yes no yes no
Alright, I’m going back to the states.
They still haven’t made up their minds, but I have two days to be out of my trailer, so they can figure things out as I leave.
Just for posterity, I’ve been trying to find out where the short circuit happened. My request to stay was three fold. First we had to get permission from my commander. Then we had to push the “packet” through my division (the losing unit). Then we had to push the packet through my new division (the gaining unit).
As soon as it left my realm of influence (i.e. my unit), it apparently stopped completely. After asking around for weeks, I was finally told yesterday that my case “wasn’t a priority, so no action has been taken.”
And there we go, friends. That pretty much summarizes my entire experience with the military. For all the parades, flag waving, well wishers and grandiose speeches about vanguards of freedom and benevolent champions of justice; when reality sets in, I remember that I don’t matter. I can try to volunteer or fix something all I want, but if it requires someone else to help complete it, it’s a crap shoot if it gets done.
We call this “I could give two sh**s about what you need” as getting a dose of “humble pie,” which can be anything from a well-deserved reprimand, to being blown off and told to shut up because you are lower ranking than the person who has to work.
I remember back in the states, every once in a while I’d run across an angry patron of a business, fuming at how he or she had been treated. They’d be all in a mess because the service wasn’t exemplary, or some sh**. And I’d be surprised that someone could be offended so easily.
That’s one of the harder lessons to learn while in the military–to deny your sense of worth and individuality, to be pushed around and ignored. The overall, overarching reason for this humility and servant attitude is to bolster the atmosphere that we’re all equal, struggling in harsh circumstances; and that it is through collective sacrifice that we can eek out a ration of normalcy in the God-awful mess of war.
However, in reality, some are more equal than others. A person’s willingness to step forward and bear the stripes of military service is honorable, but it is cheapened when you see how many are out to take and steal all they can, at the expense of others.
There’s a female admin sergeant in my unit who is an amazing person. She refuses to let the other sections blow off soldiers when she has the power to help. As a reward, she gets harassed by her boss, her coworkers and her subordinate personnel sections. She gets blamed for things out of her control and has to correct and rewrite the piss-poor quality of paperwork submitted through her section.
When I asked why she takes all the extra time to fix the mistakes others purposefully put off on her, she said, “It’s the soldier who is not going to get the deserved award. Why should they suffer because these other people are lazy?” You see, people know she will stay hours beyond what she has to, so they take off early and hardly try.
Everyday I go out and sit with her as she smokes and listen to how she’s on the edge of a breakdown. She just can’t take how selfish people are, and how many are just here for the paycheck and don’t care. I don’t know what to tell her. I try to be an encouragement, but it’s hard to see through the flippant attitudes of these cats, never having to leave the safety of their camps, complaining about how many flavors of ice cream are in the DFAC, working on their tans at the swimming pool, and complaining about how bored they are.
This is war? These are warriors?
She did have a small victory.
There was a corporal who was supposed to have made sergeant this month, but his promotion paperwork was completely scrambled. His battalion just blew him off and said to wait until we got back to the states, but God bless that admin sergeant, who outright fought with the subordinate battalion’s people, the regional personnel office’s people, and people stateside to prove that they had made mistakes and this soldier deserved to be promoted. After six weeks, the corporal pinned on his sergeant rank, after all the involved parties were finally proven to have been lazy and mistaken.
But she’s a dying breed within the service. It’s far, far easier to just sit and get paid. There’s a mantra I’ve coined about service in the Army:
If you work hard, you get promotions, medals, and a lot more work. If you blow off work, you get promotions, medals, and, since you can’t be trusted to do anything, no work.
It’s this subsidized atmosphere that leads to where there are no consequences for laziness. I can’t be fired, I’m in Iraq, and you have to give me an award (based on rank, of course); what are you going to do? The easy answer is nothing, to collect your portion of glory, make up a war story to two, and move on to the (hopefully not as f***ed up) next unit.
People who are competent are jumped on and savagely torn apart by the sloths, who burden them with ever-increasing workloads until they’re burnt out or forced out of service. What you’re left with is an inefficient, obese, fickle, complaining gaggle of uniforms.
And so all that to say that’s what seems to have happened for my little request for an extension: nobody cared to even pass it down the line. Now I’ll go back home and the unit getting here will be short handed. In a few months I’ll get shipped out again and will be extended past my enlistment exit date.
Everybody wins. Everybody’s a hero.