Yesterday was the last day of my last National Guard Annual Training. By the time my unit heads for next year's two-week session of playing Army, I will be a civilian again. As I drove home from Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., I realized that during this Annual Training, I finally found one of the things I was looking for when I re-enlisted seven years ago.
When I first enlisted back in 1972, I made some friends for life. I know that this time around, I was hoping to make those kind of friends again. In civilian life it is much harder to make real friends than it is in the Army. Companionship is the soil friendship grows in and no one with a family, a job and even one hobby has time for anything else.
During this annual training, the State Public Affairs Office on Fort Indiantown Gap let me work at a desk in their office. I even got a key to work on the weekends and at night. It was great to have internet and a real workspace--I have neither at my unit. But the best part was being in a large room for hours with other people doing the same job, facing the same difficulties, and laughing at the same misunderstandings--by civilians and by the people we work for.
It reminded me of how much fun it was to work at an ad agency because there were a dozen other writers. We could all bitch about clients, check each others work, suggest revisions and share jokes.
C.S. Lewis said that the way to find happiness in your work is to work with people you like and admire. For nearly 30 years, I have tried and mostly succeeded in working with people I really like. The days I spent at the Public Affairs Office during annual training are some of the best days I spent since re-enlisting. I am very glad that before I return to being a civilian, I got to spend several days with people who work hard and handle difficulties with skill--and with good humor.