Yesterday afternoon we landed in America. But I am not home yet. I and everybody else who is out processing from Iraq and Afghanistan cannot leave post until all the paperwork is done. I am in the advance group so we will be on Fort Dix for another three weeks.
But at least we are in America. It is nice to be in my home country even if I can't go home. The Army is a great place to learn patience--or to find out you can't.
This morning in the welcome before 7 1/2 hours of briefings, a colonel told us he thought he was ready to go back to civilian life after his first deployment in 2004. He returned to his job as a marketing manager for a large pharmaceutical company. In a meeting that was dragging on because everyone was waiting for someone else to do something, he stood up and said, "Enough, it's time to make a God-damned decision." He decided to be full time in the Army after that.
I can imagine that in the nasty days of 2004 the transition from life under fire to life in meetings was abrupt. For me, the last few months have almost been life a planned transition back to "the world." I have been working in an office, more importantly a quiet office, with very polite people around me. The Army would blow in and out of the doors when there was an emergency, but then calm resumed.
And now I have three weeks of paperwork in America instead of the usual rush. I can't wait to be a civilian again. I'll just be serving one weekend a month from now until they throw me out for being to old (age 60).