Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Final Word

I tried to gather a list of reasons why I should be exempt, allowed to leave. Tried to think of a way to present them that would somehow persuade them. Then it dawned on me that it wasn't going to happen.

No Poor Me excuses are going to work. As I stepped back and looked at the case I was trying to present, it just looked weak. Feeble. Selfish.

Then, for the first time, I REALLY realized the gravity of the truth. I really did sign a contract.

See you in Part Four.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All Volunteer

"Hey! What's up, Stop-Loss?"

"Hey man, I thought you were getting out? Did you get stop-lossed?"

Sometimes I manage to stop and make eye contact. "How the fuck should I know?!"



Right now, I don't want to see any of these faces. The uniforms. The carbon copy buildings. My head turns into concrete and cracks. You couldn't chisel the scowl off of my face with a jackhammer.

I wait to find out if my situation is enough to warrant letting me go. Hinging on the college acceptance letter, sometimes even fooling myself into thinking that it'll work. I move from group of guys to the next every five minutes. The army talk gets to be too much and I have to find something else, anything. That doesn't work so well when it's everywhere around you.

"I thought you were getting out...?"

Just keep walking.

God I hope so.




For some reason, I guess I really believed that after I put in four years, that would be it. I'd be able to pick up where I left off, and move on. Start a new chapter and all that flowery poetic shit. It seemed so plausible. 2009? Shit, shouldn't be much going on by then, right? No?

"Hey man, you signed a contract, you knew what you were getting yourself into."

That is where I disagree. If we actually understood what we were volunteering for, we would have had second thoughts.

You volunteer to be shot in the head. Blown up. Drowned in the Tigris. Burned alive. Lose eyesight, a limb, an important function, or everything. If none of this happens, excellent! It's the dark ugly truth that sits in the back and stares at everyone else in the room, but somehow no one really notices it. You didn't even realize it, but you volunteered for it. You invited it into your life. You volunteered to learn more about death and loss than you ever wanted to know in a thousand lifetimes. You volunteered to have hope snatched out of your hands and blinders ripped off of your eyes.



I avoid the new guys, plenty of the old guys too. Someone from the University I got accepted to calls me to see if I have any questions. That's about when I swallow hard, pull the knife out of my ribs, and croak a response. Keep the conversation short, give your thanks, hang up, and roll over again. Sure would be nice to have the day off, go somewhere and chill, away from Fort Lewis. Away from combat patches and CIBs and desert boots. Try to blend into the crowd, fake it as long as I can.

I was almost there. That close. Now? Now I'm not so sure. So thanks, Iraq. Thanks, Afghanistan. Thanks, Stop-Loss. Thanks to the able bodied and capable would-be soldiers, college drop-outs, pot head burnouts, dead-end minimum wage peons. Thanks, me. Well played.

Ever have a REALLY good dream, and your alarm wakes you up halfway through it? You shut your alarm off and wish that you could go back to that, but you can't. That's what this is like, to put it lightly. It's a wake-up call. One MotherFucker of a cup of coffee. Extra Strength. Guaranteed to burst your bubble or your money back.



So here's what happens:

A) An update with some great news is posted

B) We'll see you in Part Four.



Suspect out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Belittling Others

This is a little something I found on an internet forum full of young'uns eager to enlist. The guy that wrote this, I want to give him my spot. This guy needs to be the new Suspect. Maybe I'm a dick, but his unique writing style entertains me to no end, and the content, the substance, c'est magnifique!




"What the hell, there is a lot of soldiers with adhd in the army,I have been commenting for weeks here.Look not everyone is the same, it depends on your symptoms,I am planning on joining on may and I have add.Not everyone is the same is gonna be tough on bootcamps yes,but who says is immposible if a lot of soldiers have done it why can I what makes me diferent from them.

To tell you the truth I am 26 and what it really has help me is being mature,detemination,you think bootcamp was made to be impossible to pass no it was made to be really hard to be a soldiers.

I bought the book ultimate basic training guidebook,and I. Am preparing before I go over there and I am doing runing exercises.

There is a lot of things you can do to help yourself too pass bootcamp,preparing early,determination.

But is truth add is a condition if it is not treated since the begining, it can be a very serious condition I have been treated and the symptoms that I have are very little,boot camp is gonna be my test to see if I pass and I will let people here know that it can be done.

What is hard is not impossible and impossible is just a word."






Really, I just want to take this one line and put it on a t-shirt and wear it every day, covered in ketchup/mustard/hotpocket stains, seldom if ever washed, letters peeling.

I bought the book ultimate basic training guidebook,and I. Am preparing before I go over there and I am doing runing exercises.

Oh man, I want to sign all my gear over to you RIGHT NOW.

Seriously though, maybe we can work something out. Wher did we suposed to fucked up?!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Acceptance

I still have little more than hearsay and rumors to go off of.

The odds of me being stop-lossed are very good. In fact, for all intents and purposes, I am already. There are medical issues I can try to bring up, and supposedly someone higher up said that if you've already got a letter of acceptance from a college or university, then there's a 90% chance you'll be able to go. Again, that's hearsay.

I wasn't even mad when I walked in and heard the news from my friends. I just had questions. A definitive answer is all that I want. Whichever way this thing goes, I'll go along with it, sure. I just want to stop wondering.

Yeah, I'd like to get out, get schooled, live. Then there's a part of me that's slightly relieved. I don't want to see these guys get deployed while I chill. This should be the last one, right? Maybe?

There's a lot of people on this side of the pond that have been waiting patiently, with fingernails chewed to ragged bloody scraps, for me to be done with all this. There's people here that expect me to continue to contribute to the unit. They want to keep the guys with experience, and I can understand that completely.

Me? I'm split in half, right down the middle. Get out, or deploy. That sense of moral obligation I first had, four years ago, it resurfaces in small glimpses.




So who do I let down?

You? Them? I don't even know if the choice is mine. I almost hope it isn't.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Good Sign

If what I've heard from multiple sources is in fact true, I just might eek past this stop-loss ordeal.

Exciting huh? Cross your fingers!



A part of me feels a little guilty already, but let's not speak too soon eh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Worthy Enough

Just got this email and it seems righteous enough to pass along. Here it is:




I was introduced to your blog through a good friend who is retired from the military and first off, thank you for your sacrifice and service to our country.

I am writing to introduce Muze Clothing and our current partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project to benefit troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. I thought that perhaps the Veterans, Soldiers, and others in your circle of contacts may have some interest in supporting this worthy cause.

Muze Clothing’s unique concept of creating shirts with compelling graphics and classic movie lines has created a tremendous fan base. The company will use this fan base to assist wounded troops, when service members and their supporters will submit movie lines and complementary shirt designs that exemplify the motto of freedom’s defenders, sacrificing their lives for their fellow Americans.

These submissions will be judged by a panel of celebrities. The winning submission will be incorporated into the newest Muze T-shirt with 100% of the proceeds on the sale of this shirt being donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

The Service Member with the winning submission (or the Service Member identified by the supporter with the winning submission) will be flown from a continental United States location with 3 friends to the shirt launch ceremony in Los Angeles on May 16th, 2009.

You can get more details on the promotion at: www.muzeclothing.com/blog/woundedwarriorsinfo

Thank you for helping us spread the word on this partnership.

Best regards,

Kyle

Monday, March 2, 2009

Schizophrenic Headbashing

Schizophrenia loosely translates to "split mind".

From the comments I've received, it shows that I don't need to be cryptic anymore. There's a decent chance I could be stop-lossed and deployed again. Not five feet from me is a complete copy of my medical history from the past four years. Two inches thick, one sided paper.

Fuck them, dude, fuck all of them. Fuck everyone, you did what you said you would, your time is up, this is YOU now, they can all eat a big bag of dicks.

Yeah, and that contract I signed? You ever take a closer look at it? It's very OPEN on their end.

Are you fucking serious? Please, for the love of GOD, do not be one of those fucking tools who buys into that, "Well you signed a contract" bullshit.

...But I did.

Without any clue what you were getting yourself into. Yeah, you THOUGHT you knew, you know, cuz you were nineteen and a fucking genius and all. That was several funerals ago.

Back then, I signed up to help the guys who were already getting nailed. Now? The guys I fought with are going again, plus new guys, plus guys from other units joining us. No matter what, THEY ARE GOING.

Someone is ALWAYS going to go. Think about it, you schmuck. A little over four years ago, you didn't have SHIT to worry about. Now you've done your four, but because of that waiver of rights, I mean "contract", you can be stop-lossed or called back, or any other manner of Voluntarily Molested By Uncle Sam.

There's still that National Guard option. They have a slot open for a combat medic.

Yyyyyyeah, plus your previous MOS, either way, you're still on the ground.

But odds are, we wouldn't even get deplo--

.....Combat medic and what, EMT as a civilian? Good plan, chief. Fuck yourself up a bit more. GET A REAL EDUCATION AND LIVE LIKE A NORMAL HUMAN BEING FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN, HOW'S THAT SOUND?

If they DO stop-loss me, this time around, I know to save ALL that money. I have hardly any bills.

Are you fucking serious? Really? Open your eyes, man. Most 18, 19 year olds, they start their lives just fine, without having to enlist to support them. They aren't all trust fund babies either. These are the average Joes and Janes, and not the GI type either.

That doesn't change the fact that I'm bound by contract. I can't go, "Oh, my bad, this doesn't work for me." I'm so invested in this already that we're too far in to go and fuck it up now.

Shit, they probably wouldn't even so much as issue a warrant.

And that would make the GI Bill worth LOTS, wouldn't it?

GI Bill isn't worth shit when you're dead either.

Fuck you.

Fuck YOU. You goddamn bleeding heart. Go back and read the horseshit you wrote back in the early days, bright eyes and high hopes, blinders in full effect. Try to buy into that again if you can, really, I would just LOVE to see it.

It's just a matter of doing time, covering your ass, and getting out. Going along to get along, playing the game.

Sure, sure it is. It's Russian Roulette. Fuck man, open your eyes. EVERY NEW BULLSHIT MOVIE THAT COMES OUT FINDS A WAY TO SOMEHOW SHOWCASE THE NEW ARMY WITH THE NICE NEW UNIFORMS. Strange coincidence? It's a fucking recruiting tool.

Yeah, and it's sick and insulting and apalling.

AND it's ineffective, or else you wouldn't be writing this, Dude wouldn't be writing about his friends getting The Letter either.

And HOW much of this is even up to me? Uhh......nnnnnnone. It's a gamble no matter which way you slice it.

Well, hindsight is 20/20 they say. Remember how they all said you should try college first? Hmm. About that. Too late now. Now you went and put your name in the hat because you knew everything, and you were out to crusade and pick your share of cotton for the Greater Good. Where did it get you? Panic attacks? You don't even remember 90% of your graduating class. Is that because there were just too many people, or were you blown up a bit too much?

I can't do shit about it except for hope for the best and prepare for the worst and you know that.

And how trite. You are staring straight down the barrel of another deployment, and for what? Not even TOUCHING the WMD etc argument, we're talking another year of your life (and you have no idea how many of those you even have left) spent in a section of the earth that isn't worth living in, supporting a culture that couldn't give two shits about us. Two-faced lying bastards. If they had ANY sense of community, this shit would not have gone on for SIX YEARS. Just like that call you got last time around. About the building that was rigged to blow? The Iraqi Army got wind of it, but when asked about what they were doing, they said, "Oh, we're waiting for the Americans to get here." And who walked in there? You and two officers. Real bright man. You even ate lunch in there.

Fucking think about it dude, YOU, an E4, have say in exactly JACK SHIT. You want to roll the dice for another 365? Pass that revolver around long enough and your number is bound to come up. Trying to fight a nice neat, tidy politically correct conflict? Fuck you dude. Fuck you. Voluntary sitting duck moron. You're a tool, a cog, and nothing more. Raising your hand for a chance to be a statistic in the newspaper. Iraq doesn't sound so cool the second time around, does it?

Fuck you, Call of Duty.

Fuck you, Jerry Bruckheimer.

Fuck every lying, conniving recruiter out there.

Back in six months? Fuck no, you let me out and I'm gone for GOOD. I'll flip burgers or sweep parking lots.

Fuck every last prick who doesn't have the balls to admit that we FUCKED UP, and would rather lay young men and women to rest than claim responsibility for a failure. Iraq is supposed to be stable after we pull out? Gotcha.

Fuck every liberal opinionated douche that I've yet to meet, especially the one that'll get my seat in class if I get sucked back into this. Fuck every whiny, suicidal, self-pitying emo fuck that would rather choke on downers than sign up and hold a spot so that a vet can go to school.

Fuck every Go Army bumper sticker, every magazine ad, every commercial, every lie. Fuck every left-wingnut who assumes that every last Joe is brainwashed.

Fuck Iraq and everyone in it, every last one of them. Each and every one of them assuming that THEY are a special case. Fuck them and both of their two-faces.

Fuck every overzealous bastard that fills third world citizens of religious fanaticism and drives them to murder in the name of a god. A god isn't SHIT if he or she or it cannot kill on their own. Fuck the mosques and fuck the churches, like you need some sort of reserved area to be religious? Deities aren't native americans, you can't push them aside and then try to buy fireworks from them.

Fuck whoever decided that America is #1 and has to govern the rest of the planet. This is just a hunk of land. Imaginary borders. The only thing that seperates us from anyone else, is the illusion of seperation. Fuck that.

Fuck me for buying into all of this.

Fuck every conversation about it all being for oil, and fuck every conversation about it being for democracy. Call it what you want, but the real reason is simple: we're sick. SICK.

Fuck this blog and every contradiction in it. Fuck this whole organized mess. But really, all I'm doing is spraying it in any direction I can see. What I want to say, is fuck me. Fuck me. Fuck me for thinking that it was going to be that simple. Fuck me for putting myself in the position to feel like I have to choose between the guys in uniform and my own future.

I'm going to continue going about clearing post and getting out, looking over my shoulder the entire time. Completely unable to get excited about college or anything else with the shadow of the back door draft (you signed up for it -- FUCK YOU!) looming overhead.

Fuck it man, it goes one of two ways. They let me out, I go about my life as a relatively normal and decent person. Or, they keep me in, deploy me again. Paranoia like a motherfucker, trusting no one who isn't in uniform, and even then it's up for debate. All bets are off, it's about saving money and staying alive and intact. An old man on a bike doesn't stand a chance against my will to live. Humanity simplified down to its finest and most honest: me before you, asshole.

That isn't who I want to be. That's what I mean when I say that my soul hangs in the balance. If I get deployed again, I honestly don't think I'll have room for any emotion other than hate. Hate for me, hate for my superiors, hate for all of them. Hate for everything within sight. When you can't trust an eight year old boy, that's when you know things are really fucked up.

And make no mistake, things are VERY VERY fucked up. Fuck all of it. And fuck every second I spend waiting to find out what happens. DEMOCRACY LIVES. Hooah?!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Call It In The Air

This can go either way. Chew the fingers to the bone while waiting for further information. The decision for Suspect's soul apparently hangs in the balance. Keep ya posted.

Friday, February 27, 2009

My fellow short-timers are vanishing one by one, off to the mythical holy ground of civilian life, and new guys appear out of thin air to replace them. I meander from appointment to appointment, hoop to hoop, goose chase to goose chase with extreme pleasure.

Any time away from the unit is good time. The more hours that a uniform doesn't touch my body, the better. The thick medical records, the ETS to-do list, and a sense of bastardly determination are all that I need. Swimming upstream, clawing and fighting my way out, it's a very long process. I'm ready to be gone NOW.

Erase any evidence that I was ever here, turn in all my gear, wage paperwork war and take signatures as prisoners, make no mistake: this is a battle and it IS personal.

Load up the car with whatever material possessions I bother to collect while I Tasmanian Devil my way out, punch the gas and fly out the gate for the final time as nothing but a blur, rear view mirror detached and laying on the floor because we won't need it.

Heaps of uniforms piled in an ominous hill that we'll make reek of combustible fluids and chuck a cigar at the center and dance around the flames, temporarily insane from the rush of freedom I could never be prepared for.

If I were to be fired from a shitty job, I would hug my boss. Fired? That's it? That works out for BOTH OF US!



I gave more than I ever imagined I would, and no hard feelings as long as you just leave me alone and let me leave in peace. Great run, eh? Later homes.

No, now. Ticking down the days is making me lose my mind. Waiting for appointments and paperwork, waiting, always waiting, when it's right fucking there! I can see it, just down there a bit further, that's ETS, man! Fucking move it! Come on, faster faster faster, let's go, give me the leave form dammit, are my orders here yet? Why the fuck not?

Look at that guy, he got out, hasn't shaved in a week! That's so cool! I bet he doesn't even get up until two in the afternoon.

I heard an NCO tell a dude that he couldn't hear him because the dude wasn't standing at parade rest. I thought, yeah you can, that's stupid. All those little weird things that the army does that you learn to accept as being normal, you start to see that no, they aren't. Not at all. We're saluting because Reveille is playing? Why do we even salute? We aren't knights, we don't have to lift visors to show that we're recognizable dudes. Whatever, sure, I'll do it as long as it keeps them off my ass.

But this is good, my ability to think for myself is regenerating, like a starfish that was cleaved in half.

What's that man? You only have three weeks left? Fuck you man (envious verbal assault). But I'm not that far behind, am I? Sunday, that's the 1st of the month, another down. A month and a half as long as everything goes well, and for the love of GOD, please let it.

I need this with every ounce of my being. I have a FEVERISH NEED, ravenous hunger, vampiric compulsion, cannibalistic disregard for everyone else, this is for me, this is mine, GIVE IT TO ME. Dangling on a string above me and I'm reaching for it like a cat, leaping and swiping and growing more irritated. I'm going to get out, I am, really, that's what happens right? I am believing this, even though how can it be real? Guys don't get out, they just disappear, right? Ol' Suspect here sure will. Lost somewhere on the highway between Fort Lewis and Tacoma, trailing like ashes behind me, fading and collapsing on itself like a dying star, replaced with a dormant but wiser version of who I might have been at one point, and god bless and pass the gravy.

I'm going to get out, good God, yes I am. I've never been more sure of anything.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You Can't Make It Outside The Army

Suspect has been accepted into a certain university and will soon begin preparations to learn and be a normal person and shit.

Suck it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Eyes Dried Open

This brief dispatch comes to you after a 24 hour shift at a desk, watching my hair grow and thinking about all the things I could have been doing instead. Like painting a shitty picture in a park that wouldn't resemble anything other than a truck-stop bathroom stall. The splatters, I mean.

As far as that incident, I haven't heard anything new, probably never really will. Guess it didn't happen in our neck of the woods. But fuck, man. Death? I still try to wrap my mind around it sometimes. Spent a good portion of the last 24 hours thinking about what it must've felt like for my friends, when they got hit. Did they even know what hit them, or was it some instant confusion, blurry and discombobulated?

Thought about that Robin Williams movie, "What Dreams May Come". Caught myself wondering if I was going to run into those dudes again on some other plane. Shook the hand of a guy that was leaving for a different duty station, didn't even know him that well, and I actually thought to myself, "See you on the other side."

Almost feels like I'm dying too. Quietly, with a schedule, and appointments. But I don't think it'll work that way. Suspect won't just die when I'm out. I'm a collector, I pick things up.

Well that's ok.





With those long hours and too much time to talk, I found myself kind of wishing I was still back there, when our missions were all about kicking ass. But chill, man, that's over. Just mellow out and move forward to the next station.

I lucked out man, wow.

I still think about death a lot sometimes though. Just try to understand it. Gory images in my mind don't disturb me so much as they just scientifically show what went wrong and what isn't working the way it's supposed to (or where it's supposed to). I seriously don't think that the human mind can grasp the concept of no longer existing, in terms of the mind itself, not the brain, but the sequence of events that causes what we call the "mind". That's all we really are, I guess you could say that's our soul too, maybe?

You can't fully grasp NOT existing anymore.

Me, yeah I'm afraid of dying. I get nervous around strangers. I don't like it when they start conversations with me anymore, don't know if I can trust them, I WANT to, but I still haven't even figured life out, let alone taken a good bite out of it. A well-meaning stranger makes small-talk and I'm just a 16 year old kid in jeans and a sweatshirt again, my gun is missing, and my number is up at any moment.

Despite all that, I flushed all my klonopin down the toilet. Antegrade amnesia or something like that, you forget entire days. Like they never happened. Like you were benched and someone else played for you. Substituted and didn't even get to watch. Cryogenically frozen. But expected to know where things are. Fucking pills, man.




No one is trying to shoot me or blow me up now, I'm pretty sure. So these days, I'm mainly just afraid of car accidents. I don't know, I guess now, part of the animal in me is awake, and it's fully focused on survivalism. Crazy.



Well I've got some z's to catch, I'll join your world again in a few hours, and we'll mingle on the roads as total strangers, sneaking glances at each other in our mirrors, hoping you don't catch us singing along to our music. Stop at the designated signs and lights, take turns, shiny happy people, all of us. You going your way, me going my way. I'm passing hundreds of you going in the opposite direction and each whoosh is another story I'll probably never know. Outside my window, right now, more stories than you can count. If my eyelids didn't weigh eighty pounds each, I'd probably go out right now and look for an old person to listen to for a while.

But not righnow...ahm*hhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwnn* justreadyforbed.

Join you all in the Great Mosh in a while. Much love,
The Goddamn Suspect

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This Is Us? Really?

My roommate, my Tokyo partner in crime and self-discovery and altogether life-experience amazement was the one to fill me in on the pitifully brief details.

Two girls. Underage apparently. One dead on arrival, the other unresponsive. In some barracks on Fort Lewis. I was an hour drive away from all of this, and I still don't even know what day it happened on. I just showed up and there it was.

Too young to even BE in the fucking barracks. And whose barracks was it? We sure as shit don't know. I pray it wasn't the barracks of our brigade, not for our sake, but for theirs. No one deserves to live their final moments in these pisspoor laughable prison-like containment cells, regardless of the great company they may have had.

Shit, maybe it was one hell of a night, and they were into more than they could handle, chemicals to deviate and alter the mind, really Jackson Pollack the night with reckless abandon. I don't know the specifics. All I know is that it ended with someone's daughter dead, and the other supposedly incoherent. I'm not chasing the story. I'm not that guy. I don't have a future as a journalist because of things like this. Respect for privacy. Not that I'm even privy to confidential information. But if it were to happen to anyone I knew, on either side of the equation, you can bet your Patriot Acted-ass that you'd hear no more.

You haven't heard the specifics of the things that make me clench my teeth into cracked shards, so why would I talk about strangers?

Here's my take, ladies and gents. The Army is the fucking Jungle. This is where your sons and daughters go to become corrupted and disturbed and sent to foreign countries to either cause and bear witness to death, or fuck like stoned test bunnies. No one is innocent in a third world country and you would be fucking insane to think that a Porta-Shitter is a place that your kid would not fuck someone. After a while, you can't even SMELL shit. This species prevailed for a reason. We'll fuck ANYWHERE. If we had to, we'd fuck on the wreckage of Princess Di's car and JFK Jr's plane, and if we had the gear we'd dive down to the ruins of the Titanic to bone there harder than Leonadro DiCaprio ever could.

But two underage girls? I'm as baffled as the rest of you. I just shrug and think "drugs". As far as underage, I'm not surprised. Fuck, in my own hometown, some of the Airmen cruise our high school girls for tail. At the time, I thought the dudes that lived off post, I mean off BASE, threw decent parties. In retrospect, oh my fucking GOD are they laming it out.

I'm getting off subject. On an issue I've specifically chosen not to follow too closely, I've already learned more than I wanted to. Someone's daughter DIED here, and another was in critical condition. But they'll still call us soldiers, everyone but those families. See if they put those yellow magnets on their cars now. You remember me going off about how we are so different from the commercial bullshit? A repressed fraternity governed under psychotic inhumane rules that we no shit EAGERLY AGREED TO (myself included).

I talked to a cab driver on post about this, and these fellows are more connected than I, they are veterans AND they listen to the drunken drivel of wretched hyenas like me. This person said that even the POST COMMANDER would suffer because of this.

Now normally, I am all for fucking The Man right back for my reparations, wanting to trade a good friend for an opportunity-seeker, switch 'em out real quick and let the asshole take an explosion or gunshot wound, but this, this is out of control.

You can NOT punish a POST COMMANDER for the actions of one or two soldiers. At the platoon or company level, its bullshit, because they cannot control their soldiers 24/7, but if heads roll at the platoon and company and BATTALION AND BRIGADE AND DIVISION AND POST LEVEL, then my distaste for bureaucracy DOES have some level of merit, because that is wrong. WRONG.

"Heads will roll" is a statement that a yes-man issues to a superior to appease him, fuck the underlings to keep things on an even keel. That's bullshit. Down to the level of CQ (for those of military knowledge; the rest of you, just fucking google it), CQ should receive no more than a slap on the hand. No loss of rank or pay, maybe some bullshit extra duty to be a public spectacle as to how serious this is, but for fuck's sake, why compromise the career of an upcoming E5 or E4 because of something they had little control over.

CQ CANNOT watch over every room all 24 hours. And that's the small picture. You have CQ for one company. Now zoom out to one battalion. You quadruple the responsibility. Zoom out to brigade, you MORE than quadruple responsibility again. Zoom out some more, to EVERYTHING ON YOUR INSTALLATION, EVERYTHING THAT HAS THE NAME "FORT LEWIS" STAMPED TO IT. You want to punish this one man because of one infraction out of THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF SOLDIERS? A man who has built his life with this Army, who has seen this shit come and go time and time again, you want to bleed HIM out because of it?

I'm obviously no fan of the Army or its system and I want to depart from it as soon as humanly possible, but there is no fucking way I want to see a lifetime soldier who has become a General Officer be punished for the fuckup of some barracks-dwelling soldier.

Common fucking sense. You don't have to fuck the whole chain. Even the CQ had limited power. The individual(s) responsible can be dealt with. As for the rest, fuck, BRIEF them and leave it at that. Keep it out of the records. They can't walk the halls of the barracks every fucking night to try to prevent every possible travesty. Yes, they are accountable for all of us, but you cannot send the shitstorm that high when the incident comes from such a low level.

I don't even know what unit or brigade this happened it, but I'll still be sickened, offended, and enraged if it goes beyond the lowest level that it has to.

As for the families of the girls, there is not a single thing I can say to excuse what happened, I can't even successfully apologize on the guilty party(ies) behalf. But how would you handle this in a civilian event? You wouldn't attack the entire extended family. The parents, probably, but not everyone.

That's all I have to say about it. I am honestly hurt that it happened here, I want to be able to relate to every last beating heart in uniform on this post, but that's not the case. Just don't cast us all in the fire. Most of us, even the angst-ridden hate-filled short-timers are ok people.

I promise you all, we are ok people. Some of us may need some adjusting to say the least, but we are good and honest people. We have been waging a bullshit war for each other, for your sons and daughters, while the world forgets about Afghanistan, which was actually justified.

But then there was Baghdad, for some reason.
JCS
TMcF
VG

And Baqubah
CN
MF
JL

Not counting the wounded, I can still find and shake their hands. Or the guys who had near misses. I don't even know everyone who did. Minor wounds. Next to death but what-the-fuck-saved-me moments.

SF.
RK.
JS.
JA.
DC.
DB.
FW.
CM.
RW.
JM.
Sny.
JH.
PL.
CPT H
CPT M
CPT M

From here I lose track. I haven't even scratched the surface. It's not that I've forgotten anywone, it's that after a while, you get flooded with how many people got fucked up during this weird ordeal we signed up with psychotic eagerness.

No one is punishing high ranking officers, and it isn't because of the contract we signed. Don't crucify someone who had nothing to do with something horrible.

Fuck You Very Much, World,

The Goddamn Suspect

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Call It A Night

The closer I get to getting out, the more I find myself thinking about why I'm getting out. And what I'll do if they call me back.

The way I look at getting out, it's like choosing NOT to bet on a fresh hand at the table. Like swallowing your pride, standing up and walking away from the table, ego bruised, cutting the losses and just walking. Just praying that the pit boss doesn't walk up behind me and give me one of those taps on the shoulder to let me know that I owe them more.

Nah, don't think I could do it again. Not after experiencing first-hand how restrained we are. Powerless. Armed to the teeth but tied up with red tape. Blindfolded, one arm tied behind the back. Lit cigarette dangling out of the mouth, waiting for the firing squad or the big angry bull. Blind and paranoid and expected to smile and wave and win over strangers that don't give a fuck about you, doing the bidding of powerful men who also don't give a fuck about you.

We fight someone else's fight...why don't these decision makers just have good ol' fashion duels?

I think about it plenty. I have a metric fuckton of respect for the people that choose to stay in. Not me though. I don't want to roll the dice anymore. Russian roulette for combat pay, and nowadays the odds aren't so bad, right? I don't care if it's for million dollar paychecks, because if it's you that ends up on the wrong end of the revolver, no amount of money is going to help you.

"We'll see you in six months," they say. They love to say that lately. And don't forget to mention the economy. Make us afraid to live outside the army. I'll choose a trash fire before I take another crack at this gig. No hard feelings, I'm just done. Rather not spin the wheel again and hit Bankrupt, Pat. No Deal. This is a good place to stop, Regis.

I'm not going to be a memory while the rest of the world rots anyway. Call me selfish, call me a coward, tell me I have no heart, whatever. But no one is going to put words in my mouth at my funeral, saying that I believed in the cause. If I were to be killed in another deployment, I wouldn't have any inspiring things to impart on everyone else, that's the shit that higher ups make up to try to make it all seem better, seem like there was some sort of purpose.

Everything happens for a reason, but sometimes the reason isn't that good, sometimes it doesn't make any sense at all. But all of this is going to continue anyway, and more people will die. Why would I choose to be a part of it? I didn't listen just like the new guys don't listen. You touch the plate after the waiter tells you it's hot, that kind of thing. Learn the hard way. Got it, got it WELL. I'm not even taking a political stance or harboring desires to soapbox my opinions to cause some sort of change. Just a personal decision.

That's it for me, dealer. I'm out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How To ETS Out Of The Army

Finding the answers and guidance to this is a bitch, moreso than one would expect. There isn't much information on the net, and what IS on there is tends to be written by gung-ho re-up types.

So here's the deal, this is what you future Short-Timers must do. For everyone else, this is boring jargon.

Keep all your hand receipts so you don't get fucked out of money. If you loaned a buddy gear, get that shit back. I haven't turned my shit into CIF yet, and I might be paying for a few things. They say its cheaper to pay the cost at CIF than it is to buy a replacement. Either way, keep track of your shit.

180 days from your ETS date, you can get your initial ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program) brief. This is the beginning. You can choose to continue the ACAP process for one of two reasons:

1) It helps you line up a job as well as write a half-decent resume and how to bullshit your way into saying that the one week that you "were in charge" of your peers is leadership experience, and now you are qualified to bravely lead the mail room or the McGrill.

2) It gets you out of work. Just make sure you have an appointment slip. There's a lot of useful information at these sessions, and you get to wear civilian clothes.

You can get an optional medical exam through Tricare. Your "Final Physical" is a pen and paper session with your PA, and sadly, no, it does not mean you don't have to do PT anymore. But if your unit seems to believe that it does, keep your mouth shut and enjoy shamming.

Keep sick call slips, profiles, get injuries documented, all that. Fuck that Army mentality, "sick call ranger" bullshit. They prattle on about how great the healthcare system is, USE THE MOTHERFUCKER. You might catch shit for "riding a profile" but what is your unit going to do for you two years from now? You're already forgotten, flipping burgers or roofing or marrying your boyfriend or god knows what. The reason I stress the medical issue is...

DISABILITY CLAIM. If you even remotely have a chance to get disability, take it. I sure as hell am. I paid dearly for this enlistment. Extra money for it? Put that shit in my hand. Or, be "hard" and whatnot, and enjoy your aches and pains and inability to do the things you used to, and have nothing to show for it. And for fuck's sake, if you're seeing headshrinkers thanks to your adventures with this army, you know where I'm going with this. Take advantage or don't. It isn't a moral judgment, it's common sense.




90 days out you'll be able to go to an ETS briefing. You bring the packet that the ACAP people gave you at the first brief you had there. At this ETS brief, they will take that packet and wonder why you don't have a shitload of other forms. You'll get those as you can. On to that.

There's a mandatory one-on-one with a reserve career counselor. You have to go. Keep the paper he/she gives you that proves you went. You need that, a copy of your ERB (update it, fuckstick, and make sure your deployment(s) are on there), your life insurance forms, the first three pages of your contract (don't worry, no matter the case, you can get them), and your leave form if you're taking terminal leave.

Getting this leave packet done can be a pain in the ass. During this entire process, keep hitting up your S1 and training room desk dudes. No one is going to walk you through this, you gotta chase that chicken and choke it yourself.

There's much more to it, like having your shit sent back home to mom and dad, and let them worry about where to store it for two months while you dick off, not to mention cleaning and turning in your gear, and jumping through a billion hoops and God help you if you don't have the necessary paperwork or else you gotta come back later, son.

And they told me I was an idiot for starting early. There have and will be snags and hangups. Do it as soon as possible. And never, EVER forget the Short-Timers Code of Conduct. (Stand up at a halfassed version of Attention as you read, nay, SHOUT these sacred words)





THE SHORT-TIMER’S CODE OF CONDUCT

Anonymous

Article I.
I am an American short-timer. I serve in the forces into which I was so carelessly drafted/enlisted/recalled/stop-lossed. I am prepared to leave them at the time so designated by the Department of the Army, or sooner if at all possible.

Article II.
I will never extend or re-enlist of my own free will. If I am in command, I will never allow my fellow short-timers to fraternize with the lifers.

Article III.
If I am called before the Commanding Officer, I will continue to resist his re-enlistment talks by all means available. I will make every effort to escape.

Article IV.
If I should become the victim of an involuntary extension, I will keep the faith with my fellow short-timers. If I am the shortest, I will assume command; if not, I will obey the shortest.

Article V.
When questioned, should I become the object of a re-enlistment interview, I am bound to give only my name, rank, service number, date of birth and date I am due to be discharged.

Article VI.
I will never forget that I am an American short-timer, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which have made carefree, happy civilians out of thousands of short-timers before me.





Fuck yeah.

I'm somewhere in the whole process, so there are things I still haven't learned the hard way. Any of you ETS-successful readers out there, feel free to add to this guide. This needs to be completed, edited, perfected, and widely distributed so that no short-timer go unseperated.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It All Compounds

They can't stop adding new things. Elbow pads, the new requirement. More to follow I'm sure.

Yeah yeah, Suspect, quit your bitching, you're out soon.

Well what about the brand new faces I'm seeing every week? Should I not care that THEY are getting fucked?

Reveille. TAPS. Taps just played. Last time I heard Taps? Burying friends. It isn't much of a Good Night to me. So Sorry, big army. I get it,there are all these traditions and whatnot. But has anyone ever stopped to think about how old and archaic some of these are? We generally don't shit in holes in the gound (civilian-wise). We don't die of dysentery on the Oregon Trail.

Tradition: a HUGE part of the army. You march in formation, well, cuz that's how they used to do it before the Indians/Native Americans showed them how to hit and run and kick some serious ass.

Tradition.

Are you serious? REALLY? WE ARE HIRED FUCKING KILLERS. Dress us up pretty with shiny new ACUs? Really? Stand tall, look good, oughta be in Hollywood? Well Hollywood is full of shit, and sometimes, so are we. Get rid of this goddamn image of us being stellar robots.

We piss, we moan, our senior leadership does the same goddamn thing behind closed doors and we all know it, and welcome to the army and all that.

TRADITION. Sorry, but it's archaic, done, erased, over, and out. We don't fight in rans and columns anymore. We use our brains. Tradition....

It's bullshit. Posturing. Parading. Lemme add a new paragraph and headbutt the capslock.

WE ARE NOT DIPLOMATS, MY PREVIOUS COMMANDER MADE THAT CLEAR. WE EXIST TO STAND GUARD, CLOSE WIDTH, AND KILL. WE ARE LEGALLY SANCTIONED MURDERERS. WHY DO YOU WANT US TO LOOK PRETTY? DO YOU NOT REALIZE HOW FAKE AND FULL OF SHIT ALL OF THIS IS?

Pristine uniform, crisp salute, lookin' good, ready for a camera. FUCK YOU. We get sent out to kill and die. You want us to look good and move with crisp discipline? You must have lost your fucking mind. Lemme speak for the rest of us.

We are 17-20+ years old. We don't care about your career. If we're new, we aren't going to fully listen to the old-timers cuz goddammit we're nineteen and we know it all. But furthermore, we do NOT care about whether or not YOU make Major or Lieutenant Colonel or what have you. You're just a face in the crowd to us. The only difference is that when YOU are around, we have to be fake and full of shit. Go along to get along.

We're getting new guys almost every week it seems. Phasing us short-timers out with cherries. And that's great. But these cherries, I WANT them to know certain things. I WANT them to know NOT to let people get within 30 meter of you. I want them to NOT be a picture on the wall with KIA (date) stamped on it.

This whole ordeal? It's a goddamn mess, and sometimes, so am I. Now and then I gotta let a few screws loose. Like one of my readers told me before: it never goes away. Well fine. I used up PLENTY of my nine lives if not eight already. I hear you loud and clear buddy.

Know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna contradict myself, and use one of those damn army cliches, and DRIVE THE FUCK ON.






LESS THAN 80 DAYS, BITCHES. Remind me to start uploading some pics. Thanks to all of you for reading this. Sometimes I use a keyboard to bleed some heavy stuff out, and I haven't gotten to the stuff that really eats me, but so far I think this works.

And everyone who comments, critiques, shares opinions, offers insight, kicks me in he ass, it all means the world to me.





Now gimme a nice, loud, thunderous smartass HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAHHHHH. (If you're just appeasing me, you did it right.)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On Being Short

Two digit countdown.

Anger, irritation, why me? I'm short, motherfucker!

Til it hit me, that is. We were doing a roadmarch, for conditioning, in the morning before the sun came up. I'm looking at the helmet of the guy in front of me, and I almost bring my rifle up to the ready as someone else doing PT runs in our direction. It all came back to me for a second with surreality. Not that Hollywood type shit, I still knew where I was and what we were doing, but good God man, I could FEEL it.

We explained the subtler points of footmarching while deployed to our new guy, and I glanced around. My friends in full kit. Me, my gear, the trees behind chain link, the long roads, the carbon copy buildings and gargantuan motor pools. Strykers passing. Gathering around at 4:30 PM wondering when we're going to get off work, shooting the shit, jawjacking and fucking off.

It's all going to be over soon.

Yeah, it's miserable here for a person like me, but if I don't take some good from this, then what a waste. It's not the gung-ho shit, it's not trying to look good in a uniform, its not standing tall in formation and bursting with pride that I'm expected to have. It's harassing new guys, exchanging insults with the dudes I've spent too much time around (competitively at that). Finding creative ways to accuse each other of being raging homosexuals. Being young and uncivilized and forced to live the shitty life with the other guys.

Everyone talks about how they'll get together after they get out, make all these plans, maybe run a business together, but we all secretly know that it's never going to happen. Two digits worth of days left of this life.

Short.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kinda Funny Eh?

There's pages upon pages, resources, pamphlets and porno mags all designed to help you get into the Army. Over-eager recruiters and MEPS stations in convenient locations, like they're competing with Starbucks. Oh yeah, it's easy as all hell to get in, shore 'nuff.

And if you REEEEEEAALLY want to get out? Truth is, you can. But they got you by the balls with all sorts of punishment because maybe, just maybe, you don't want to be subjugated anymore.

"Hey man, you raised your hand, you made that oath!"

If I was really defending this country from enemies foreign and domestic, I'd be kicking down the doors of prime time game show/reality TV series locales and CLAYMORE CLAYMORE CLAYMORE and expending every last round I had, filling vapid celebrities with holes, then torching the entire place like one big Vietnamese hooch. Oh yeah, the flames would singe the sky and the letters HOLLYWOOD would turn blacker than the hearts of the soulless fucks that are ok with letting us get collectively dumber.

But that isn't the case. Still, do you want to join the Army? It's fucking EASY-PEASY, pal. They'll hold your hand every step of the way, even after you swear in and sign up, and they suddenly aren't so nice about it.

Yeah, getting in is pretty simple. But what about getting out?

How many pamphlets do you see laying around that explain how to go about wrapping your enlistment up? Your time is coming to a close, right? Sure, they got a program that helps you write resumes and maybe even look for jobs, great, but hold the fucking phone:

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GO ABOUT GETTING OUT, PERIOD?

What form? Take it where? What do I need? How do I get it? Where do I go? Who do I talk to? What am I supposed to be doing? How do I go about taking care of myself for once?

Bitch, you don't. You fucking gear up and get ready to go do some more TRAINING! Training for what? Live-fire exercises so I can scan your groceries?

"You're still drawing a paycheck, you should still--"

THEN STOP THE FUCKING PAY. Point me to the VA so I can start letting them know just how fucked and medicated I am these days. Ask your chain of command? THEY RE-ENLISTED! They don't know how to get out! Even if they do, there is some strange deal where people in the Army don't LIKE to see other soldiers get out. The Lifers? They seem to hate that shit. God forbid you move on with your life and maybe, just MAYBE start treating it like it really is your own life.

So what next? Training? Sigh, see ya there sarge.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Someday Bloody Someday

I vow to myself and to all future employers that I will never again put myself in a position like this. You will not play inane mindgames with me. There will be a purpose to what I'm doing, no matter how menial, or I will not do it.

One day, I will have the freedom to tell you to go fuck yourself, and quit, and find a better job. And I will.

I'd rather pump gas. I'd rather panhandle in a Stormtrooper costume, rather wash windshields at busy intersections. I'll flip your burgers if I have to. Park your car, deliver your pizza, substitute teach your kids' gym class, do temp work, answer phones, take notes, sort mail, count sheep, buy and trade souls, fund Starbucks, wear a tie, stress over finals, become a monk, be a door greeter, anything.

"Technically, you don't have the right to wear civilian clothes. That's a priveledge."

All it takes is one sentence spoken to really fuck things up. Oh, I'll keep playing your game, but only for a little longer. In fact, I'll even start participating, nay, COMPETING. I'll make myself a greased pig, fucking TRY and catch me.

No, I won't go reserve or national guard. I did exactly what I said I would do, did it, DONE. I'll take my chances with the inactive reserve, kthanks.

Less than a hundred days, let the games begin.