Deciding on a future
With a nod and a wink, my path was set.
I had been talking with the colonel’s secretary, a very attractive specialist whom I chatted with every so often while I waited to see the old man. She was asking about my plans, if I was staying in, if I was getting promoted (the fiasco had made its way through some circles).
“No, I think I’m getting out,” I said.
“When?” she asked.
“Oh, uh, you’ll be in Iraq, Sgt. Salmons.”
“Really? You’ve heard something?”
Then came the nod and wink part. Not that I bet the whole of my estate on the passing rumors of junior soldiers, but it was one of multiple reports I’ve heard concerning the subject. Things in Iraq are a bit dire. Tens of thousands of additional troops are gearing up to go, filling the immediate levy and preparing for the increased rotational demand. Whereas our unit’s initial plan was to lay low until a few months after I had planned to leave, that timetable had been moved up considerably.
The choice I have been wrestling with is this: whether to live out my days as an enlisted journalist, being passed from unit to unit, working in capacities that don’t exactly make me pop awake every morning and rush to work; or continue my trek toward an Air Force commission, where things would be a little better for ol’ Salmons.
I had been in contact with family and friends over the matter. Naturally, all want me to find something that makes me happy. I have no idea what that will be, but I am restless enough to want to move on from my current circumstances. Now that my exit window out of the military has all but closed, I am looking to trade up a couple of years for a drastically improved lifestyle. If commissioned, my time requirements in the service would increase, but they’d be good years, at better pay, more opportunity to improve service members’ lives and all that.
So there it was, at the behest of a specialist, where I all but made my choice. I’m of course still open to the divinings of the Almighty–signs on the wall, burning bushes and all that; but this is the path for now. May it be blessed or cursed.
On a lighter note. I was selected as the FORSCOM journalist of the year. Meaning of all the deploying active-duty soldier journalists, I was considered top dog. Not bad for someone who is barely utilized as a journalist, eh? I also had a photograph that was selected as the top “stand alone” picture. Also also, and the biggest surprise, was the fact that our own “Wrangler” newsletter won second place of all the publications in theater.
Mind you, it was put together by me in between convoys, briefings and exhaustion. I slaved over that thing, but it only had our stories–bits about fuel and supplies, not exactly “Saving Private Ryan” stuff. Other papers, especially the division- and corps-level publications, had a dozen reporters buzzing around, designing and laying out, with several supporting subordinate units providing adequate stories.
“The Wranger” had me. I’ll take second place, for serious!
So there’s that business. Pretty cool that big Army thought I did okay over there, even if the unit doesn’t really make a stir about it. I’m happy with the nod. The lack of local hoopla isn’t a big deal.