…on the other hand

You will probably see two sides of me during my stint in the military.

One is this idealistic optimist, romanticizing the war and writing about how people grow and chafe amid stress and loneliness.

Then there’s the other me — the me that comes out when dealing with the bullshit of the military.

Side A is responsible for all of the long, thought-filled prose; while Side B spits out the raw, unpolished, venting posts.

I need to get a couple of faces to put with each, so you all will be able to see who’s doing the talking.

So, without delay, here are some words from Side B:

With less than a week left before we leave, time is at a premium. Most units, since there’s little left to do, will allow their soldiers to go home early though the day to their families and friends, to let them spend time in the arms of their loved ones.

Not so with our unit. Formations and multiple inspections and classes fill the daylight hours. One senior noncommissioned officer said, “Now is when we start to occupy your time. If we let you have free time, then you get in trouble. What we need to do is take all of the staff sergeants (E6) and below and put you in tents right here in the field, so we can keep tabs on you.” Wow, thanks.

There was a new packing list published today, changing the makeup of our bags. Luckily not much changed, as my other belongings have been packed and stored. There’s not much I swap out at this point.

Our bags won’t hold everything we’ve been told to bring. Now, instead of wearing our body armor, helmets, and gas masks, we’ve been told to also pack them into our already full bags.

“If things don’t fit, make them fit,” our first sergeant announced to the company. The unit is not making any provision for additional bags or later shipments of goods.


Now comes the task of figuring out what to leave behind. Will it be my winter clothes (the things that will keep me warm in the below-freezing night temperatures of the winter months)? How about my soap and razor? Leave behind my uniforms? How about my boots?

The top candidate for the left-behind list is my nuclear-biological-chemical equipment. It’s a set of very bulky gear that will protect us in the event of a chemical weapons attack. If it’s a choice between my body armor and my chemical suit, I’ll take my body armor, which I will use everyday.

Choices, choices.


About salemonz

Born in San Diego, Calif. Raised as a Navy Brat, I jumped ship and crossed over to the Army. Served as an enlisted journalist for a bunch of years, then helped the DoD figure out what the hell to do with social media. After the Army, now I drift down the river of life, trying not to be a jerk.

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