The Biggest Mistake Was Joining

On the Monday before Family Day I went into my senior drill sergeant’s office with my battle buddy to have a heart to heart discussion.  Last Thursday during the final inspection he asked if any of us regretted joining the military. 

I regret joining the military. For the last nine weeks I’ve gotten nothing but battle fucked by platoon mates. And when I go home I am going back to unemployment. After hearing this my drill sergeant agrees with me that joining the National Guard will not help me find full time employment and it may hurt me because employers will be reluctant to hire someone who will need large blocks of time off for training.

He advised the following: I should go home and ask my recruiter [or in my case the training/readiness NCO non-commissioned officer since my recruiter was deployed to Afghanistan] how I can get out of my officer candidate contract and go enlisted active duty. If I can not get out of the contract, I should go to OCS (officer candidate school) and intentionally flunk out. At which point the Army will stick me in an enlisted job.

If I go enlisted active duty he advised that I should pick something such as special forces because I speak two dialects of Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin). He reminded me that the military needs candidates who are able to speak the East Asian and Middle Eastern languages such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Urdu, Pashto and Arabic. Most people who are able to speak Urdu, Pashto or Arabic can not get the security clearance to be in the military. And most people who speak Mandarin and Cantonese don’t join the military. So the military is left with teaching these languages to new recruits. Either way they will never be fluent and even if they do become fluent they will never sound native such as myself since I grew up speaking these languages.

I am reminded about how difficult Special Forces is in terms of physical training, something I may not be able to get through. He said not to worry, my physical fitness is reasonable good and if I can get my score up 20-30 points I should be fine. “The PT can be worked on, however the language speaking ability can not be. Special Forces breaks everybody in terms of physical fitness.” If I don’t go Special Forces he advised something in the medical or technical field.

The point my drill sergeant was trying to get across was that if I commission as a National Guard officer I will stay in the National Guard. I will never get into the active Army. He cited the executive officer (XO) of our company who is in the National Guard. This first-lieutenant (1LT) served only a year-long contract for active duty but is headed right back to the Guard. The Army is in a tough time of downsizing and my drill sergeant doubts things will ever turn in my favor.

He said since I am going home after basic combat training I’ll have some time to think about it. ( a lot of time to think about it) Joining the National Guard isn’t a bad thing. He is confident that I’ll graduate as an officer. I might even get into the branch I want (such as aviation or military intelligence) Just keep in mind that if I choose the National Guard I’ll be unemployed for at least a few years while I go through training.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Biggest Mistake Was Joining

  1. Dick,

    I think the drill sergeant’s remarks about your language abilities were a “hint, hint, wink, wink” nudge towards the real potential you have if you continue to serve. Your talents would largely be wasted as a general infantry person.

    When the government is looking for “qualified” candidates for special forces, counter-intelligence, or elite law enforcement work, they don’t necessarily advertise at a career fair with posters inviting new recruits.

    You have to jump through a series of “trust” hoops, training, security clearances, and skills tests. You’ll be watched every step of the way. If you demonstrate the right skills and capabilities, other leadership beyond a drill sergeant will sit down with you and talk about “possibilities”. They will never send you directly to Langley out of National Guard training.

    As for being “battlefucked” by your comrades, that’s part of the experience. It obviously sucks to volunteer for military service and then get your balls busted by everyone around you, including those who have no authority over you other than they are acting like the camp tough guys.

    That type of schoolyard sh*t is all most of your colleagues know. The military operates on orders and authority. If you decide to move forward and pursue the higher ranks, that crap will disappear almost overnight. Although low ranking soldiers often push each other around, anytime someone with a few stripes on their arms walks by, they must come to immediate attention unless otherwise instructed.

    Low ranking idiots who think they can tease or screw with anyone above them will not only be embarrassed in front of their entire company, but also reprimanded, face a court martial, or get dishonorably discharged; a tough thing to explain when they attempt to get a civilian job.

    Good Luck,

    Grover Mannings

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