Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Ten Years Ago: Re-enlistment Paperwork

At Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2009 running the Army Physical Fitness Test
in a gas mask. My official job was Chemical Weapons Decontamination Specialist.

In the last blog post, I finally made the call to begin the re-enlistment process. After calling the recruiter, I pulled together all the documents I could find to confirm my prior service, scanned them and sent them. 

Two days after the call, I was the dog that caught the car.  I thought, “What now?!!”  What was I going to do if I actually got back in the Army. I thought about volunteering for some sort of chemical weapons job.  Most everyone dislikes chemical weapons in principle and in practice.  Wearing a gas mask and chemical protection gear is somewhere from uncomfortable to horrible.

But the fact that most people don’t like the chemical weapons branch made it attractive. It fit with the idea that I was replacing my failure at community service with Army service.  

Part of my thinking in re-enlisting was that I would join a Type A group of people in community service.  I had tried volunteering with local charitable groups. I failed. The people who run food pantries and women’s shelters and adoption support groups are really nice people. 

They drove me nuts.

When I volunteered, I just wanted to do something useful: Stack boxes, sort cans, something. But volunteering with nice people means a lot of hand-wringing. Also in the first years of the new century the economy was good. It was artificially good as it turns out, but in 2007, the economy seemed good, the terrorists had not attacked again.

I wanted the organization I volunteered for to have a goal and fight for it.  The Army was in two wars and needed soldiers.  The change in recruiting age that would allow me to get back in was proof the Army really needed soldiers.  By simply showing up I could definitely do one thing that I had done in 1972: Show up.  If I was in the Army, the Army needed to recruit one less soldier. 

So if things worked out and I got back in, I would volunteer for chemical weapons protection of some kind.  But first I had to get in.

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