Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Staying as Long as I Can

Before and during the last drill weekend, I decided to stay in the Guard till they throw me out which likely will mean going to Afghanistan in two years or so.  Our unit should be getting new aircraft at the beginning of next year.  If all goes well, I hope to go with them.

When I started working full time in Iraq writing about soldiers, it became clear that in an ideal world I would have been in public affairs all the way through the training to get ready to go to Iraq.  That way I could have gotten information about every soldier before we went on active duty and written about the whole process--civilian, to soldier in training, to the desert and back again.

So I will write about all the training we do until plans for the unit become more clear.  Then I will have to get waivers both to stay in the Army past 60 and to deploy.  Our sergeant major thinks both waivers are possible, but nothing is ever a sure thing with waivers and exceptions.

On Monday when we were at the Corn Maze, PA State Senator Mike Brubaker was welcoming the veterans as we went in.  Later when we were eating he came over to our table and asked if there was anything he could do for us.  My wife said, "Neil wants to stay in the Guard and go to Afghanistan.  Can you help him with that?"  Sen. Brubaker called his aide over.  It turns out we live in a different senatorial district, but he said Senator Smucker would certainly be willing to help.  My commander in Iraq, Scott Perry, is the representative for the PA 92nd district, so maybe I will have other help getting a waiver.

At least now I can stop thinking about what to do next.  I will try to stay in as long as I can.  If I can't stay, at least I tried.  Next drill I will take an eight-hour ride in a Chinook and take pictures of aerial gunnery.  No matter how long I get to stay, I will get to do a lot of fun stuff while I am in.

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