You know, for years I’ve seen people with cush assignments. I wondered how they got them—who they knew, all that. I still run into people who have had a bunch—one after another, never deployed, 12 years in, on and on.
“I definitely can’t complain,” is the usual line, with a knowing smile that life has dealt them pocket aces.
After a good, long spell in a place like Fort Hood, you tend to look down on people who have had seasons of easy assignments. It’s not outright hate; more like jealousy. The idea is that eventually you’ll get a good assignment. You hope it’s sooner rather than down the road, obviously; but the good ones are out there. How else would anybody stay in at all?
There are some poor bastards at Fort Hood who have been here for years and years—no hope of getting reassigned. “Job’s too crucial,” command says as they themselves ship out for other assignments. “The Army will keep you right here.”
Some of the young kids wanted to see the world, but have naught but a half decade of Iraq and Texas. They’re fed up of the place, but what else is there? The cush assignments go to other people, after all.
So what do I do when I become one of those who gets a cush assignment? Not that I did much bashing of cats who landed good jobs, but I heard my share. How should I feel, knowing a lot of guys are in line for their third or fourth deployment away from their families, whereas I’ve just had one?
Do I feel guilty being a deployment lightweight? I mean, Iraq for a year wasn’t a flippin’ picnic; but it hardly was as socially and emotionally arduous as three rotations.
Now that the Army has gone to 15-month deployments, I feel that my share of the load was inadequate. Just 12 months? “Meh,” they’ll say. “Try two, 15-month rotations.” And they’re right.
Is it my fault that the Army wants me to teach at Fort Meade? Challenging in its own right, to be sure, but hardly war. How do I wrestle with the fact that a lot of my friends probably won’t have spouses after this next deployment? When I’m sipping Johnnie Walker at Christmas and my bros are sucking sand again, I wonder how I should deal with that?
I did, after all, try to volunteer for a second straight year of Iraq; but the higher-ups said no, strangely. I’m not one to shy away from hardship; but I don’t have any shame about taking this new gig in D.C. There’s just part of me that wishes we all could bear the load more equally, I suppose.