else ya got?”… The Army will push your last button and fray your last damn nerve, but entrench yourself with your best asset – your Soldiers. *Show* them that the “jingoistic BS” can be tamed and redirected in a positive manner.

I also hear you about the current foreign policy issues. When Mosul and Tikrit fell to ISIS, I became acutely aware of the frustration felt by Vietnam Vets. I never wanted to go to Iraq in the first place – felt that we were making a HUGE mistake in ’03… but I re-enlisted and still went because, regardless of my feelings, I could not knowingly stand idle as my friends went into harm’s way. Camaraderie trumps personal politics… it sucks, but it’s what makes us stand apart. To put it into further perspective, my wife is Russian and the rest of her family is still there… along with that, history and open-source intelligence is sort of a hobby, so it would be safe to say that I REALLY don’t want to see hostilities involving Russia with anyone – it will be messy, as it always is with them. Still, I would not hesitate for a second if my services were needed. This is me and my strange sense of duty – not to a policy, but to the people wearing the Uniform.

With support comes the terse advice: commit either way. It’s a disservice to yourself and to your guys if you are having doubts. I’d love to sugar-coat that a bit more so I didn’t sound like some crusty old-school fart, but to do so would dilute the impact. Go into work, have a cup of coffee, and sit quietly and listen: if you hear a problem and are immediately thinking of a solution… then it is clear where your *heart* lies. If you see one of your guys (generic, non-gender/identity biased term), and you want to see him excel not because of any other reason than you know he can… again, it is clear where your heart and head are – not fretting over policy, but over the people wearing the Uniform. Y’dig? 🙂

(Forgot to answer your initial question: “Does anybody else question their competence on Memorial Day?” Yes, but that is what makes me strive to be better…)

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