When the time comes…
In day-to-day conversation, the topic of staying in or getting out of the military often comes up.
Usually, military guys chat about places they’ve been, experiences they’ve had, etc. The memories can be good or bad, which lets loose a venting of enthusiasm or criticism, depending on the person, and the culminating apologetic thrust, highlighting the reason why a person is staying or leaving the military.
For me? I’m out, 100 percent. Of the Army, at least. When this point is reached, it often draws raised eyebrows.
“Really? But you…” and then come the few usual responses. And I’m very thankful and appreciative of those who think I do a good job, that I’m a good soldier, whatever. I’d never think to poo-poo on someone’s compliment.
“Yeah, but it’s just not for me,” is usually how I wrap things up. I talk about how I’m a restless soul–how I need change in my life, and how it’s almost time to move past the military chapter of my life.
Truth is, the Army has leeched out every last whiff of enthusiasm from me, and has taken a good chunk of patriotism as well.
I don’t mean that in any bitter sense. And I don’t want to be someone who starts wailing on and on. But I’ve seen a lot of unfortunate circumstances. I see a lot more colors than red, white and blue now. I know people who could tell you some crazy stories about mismanagement, corruption, whatever. It all piles up in a heaping tower of crap that rains down on occasion and makes me cynically shrug my shoulders and say “Yeah…figures” whenever something crazy, disheartening or outright criminal makes the news in regard to national policy, military goings on, or theaters of operation.
The whole thing makes me shake my head and furrow my brow. And I’ve been doing that for so long that I add an eyes-roll in now and then, for emphasis.
So, when the time comes, when the Army finally lets me go (barring any additional stop-loss games), I’ll be looking for work.
One idea was to continue in the governmental vein with something like the State Department, working as a foreign service officer. Roommate Adrian got me turned on to that and it did seem neat. But the recent firestorm concerning U.S. diplomats who pitched a fit over the possibility of serving in Iraq makes me do the head shake/brow furrow thing again.
For those not following…diplomats are needed in Iraq. Normally, the State Department asks for volunteers, offering generous incentives for those willing to go. However, no one is volunteering, so the State Department is looking at ordering some to go.
Naturally, the diplomats went snake sh*t and many applauded concerns raised by Jack Croddy, a senior foreign service officer, that sending the diplomats was a “potential death sentence.” They griped that many of them had children, and that it was beyond the pale for a country to ask men and women to serve in areas where they might have to sacrifice time away from family.
“It’s one thing if someone believes in what’s going on over there and volunteers, but it’s another thing to send someone over there on a forced assignment,” Croddy said. “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”
Indeed, Mr. Croddy.
I don’t even want to get in to a response, there are plenty of others doing that.
What this gentleman did point out to me, was that I was naive and stupid to think much of the corruption, selfishness, mediocraty and blind ambition that soured my enthusiasm for military service would never also be present in other aspects of government.
And, please, give me credit. It wasn’t just Mr. Croddy that drove me to such extremes. I’ve heard a great deal of stories from a great deal of people in and out of government all throughout my life, with candid conversations about ridiculous situations.
Maybe civil service is not for me at all. I strongly wish to serve–I’m fourth generation enlisted for God’s sake; but, more and more, I’m not so sure about sticking around.
“Good riddance,” some will say when I leave, I’m sure. And that’s fine. I pray for them the best.