This weekend I will be taking more pictures. Many soldiers will be getting awards from the Iraq tour. The official change of command ceremony for the battalion will also be tomorrow.
In addition we will have a post-deployment health assessment. We will be asked a bunch of questions about our health as well as how much we drink and whether we are angry, depressed or have nightmares. That's all pretty standard.
The interesting thing is the logistics. Up until a few weeks ago, we could fill out an assessment form on line. Then the on-line version was closed to National Guard. There is also an 888 number, but that is the plan B. The plan A is that we all load up on buses tomorrow and ride over to the VA Medical Center in Lebanon to fill-out the form with counselors on site. The full time soldiers say that they cut off on line access because the state planned for us to complete the assessment in person. They authorized work on Saturday and Sunday to get this done. If we don't show up, the state will be angry because they budgeted for staffing and if we don't use the program they will have wasted money.
So in the tail-wagging-the-dog world of the Army, we will all load up on buses and stand in long lines so someone in state government will not be seen as wasting money. We are state civil servants. Most of us are too low in rank to come to the notice of the state bureaucracy, but the top leaders of the PA National Guard are very much part of the state government.
From the time I re-joined, I have heard many of our leaders say "appearance is reality" a truism that, like stereotypes, is true most of the time at the shallowest level. We do many things just for appearances and many of them involve riding buses.