A World Without Fences
I have a GT score of 128. I received an ARCOM for my service in Iraq. I have served in a variety of different positions, from engineering reconnaissance specialist to tax advisor, and during that time my counselings have been outstanding. I have no disciplinary actions on my record. So by most counts, though I may be a poor fit for my MOS, I am, for the most part, an exemplary soldier.
So why shouldn't the Army want to aid me in my career.
I spent most of my deployment searching for ways to change my career path within the Army. I find my duty specialty to be dull and unfulfilling, but all the same I wanted to spend a little more time in the service. So for months, I was in and out of Retention offices, trying to see what they could get me. Time and time again, I was told that either schools were closed out, that there weren't enough openings, or that I lacked the sufficient security clearances.
So when, after 15 months of trying, I place a call to the Retention offices in Heidelberg, do I expect to hear more of the same? Stupidly, I didn't.
The latest: I am in an MOS listed as critically understrength. The Army calls this a "Priority Two." I have been advised to reclass into everything from Military Intelligence to Legal to Journalism. All of the above are listed as "Priority Four." This means that, as long as I am in the Army, I will be forced to accept a job that is below my qualifications.
A great soldier, with a promising future. And the Army would rather see me leave than give me what I want.
I worked for the better part of two years, for this.
The end of my enlistment is approaching. My current unit is planning to rebase stateside. My leadership, seeing that I am so close to my ETS, is planning to cancel my orders for movement, so that I can be attached to a unit remaining behind, long enough for me to finish out and clear from Germany. After three years, 15 months of which were spent in a war zone, I have finally come to see that the Army life is a path that I am no longer willing to follow. I have a wife. I have a degree that needs finished. I have a book that I want to see published. I have a whole series of goals for my life, and the Army has just informed me, in no uncertain terms, that it isn't willing to help me achieve them.
It's hard to describe the feelings of bitterness I now harbor. What was all of this for? I endured loneliness, depression, spiritual conflict, and marital strain, and after all that I have borne in silence, the Army can only tell me that they want to give me more of the same.
It took me nearly two years to see the clear path, but finally Fate has laid her cards upon the table. Though my last six months will now be a mess of paperwork, planning, and endless phone calls, I feel strangely relieved. I feel lighter now, knowing that in a year's time, I will be out of this uniform, out of this way of life, back to making a real living.
The way laid before is a difficult one, make no mistake. There will be sacrifices. But for the first time in years, I can look forward to a world where my choices are my own, where I can look outside and not have my view obstructed by walls or gates. My way is the way of self-determination, my world is to be a world without fences.
And with all of the hardship that such a world promises to bring, I nevertheless feel exuberant.
My time with the Army is ending. I'm going home.