Two steps forward, one back. You know that old line.
The instructor gig has stalled. The Department of Defense says “yes.” The Army says “yes.” But Fort Hood and two out of five personnel clerks somewhere say “you can’t be reassigned, you’re locked in to your unit until 2009.”
I’m sure it’s just a matter of the huge beast of military bureaucracy remembering to pump blood to one of its 14,000 appendages to sign a particular form…but it’s exasperating nonetheless. As of yesterday I seemed on track, but today I’m locked down again, unable to leave the post.
There are a lot of people in our corner of post desperately trying to flee Fort Hood. Our command staff has been gutted and the last vestiges of old guard will be leaving within a month or two. The officers are all beaming as they leave for their new commands, from San Antonio to Japan. And I’m not saying they don’t deserve better assignments; it’s just that many of the enlisted are stuck, unable to climb out of the black hole of Texas.
The very junior enlisted don’t even try. They know they don’t have the clout to swing a new assignment. The middle guys like myself are hit and miss–some are resigned to staying while others fight to leave. Most of the fighters are running into the same problem I am–that someone locked a huge swatch of us in to Hood. They call it “stabilization” but many suspect it’s a way of ensuring enough numbers are left to deploy. My code has me staying put until August of 2009, which would put me at four and a half years here if I lived out the whole term. Ugh!
I have hope, though. My ace in the hole is reenlistment. Yes, I must dive deeper into the Army in order to escape it. Strange, isn’t it? I suppose it’s like surgery, where you have to wound in order to heal. Where others are all getting to a certain stage in their bid for a new assignment and hitting a wall, my intent to reenlist will boost me over that wall. Hopefully there won’t be another obstacle beyond that. If so, I’ll start writing Congressmen. I wonder if they get tired of hearing from us.
In other news, they’re finally launching an investigation into college transcript fraud in and around our unit. You see, it’s difficult for certain jobs to get promoted in the Army, usually since there are four billion of that particular job. So, one of the ways you can boost your promotion points is by earning college credit. The idea is that those who go that extra mile will better themselves and show that extra bit of ambition, pushing them in front of their peers. With these sorts of scams, someone starts up a garage university and starts cooking up degrees and transcripts.
But the higher ups have started catching folks with bogus stuff. I’ve noticed a few people getting their recent promotions rescinded. One sergeant complained that it was “embarrassing” since people saw her get promoted, and now notice she’s wearing her former rank.
Sorry dear, I spent four years of my life earning my degree. I’m paying back student loans. I stayed up late, wrote reports, stressed about tests, and generally endured the pleasant and unpleasant aspects of university life. I didn’t hand someone $200 for a doctored transcript. If you’re looking for sympathy, you’ll have to move on down the line.
I had “heard” a lot of rumors about the transcript stuff all throughout the Iraq rotation, but hearsay hardly proves anything. Still, it was always interesting to ask someone who had just completed a “program” which courses they took, or which ones were the hardest for them; and then watch as they had no idea how to answer. That’s how some of these poor jerks are being caught–they have no idea what classes are listed on their transcripts. Ack! Read the blasted thing before you turn it in!
Some shady times here. Mostly legal, but shady. Here’s hoping the instructor gig goes through. I’m half torn between feeling sorry for the poor bastards left here, and coldly looking out for myself, which is what old soldiers always say to do.