This lengthy post is not just for my friends or family that still wonder why I went back to civilian life. This is for the general public, including policymakers and those think tanks that advise them. For example, the RAND Corporation. They did recently send me something in the mail about a military workplace survey. They even included a form letter from the Army Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno, to prove that the letter was legit. That was actually pretty thoughtful for someone or something associated with the Federal government. I was both surprised and impressed. In addition to doing that online survey, I hope I can send them a link to this blog post as well. This post will detail my feelings far better than any online survey ever could.
So, why did I leave the Army?...
Essentially, I discovered first hand that nearly EVERYTHING that I've ever been told about the military was a damned lie. While everyone and their mother (including family members and friends who have served in other service branches like the Navy and Air Force) led me to believe that it was a real-life equivalent to the Justice League of America, I sadly discovered that soldiers are really just as flawed and Human as everyone else. Sometimes, much more so...
At least one friend who's also a veteran has expressed concerns that this post might be a bad idea. He's afraid that I might make our beloved Republic look bad and give others a chance to laugh at us. You need not worry, buddy. Those countries already are laughing at us because of many of these talking points. The Feds, the DoD and the News Media have already seen to that long ago. However, the moment one of those countries gets into some trouble, you can bet your last dollar that the USA are gonna be the people they call to come save their collective asses. That's the problem with being the world's de-facto Policeman: everyone makes fun of you for eating so many donuts but, just wait until they're being menaced by some criminal!!!
All joking aside, none of these talking points are likely to be put into any specific order. That way, none of them are likely to be considered more important than the others by my readers... except perhaps the last one. That one is somewhat personal and not something for which I can directly blame Uncle Sam. Make no mistake, though. They are all very important.
Also, since I will be a civilian again by the time this is posted (I have been working on this one for a long time), I will speak very freely and very harshly where appropriate. You have been warned...
0.) Where is the Patriotism?
It was exceedingly rare to ever hear a fellow service-member express their patriotism in any way. Why? If there is anyone who should be quite patriotic then, shouldn't it be someone who risks their life for the Republic? I know that many of my fellow Service-members do care but, it's just not expressed. Why not? Is it just too hard to separate politics from patriotism for you? That I can understand. Some folks have that problem.
I don't express many feelings because of a neurological condition making it difficult (and often quite impossible) for me to do so. However, I'm pretty sure most other Service-members DON'T have Asperger's Syndrome. So, Whisky Tango Foxtrot? You don't have to be wearing a uniform to salute the flag, ya know...
There also seemed to be a lot of voter disenfranchisement in the ranks of my last unit. Many of them didn't bother voting in the 2012 election because they thought their absentee ballots wouldn't be counted. I don't know how their home states do things but mine, Louisiana, takes that kind of thing VERY seriously and counts every single one. So, I certainly did my part to try to keep Obama from getting re-elected. Too bad that effort wasn't successful...
1.) The job was affecting my emotional/mental/spiritual health and (at one time) caused extreme, quite unnecessary, stress. Being assigned to some pretty shitty units did not help these matters...
I had a LOT of bad assignments during my time. They were the kind of assignments that would have made some soldiers ask to deploy just to escape the boredom and the BULLSHIT. I wish I was joking or engaging in hyperbole but, I'm not. The two assignments that I had in the operational force included...
A.) A small ghetto-fied shithole in the Korean countryside near the DMZ that is apparently legendary for being a ghetto-fied shithole.
All I had to do was mention the name 'Camp Stanley' to some of my NCO's in the next unit and they all became quite shocked and disgusted. No wonder you hate the Army! is the response I'd normally get. If only they really knew... Discipline at Stanley was a joke. The base was overrun with soldiers acting like they were in a gang instead of professionals in the art of war. Alcoholism and Marital Infidelity were rampant. I knew at least 2 people there whose marriages were ruined by that place. The 'Leadership' were often *quite* untrustworthy and incompetent. I didn't trust anyone very much, including what few people that I called my friends. And I was right to be that paranoid since a few of them did end up (proverbially) stabbing me in the back.
Hearing things like I'd rather be getting shot at in Afghanistan! was also quite common, even from people who have deployed and been shot at before. I think that base is as close to Hell on Earth as I will ever see. Thank goodness that unit is now reassigned and that base was shut down. (Or, so I have been told...)
B.) A small medical base 45 minutes from Washington DC named Fort Detrick... which also happens to be the U.S. Army's official testing facility for biological and chemical weapons.
Before Nixon outlawed them in 1969, that base is also where the Federal government used to make those horrific weapons too. The soil and water sources on that base are so contaminated that it would be condemned and cordoned off from Human use, if not for it being an Army base. It is commonly believed that Fort Detrick is the reason why the town of Frederick, MD has the highest cancer rates of any place in the United States. I would not be surprised if that was true. If I ever do get Cancer, it will probably be because of living there for two and a half years.
Much of what I just said about Camp Stanley also applied to my unit at Detrick, with a few notable exceptions. There was no gang activity that I knew of at Detrick or any rampant marital infidelity. Ft. Detrick seemed to swap those two societal ills for rampant drug use in the barracks. (There will be more about that later.) And while people complained about wanting to be in Afghanistan at Camp Stanley, many people at Detrick actually did volunteer and get deployed for several months at a time. Not only were they doing it for experience or promotion points but, they wanted a 'change in scenery' pretty badly too. How horrible does garrison life have to be to make otherwise sane and rational people actually want to go to war?
Worst of all is that Ft. Detrick was merely the place where soldiers in my unit lived. We usually worked at another government installation about 26 miles away. The Feds didn't give any of us any kind of increase in our BAH or BAS (or 'Basic Allowance for Housing' and 'Basic Allowance for Sustenance') to help with the large expenditures on gas, either.
As one can imagine, these places were mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining in the extreme. They were somewhat better than TRADOC with regard to me getting enough privacy and alone time to mentally recharge. (That's very important to people with Asperger's Syndrome.) However, I shouldn't have to recharge as much as I did with those two places. I'd be spending almost all of my free time alone, just so I could de-stress and, during the weekends, catch up on lost sleep. And so many of my friends and co-workers thought I was just being unsociable... Not quite, folks.
Is it any wonder that I became disillusioned with the whole thing and decided to return to civilian life?
2.) PT might be good for you but, it wasn't all that good for me...
Not everyone is going to be a good runner, especially if you're an Aspergian with ZERO athletic ability...
Anyway, when I would attempt to run, my vision became very blurred. It would become distorted to the point where I couldn't see anything but a light or dark blur, depending on time of day and weather conditions. It also caused my hearing to become greatly amplified. An 'inside voice' will sound like a bullhorn right in my ear. And keep in mind that these runs are usually part of a unit function like PT tests and 'fun runs' on holidays like the Army's birthday. You have people yelling at you to supposedly 'offer feedback and encouragement' and the unit calling off cadences. Just thinking about it now makes me feel a profound sense of dread.
I have heard a lot of talk about people on this 'Autism Spectrum' having what's called a 'Sensory Overload' in times of stress. Is that why I couldn't see or hear shit while trying my best (and often failing miserably) to pass a PT test? Also, that phrase 'fun run' has always puzzled me. Since when was running supposed to be fun?
Then, there's the fact that damned near every part of my body will start feeling intense pain during the 2-mile run part of a PT test. That is saying a lot since my sensitivity to pain is significantly less than many other people under almost any other circumstances... I did get checked out for any medical issues causing this but, none were found. All the doctors did find were that my calf muscles were unusually tight. They said it was because of my unusual form/running style. I think it's a combination of that and having to run so much over the last few years, often up to 5 miles per day. Having no real athletic ability to speak of probably didn't make any positive contributions to that endeavor, either. Oh well... At least I'm not living with a hernia...
3.) There was no way and nowhere to advance...
The promotion points for my 'Military Occupational Specialty' or MOS, 25P, were always sky-high while I was in uniform. How am I supposed to get 768 points just to make E-5? Even if I went to war and slaughtered a hundred hajjis with my bare hands, I still wouldn't have had enough points!
Even worse, the Army has been on the proverbial fence about eliminating that MOS for years now. That would make all of us in MOS 25P transition to either a 25S or a 94E, based on whether we were trained for the strategic or tactical side of MOS 25P. I had the strategic training so, all that would change is that I'd be operating/maintaining a few satellite dishes instead of a Microwave Radio tower. Doesn't that sound just so exciting and peachy?
Saddest of all, many of the people I met in the MOS after entering the Operational Force originally went into MOS 25P because their previous MOS had points that were sky-high and 25P didn't. They were chasing the rank by re-classing to a MOS that was under-strength, only to get burned by some bureaucrat messing with the points system again. What a load of crap...
4.) The job wasn’t letting me grow my current skills or develop particularly useful new ones.
Speaking of my MOS... I still have very little idea of what exactly a 25P does to this day. During my nearly 5 years in uniform, I did work related to that MOS for maybe 6 or 7 weeks. Sound incredulous? Well, allow me to explain...
The Army has the bad habit of treating their personnel as a 'living tool' of sorts. If they need an extra pair of hands somewhere, they'll send you there. That happened to me at my last unit. They needed extra bodies for the cable installation section and grabbed a number of 25P people (Usually referred to as 'Papas' since Papa represents the letter P in the phonetic alphabet) and sent us down there. I don't believe we were needed that badly since we'd normally sit around all day waiting for orders from our supervisors that never came. It would be months before we actually did ANYTHING at all.
Only in the employ of the Federal Government (or as a leader in a corrupt Labor Union) can one find themselves sitting around and doing nothing while still getting paid. I hated every minute of it too. I want to feel useful, dammit! If I wanted to collect a government check for sitting on my ass, I'd apply for welfare.
Finally, 'doing Lima work' as cable installation is usually called since that MOS would be 25L, did provide a few new skills. However, they will probably never be used. Cable installation in the civilian world means either doing construction work of some kind or working for the local cable TV company. I'm not going anywhere near those fields. Gee, thanks Uncle Sam. That was a really big help to my future career...
5.) I mentally checked out LONG before they finally got around to giving me my walking papers... Checking back in was out of the question too.
There isn't much reason to continue giving a shit when you know it doesn't matter anymore. One NCO from my last unit once told me that people in the unit thought that I was on a permanent profile or physically crippled somehow. I don't know where they got that idea but, it certainly did tell me a lot about the mindset of my co-workers. It showed that many didn't care enough to even ask what was really going on and just jumped to illogical conclusions. This makes me happy that I didn't stay in touch with many of them...
6.) Like anyone else, I don't like living with chronic uncertainty...
In other words, they were CONSTANTLY telling/threatening me that they were going to chapter me for whatever... After a while, I just said 'then fucking do it already!' Who would want to stay in a workplace environment that is that damned emotionally toxic? Speaking of which...
7.) Absolutely TOXIC Leadership...
There are entirely too many (supposed) Soldiers acting more like self-serving Bureaucrats that are just looking to protect their own ass. Sadly, many of them have also become NCO's. The Army has started to tackle this issue but, I'm afraid that in my case it's already far too little and too late. I have a great many examples of these sorry assholes posing as leaders. However, there are two that stick out more than any other. Here are their stories...
First, we have the douche-nozzle posing as an E-6 that was my platoon sergeant when I first got to Korea. He was overwhelmed in the job for a number of reasons, some not under his control. For example, He was trying to do the job of 3 NCO's at once since the platoon was under-staffed in that area.
He was also a control freak with a terrible case of OCD. He wouldn't let anyone do anything with any kind of paperwork unless he went through it all and signed off. Even when he was allowed to by regulations, he would never delegate anything to any of his subordinates. He was so anal-retentive that he would personally account for every single last screwdriver. He was afraid that Uncle Sam would make him pay out of pocket if anything disappeared. I think he was being a little too paranoid in that regard.
Worst of all, he had no people skills whatsoever. The fact that I could tell that before I learned that I had Asperger's Syndrome should impress upon all of you just what kind of a shithead that I had for a leader. I don't know how I managed to resist the temptation of making like Jack the Ripper with this asshole. The PX sold all kinds of KA-BAR and tactical fighting knives at reasonable prices, Camp Stanley had PLENTY of places to hide bodies and numerous people would have lined up to help me destroy the evidence... Yeah, I hated this bureaucrat posing as a soldier. A LOT. And I was not alone in that hatred, either. I am convinced to this day that the only things that saved him was the UCMJ and my sense of morality insisting that terminating him would be wrong.
I can think of so many examples of his dumbassery but, there's one that sticks out in my mind the most: the phone roster. For you civilians, 'phone roster' in this context means a list of all the names and contact info for everyone in a platoon. This way, everyone can be contacted when there's an alert or just a simple change in the time/place of the morning formation. Despite begging me to get a cell phone (and even going with me to some store selling cheap pre-paid phones off base to make sure I had one), he NEVER called me to make me aware of these changes. Because of that, I would end up being late to formations. Naturally, the First Sergeant, who was also quite unpleasant for various other unrelated reasons, would be blaming me instead of my idiot excuse for a platoon sergeant.
So, that idiot platoon sergeant of mine probably got his ass reamed by my rather unhappy First Sergeant of that time (and he had good reason to be so pissed at life, too) and came up with a 'brilliant' idea. He had me get up really early one morning and meet him in the prescribed PT uniform at the company HQ for 0515. (That's 5:15 AM to you civilians.)
Here's how it went...
*The dumbass of an E-6 walks up to the company HQ, where I have been waiting for a few minutes. He's a few minutes late.*
Dumbass E-6: Oh, so you can make it on time to formations...
Me: Yes, when I actually know where they are. That's the damned problem! You people begged me to get this crappy prepaid phone and then never bother calling me! How am I supposed to know where to go if y'all don't call me?
Dumbass E-6: Oh, well I guess that's partially my fault...
So, long story short, I was made to look like an incompetent shitbag because of this incompetent shitbag not being willing or able to make a lousy phone call. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
There were rumors about him suffering some TBI (shorthand for 'Traumatic Brain Injury') in a rollover accident he had in Iraq but, I didn't care. There was no hard evidence supporting that claim. There wouldn't be either since he never went to get his head checked out. He was afraid the Army would medically discharge him if he was found to have a TBI. I guess I can't fault him for that too much since he had a wife and 4 kids to feed but, your health still needs to come first, dude. There are plenty of folks out there who look to hire disabled veterans. It's not like leaving the Army would have been the end of the world. NOT helping yourself means that you can't possibly help anyone else, let alone provide them with good leadership.
Another bad example of Leadership that I will use for this online rant was a former First Sergeant of mine at Fort Detrick. On a day in June of 2012, I went to his office with my Platoon Sergeant to explain Asperger's Syndrome to him. I was getting the impression that he didn't like me very much and I didn't want him to get the wrong idea. That turned out to be a waste of time. His mind was made up long before I walked through the door. All that meeting did was convince me that the Army was no longer the right place for me.
I barely managed to get a single word into the conversation. He just spent a half hour throwing PT scores in my face and trying to shame me. He also spoke down to me as if I was some retarded child, which is ironic since that's how I normally thought of many Soldiers that I met over the years. He then continued with calling me a 'lazy soldier.' That was also quite ironic since I never saw that self-serving bureaucrat do even one push-up in all the time that I knew him. And finally, he finished it off by saying 'I wish I had the paperwork to put you out of the Army in 30 days.' After that, I lost all interest in continuing on with the military.
That miserable shitbag cocksucker should consider himself fortunate that I didn't go straight to the Inspector General and file a complaint that very day. How does an asshole like that get to be in charge of anything in any organization? I got a little PROTIP for you there guy:
NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT BREEDS ONLY NEGATIVE RESULTS.
That worthless ass-clown is the straw that broke the camel's back. I was still on the fence about whether or not I wanted to stay in the Army or not. After that day, Uncle Sam couldn't have paid me enough to want to keep wearing the uniform. A million dollars a day tax-free for life, a new Corvette for every day of the year and Kate Upton's hand in marriage wouldn't have changed my mind.
So much for that whole 'encourage and inspire' thing that NCO's are supposed to do. I don't know who's cock he sucked to get that position but, I hope it was worth it for him. I also hope he had the good sense to wipe off his chin when he was done.
And for those who think I am being too harsh, well, you're wrong. And to those embarrassing excuses for NCO's that made me feel disillusioned, I'll let Mr. Spock explain how you fucked up...
Remember, the Army didn't ask you to be Human. They asked you to be a Sergeant. Get with the program or get the fuck out of the Service.
8.) They are looking to fire people left and right anyway...
Since the President ordered a draw-down of forces (which is EXCEPTIONALLY UNWISE considering the threats to Human Freedom out there right now), the Army is now looking for reasons to get rid of ANYONE they can for any reason possible... And they don't give a shit if they mess up your whole life in the process. You can be junior-enlisted, an NCO, an Officer or even a decorated war hero struggling with PTSD. They won't care. THE BIG GREEN WEENIE DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE IN WHO IT CHOOSES TO MOLEST AND RAPE.
I can't say that my time in service was all bad all the time but, it still feels like a lot of wasted years. Sitting around with nothing to do all day for months on end will do that to a man. Having to live with seemingly everyone all the way up to the POTUS himself trying desperately to eliminate my job did not do ANYTHING to help motivate me, either. I don't knowingly waste my effort on something that proves to be trivial and fruitless.
Speaking of those fools in DC, I have only one thing to say to them on this matter:
If you want good soldiers, you have to make us actually want to be part of the Army. Constantly threatening to draw down the force doesn't help to do that, Dumbass!
9.) As I mentioned earlier, the current 'leadership' (for lack of better term) in Washington thinks of Soldiers as being nothing but a tool. As many of my NCO's have said these last few years, that is the wrong fucking answer.
At this point, I'd be genuinely surprised if those incompetent bastards in Washington could even properly wipe their own asses... I didn't sign up to be part of a group of disposable heroes. I signed up to have a job that actually mattered and would help me make a difference in the world. That never happened and it never would have as long as I stayed in the Service. I am both saddened and disgusted to have to make that kind of admission. It breaks my heart. As Mr. Worf would say, they are treacherous, deceitful and without Honor. And that leads us to...
10.) The military (or, more accurately, Congress) is setting people up for failure...
One way or another, no matter where you are and what you do, Uncle Sam finds a way to screw you over.
Crap like this article here, if it is indeed true (and since I've heard of similar reports before, I'm guessing this kind of stuff is much more prevalent than what people generally know), is just another of MANY good reasons why I got out of the uniform.
How can I do the job and defend the Republic from its enemies if I have to worry about the people who are supposed to be on my side?
Who is going to be willing to fight and kill for this country if they have to worry about Congress sending them to jail for doing their fucking job?!
Let me tell ya, Congress. Your job performance in this area, like so many others these days, has been absolutely...
And yes, the sarcasm is strong with this one too.
11.) I'm not proud of the uniform anymore...
When I first shipped off to Fort Knox for Basic Training, I thought the ACU's were awesome. Now, I think of them as a digital print clown suit that doesn't provide adequate camouflage in ANY environment... except maybe a 16-Bit Super NES game utilizing Mode 7 graphics to create that blocky psuedo-3D effect that made the graphics in F-Zero so beautiful.
Not at all surprising that my nerdy ass went into the Signal Regiment, huh?
12.) The Service is also apparently filled with a bunch of rapist bastards... And prostitution rings aren't uncommon, either.
Remember when I said soldiers stationed to Camp Stanley had a problem with marital infidelity? Well, that's just the tip of a truly horrific and tragic proverbial iceberg.
It's well known to historians that wherever soldiers go, whores tend to follow. There will always be those broads digging for gold chasing after what they perceive as guaranteed paychecks given to soldiers. They come in many forms: strippers, single mamas looking for substitute baby-daddies, the soldier's high school sweetheart, strippers who joined the Army to get away from that life and other female soldiers too. (More on that later...)
However, when female soldiers are actually working as whores in the barracks and being pimped out by NCO's that are (supposedly) sexual-assault prevention officers then, well, all I can say is...
I am quite glad that, as far as I know, there were no incidents of prostitution on any of the bases to which I was assigned. However, forced prostitution and rape are nothing new to the service and it has lately gotten way out of control. In early 2013, the Secretary of Defense ordered that ALL uniformed service personnel would watch an independent documentary called 'The Invisible War.' You can see the trailer for it on YouTube here. The trailer alone is pretty shocking and disturbing to anyone with a conscience. It's not easy to watch. Having to watch the whole movie along with almost everyone in my entire unit was an experience that I truly wish that I could forget.
I had never been more disturbed to the very core of my soul or more disgusted at any other time that I could remember. I wanted to puke. I wanted to cry. I wanted to grab the officers in the room and demand to know how and why any of their ilk could let this happen. And since I had long since lost my respect for the Army as a whole by that point, I wanted to tear the U.S. Army tape off of my ACU jacket and toss it in my unit commander's face. Even if there had been a chance to somehow convince me to stick it out and give the Army another chance before seeing that movie, there certainly wouldn't be afterwards. Like my then platoon sergeant SSG Mortan said in the discussion we had following the movie, I don't want a fucking rapist for a co-worker! Yes, those were his exact words.
My words were stronger. In the trailer (if you were brave enough to follow that hyperlink), you may remember a former sailor talking about how her commanding officer was told of her rape and thought it was a joke since that was the third report of a rape in his unit that week. Even if it was a joke, that guy should have taken it pretty seriously because rape is not a laughing matter. It is a serious and disgusting crime that should be harshly punished.
So, what was my brutally honest comment on that Lieutenant Commander thinking he was the victim of a joke?
'There were three reports of rape in his unit in a single week and he thinks it's a joke?! That fucking dumbass should have been removed for cause!!!' - Lord Publius
For you civilians, 'Removed for cause' means that you as a commanding officer have fucked up so bad that the Pentagon had you removed from command for the good of the unit/ship/base/whatever. If this happens to you as an officer, you might as well start looking for a new line of work. Your career is over. If the Pentagon didn't forcibly remove you from the Service after that, you'll just want to resign your commission. All you'll ever do, if you're lucky, is a lot of pointless paperwork as some Flag Officer's personal secretary.
Of course, that movie probably hit harder for me than it did for many of my co-workers. I have a female battle buddy from my time in AIT at Fort Gordon (the only unit I had and have ever liked) who was attacked while she was deployed in Iraq. I don't want to even think of how she very nearly got raped by some shitbag in her unit, let alone write a transcription of her story. So, I'll let her tell the story for herself in a Youtube video she posted a while back called 'Vae Victus'. It's about 20 minutes long and it's something you need to watch.
Ever since then, she's been hellbent on getting Congress to do something to right this terrible wrong. She has personally contacted members of Congress and urged them to pass a bill called the 'Military Justice Improvement Act' or MJIA for short. Ordinarily, I am quite opposed to passing new laws but, in this case, I think something like that bill should be passed. That bill would, among other things, take certain UCMJ issues (especially rape) out of a commanding officer's hands and place them into the hands of a special prosecutor from JAG. Considering just how 'out to lunch' that the military has been on this issue for decades, it seems that there isn't any other choice. The Pentagon has refused to fix this problem. If the brass won't act, Congress must. And yes, it is likely to be a world class clusterfuck but, is there another viable option? I sure would like to find one...
Also, I think I should mention something that she didn't mention in the video. To this day, she is still terrified that her would-be attacker will somehow find her and sleeps with a loaded shotgun next to her bed every night. How would any of you like to live your lives that way?
By now, it should be obvious that I will never allow my future children (especially any future daughters) to go anywhere near the Service. Of all the very good reasons I could name to keep them away from the uniform, this issue is #1 by far.
Rape is not a laughing matter.
It is a serious and disgusting crime that should be harshly punished.
It is a serious and disgusting crime that should be harshly punished.
13.) And then there's the soldiers with drug problems...
This section is going to be the most difficult for me to write. I have known so many people in my life who have struggled with drug addictions. Part of joining the Army was to get away from that kind of crap. Sadly for me, that proved to be a fool's errand.
While I was at Ft. Detrick, sometime around Halloween of 2012 (I think), something interesting happened. In this context, 'interesting' is not a good thing at all. While at work, I noticed that everyone was being unusually quiet and very somber. It was like somebody had died. I had also noticed that all of the other junior-enlisted guys in my platoon were being escorted EVERYWHERE by the NCO's in the platoon. They were also not allowed to use the phone or any computers. That was pretty strange...
I asked them what was going on but, the only response I'd get was 'Publius, you really don't want to know.' I hate when people say shit like that because all it does is make me even more curious. Then, my brain goes into 'detective/007-style super spy mode' and I start investigating on my own. In this instance, just like any other time I went into detective mode, the answers to my questions were things I really wished that I had never discovered. It turned out that four of these guys were busted via urinalysis for smoking Spice, the artificial marijuana substitute. Even more surprising than this development was that the fifth one being escorted around was the guy who ratted them all out to the Chain of Command.
Let's let that sink in for a moment. There were six junior-enlisted guys in the platoon at that time. Four were just busted for drugs. One ratted out the other four. Then, there was me, totally unaware that anything like this was taking place right under my nose. Also, I was never even questioned about this incident by anyone in the unit. (Or the CID folks who investigated what would come to be called 'The Spice Girls Incident.') To say I was shocked by this turn of events would be a pretty severe understatement. This was really scary stuff... Like an episode of The Twilight Zone or something...
Part of the reason that I enlisted was to give myself a whole new life that was better than the one I left behind in civilian life. One negative part of my civilian life was working in construction on and off for 12 years. The contracting business in New Orleans at that time had a lot of labor problems. Unlike Texas, we didn't have any (probably) illegal immigrants from Mexico who would work like dogs for low wages. We had junkies (usually Crackheads) that only showed up when they needed money and often put in only minimal effort. I wanted to get as far away from that as possible. Then, after this 'Spice Girls' crap took place, I had an unpleasant epiphany: I left the civilian world to get away from doing construction with junkies only to end up in yet another kind of construction job I didn't even want (i.e. Cable Installation) with yet another drug-addled motley crew. There are no words in any language, written or spoken, that I know of that can possibly describe just how unbelievably pissed off I had become.
Of course, as the running theme of this blog post goes, the story only gets worse. The 4 guys who got busted had their permissions/clearances/whatever revoked and were essentially banished to work details on post until the Army figured out how bad they wanted to screw them over. As if their lives weren't already ruined enough, they just let these guys sit there in Limbo for about a year and a half awaiting news of their discharge/court martial/whatever. I have no idea why it took so long. Normally, these matters are the proverbial 'open and shut' case.
The big green weenie strikes again!!!
So, what happened to the four of them? One of them went to the brig for a few days and got busted down to E-1. What happened to him beyond that is unknown to me. Two others were given an 'Other than Honorable' discharge and escorted off the base only a few days before I left for my terminal leave in April of 2014. Both of them had a back-up plan in life but, being tossed out of the Army under those circumstances will haunt them forever. I don't envy them or their futures. The fourth one, however, I feel no sympathy for at all. He was a PV2 that did nothing but screw up in life. He was the guy that was the ring leader of that gang of fools. He also never did anything but whine and complain about everything so, naturally, I found him to be an annoyance. Being fat, stupid and smelling like a walking latrine is certainly no way to go through life, guy. He was also still on post, raking leaves and awaiting court martial, when I left Detrick on April 29th. I've also been told by a few anonymous sources that he'll be convicted easily, dishonorably discharged and sent to Leavenworth after the trial. Great... That's all America needed... Yet another waste of our tax dollars...
Oddly enough though, what pissed me off about this incident the most wasn't any of the 4 Spice Girls at all. It was the 5th guy, the guy who ratted them all out. Yet more anonymous sources of mine gave me the skinny on this little dipshit too. Numerous rumors and interpretations of events surrounded this kid but, one theme was always repeated: despite insisting that he was 'only doing the right thing' according to the regulations, he was not just an innocent bystander.
I don't know what happened since I wasn't there when these guys were all smoking fake weed and/or very foolishly letting the dipshit know about their activities. What I do know is that Dipshit violated the Omerta and ratted on his friends. The Sicilian in me does NOT respect a Rat-Fuck... Especially when he told me everything he knew about the 'Spice Girls Incident' after I asked him about it one night. That's right, Dipshit told me everything he knew about the incident and tried to make himself look good in the story.
We were both invited to a party to celebrate the promotion of one of our favorite NCO's in the unit. I was drinking that night so, he volunteered to drive since he didn't want to drink. That was a good decision on his part. The bad decision on his part was telling me the whole story about the Spice Girls on the way back to post later that night. The proper response to my inquiries about the Spice Girls incident was 'Hey, CID was involved. I don't think I should say anything on this one...' And what did he do? That's right. He sang like a bird and told me everything he knew. And there I was, sitting in the passenger seat of a 2011 Ford Fiesta with a bottle of Jägermeister in my hand, listening intently to this all-too-trusting dope sing like a stool pigeon. I think it's safe to say that he wouldn't last very long if the UCMJ wasn't there to protect him. It's bad enough that you're a little snitch but, to go around bragging about it was just really fucking stupid, Dipshit.
Of course, after that, I made it a point to not ever socialize with this guy outside of work and unit functions again. It was abundantly obvious that he couldn't keep his mouth shut about someone else's personal business. I wasn't going to be fool enough to let him get a chance to talk about mine with the rest of the world.
Don't get me wrong here. Dipshit isn't a terrible person. He just makes very poor decisions that negatively affect him and ruins other people's lives too. You can't let someone like that hang around you. That is the real reason everyone in the unit socially ostracized him. It wasn't because he ratted out a bunch of drug addicts who would get busted sooner or later anyway. It was because people didn't think they could trust him.
That, and he was very obnoxious too. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to beat the shit out of this little punk. The UCMJ (and my hope that he would one day grow up to not be such a dumbass) are the only things that saved him. Of course, me and a battle buddy of mine still made it a point to psychologically torture this little shit for the grief he caused everyone. I can't tell you how many times I made him LOSE THE GAME or something equally insidious.
Wherever you are now Dipshit (most likely in Korea where all the other Papas are sent after an assignment in CONUS), PLEASE start using your brain for something other than just filling the otherwise empty space in your skull. We already have enough dumbasses in the world. We don't need more. Also, thanks for being so bad with money that you got desperate enough to sell your PS3 to me for $60. I am enjoying it very much. It plays great games, all of my DVD & Blu-Ray discs and a shit-ton of porno that I downloaded from the internet onto a USB flash drive. It's downright FAP-tastic!!! :P
14.) Being Junior-enlisted is essentially a form of wage slavery. Also, the Government screws up paperwork so bad that they will sometimes forget that they owe you certain things like student loan repayments. Yes, you read that right.
For those unfamiliar with the term, 'wage slavery' is a situation where a worker's livelihood depends on their wages, especially if the dependence is total and immediate. Junior-enlisted soldiers don't get paid much of ANYTHING at all. My yearly take-home pay (not including enlistment bonuses or student loan repayments) also never came up to even $30,000 for ANY year of my service. In fact, had I been required to find my own place and not been living in government-provided barracks, I would have eventually had to apply for food stamps and welfare. This would have been especially true when I was stationed at Fort Detrick. The costs of living in Maryland are pretty damned high. There actually was a PV2 in my unit at Detrick who was getting food stamps from the state of Maryland. And yes, it was the same PV2 who was in the middle of that whole 'Spice Girls' incident. Every aspect of that poor boy's life was just one long and truly sad country song...
Even worse, the Education Incentives Branch (that's the DoD office that is supposed to deal with student loan repayments and education grants for active duty service-members looking to go to college while in uniform) screwed up on my paperwork for student loan repayment. That was the #1 reason why I enlisted in the first place. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?! I had creditors hounding my ass for two years while I was in TRADOC and at my first duty station overseas in Korea. I tried everything I knew how to (and could) do to get the Army to wake up and take care of that situation but, alas, I was basically ignored. NONE of my NCO's had any idea what to do or how to advise me in these matters, either. You'd think that they would have at least been told in one of the leadership courses you need to become an NCO to direct soldiers with that issue to the proper authorities like JAG, S-1 or whatever but, nnnoooooo...
So, I went to JAG as soon as I got to Detrick... and had to wait for an appointment that was scheduled about two months later since they couldn't get me in sooner. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!
Eventually, I did get to talk to a JAG lawyer. When I explained the situation to him, he just rolled his eyes, picked up the phone and started making calls. He had to deal with this kind of situation before. In fact, it happened so often that he knew exactly who to call and that the person I corresponded with at Education Incentives via e-mail while in Korea was just a damned bot instead of a real person. Just take a moment to let that sink in before going further.
So, what happened after the lawyer started making calls? Well, within one hour the Education Incentives people magically found my paperwork. It was misplaced in the folder of a soldier who had the same name as me. They had honestly believed that all of my repayments had been made. (Yeah right...) Anyway, after a series of phone calls, e-mails and certified letters containing important documents between me and the woman who ran the Education Incentives branch, the checks started being sent to Sallie Mae, et al. within two weeks. That's pretty fast for government work! I was both grateful and truly impressed with the speed and efficiency demonstrated.
Still though, can you believe that shit? All that grief that I suffered just because some bureaucrat misplaced a few pieces of paper?! If that doesn't convince you that relying on the government for anything is a bad idea, then you are beyond redemption and should move your communist ass to Red China where you belong. No one's life and livelihood should be at the mercy of a misfiled piece of paper.
And just to slap my face with the big green weenie that much harder, $17,000 out of the $57,000 that Education Incentives paid out was taken by the IRS in the form of income taxes for that year. I had at least $52,000 worth of student loans (I can't remember the exact number anymore) and Education Incentives provided more than what was needed to repay them all. I could have been free from that horrible debt. Then, those cocksuckers at the IRS robbed my ass of that chance to be free. I am still paying the last of those loans today.
Uncle Sam, you are a fucking bastard. I look forward to the day when the American people have finally said 'ENOUGH!!!' and go looking for your ass with the rifles that the Second Amendment protects. If there was anyone who ever deserved to be lynched, then it's you. Fuck you in the hole on the tip of your dick with a fucking cactus, you miserable son of a whore!
15.) The Army wants everyone in uniform to aspire to leadership. I discovered, after a considerable amount of time, that I didn't want to be a leader in that organization. That means that I needed to go ASAP.
There are two reasons for this...
First, I do have plenty of friends in uniform but, I doubt any of them would want me as their leader. I don't believe it would have been completely impossible for me to be a good NCO but, it would have been more trouble than it was worth. Despite massive improvement in that area over the years, I'm still not what the Army would call 'Leadership' material. The inherent lack of good social skills that all Aspies struggle with keeps us from being able to relate to people easily... That doesn't help you much when you're charged with leading people into battle.
Since I have suffered at the hands of more than a few idiots who should NOT have been wearing stripes, I just utterly refuse to become part of that problem. I will not, purposely or unwittingly, emulate a fucking Shitbag Cocksucker posing as an NCO in any way. Leaders should be pissing excellence at all times. There is never any room for failure. Failure just leads to what was previously discussed in Talking Point #7.
Second, many of the junior-enlisted soldiers themselves are not the people that I want to have around me, let alone be responsible for to the unit commander. I've had all manner of thugs, shitbags, dumbasses and drug addicts for co-workers these last few years... and it will be quite a while before the Army can get rid of them all. The picture below helps to put things into perspective...
Would you want to be the NCO responsible for these dumbasses? I sure don't. People who don't respect themselves will not respect anyone or anything else. That includes the uniform and all the good things it's supposed to represent. I'd be spending more time as a babysitter and surrogate parent than as a leader of men. If I'm going to have to act like a parent, I'd rather just have my own children. And that leads us to...
LAST.) Last but not least, this job would have NEVER helped me to accomplish one of my most important life goals: Marriage and Family.
In fact, it would be a major obstacle to that goal. The military doesn't like it when soldiers get married or have kids. (Or as they call it on the paperwork, 'Dependents'...) That increases their costs for everything (Healthcare, housing, printing I.D. Cards, beneficiaries for death benefits, et al.) and makes it more difficult for them to deploy you or send you to certain overseas posts.
Even worse, the kinds of females that normally chase after 'men in uniform' are just a bunch of gold-diggers looking for a guy with a guaranteed paycheck. I want a WIFE, not a whore.
There are exceptions to the rule of course, but, they are the exception. The rule is that guys in uniform are being preyed upon by less-than-honorable (and often mentally deranged) women who are thinking more about their own interests than finding love. I have enough issues with Romance. I don't need to deal with that shit too.
And just to add a cherry on top of that shit sundae, a lot of them let themselves go and get fat on you. I guess they're thinking that a guy who's always getting moved around/deployed is very lonely. And since he's never in one place for long and unlikely to settle down any roots anywhere, less likely to divorce them. Think again, chicka...
No wonder soldiers have such high divorce rates...
If you think that there won't be a LOT of resentment when...
A.) Your man is forced to stay in a ridiculous level of physical fitness to keep his job...
B.) Is probably also the sole breadwinner and...
C.) you're just sittin' on the couch getting fat...
...then, you're wrong. Most guys, military or not, will never put up with doing all the work in the relationship. Even if he did, his woman probably wouldn't respect him, anyway. That's one of the major reasons why so many Army marriages end in divorce. That, and infidelity... And money issues... And wives becoming scared of husbands that come home from war with PTSD... Basically, it's a shitstorm no matter what you do. I have seen these divorces happen more often than I would care to mention. It's pretty sad.
And that very well maybe the reason why I've heard several NCO's say 'If the Army wanted you to have a wife they would have issued you one.'
As for marrying a female soldier... Well, that's out of the question too. And for many of the same reasons. As Drill Sergeant Cole said on that day back in Basic Training... "Stay the Hell away from Army Pussy, Privates! That's not the one you want!"
Drill Sergeant Cole further explained that 'they were all sluts that could easily see how much you make by looking up the military pay tables online.' He and one of my platoon's Drill Sergeants, Drill Sergeant Nilles, strongly urged us to avoid them. They weren't kidding, either. I have run into a few military females who act that way. That being said, I'm glad that I've also met a lot of Army females who were quite honorable in this matter. Otherwise, I'd probably have even less faith in Humanity's goodness than I did in BCT or my first assignment in Korea.
Finally, there is a long-standing unofficial practice of soldiers getting married just so they can move out of the barracks. Hell, I had one particularly abrasive asshole for an NCO in my last unit make jokes about that to me many times. (Why did I not file a complaint against that Shitbag with his superiors or the Inspector General? Sometimes, I'm just too damned nice to people...)
Anyway, I can understand the desire to get out of what is basically a studio apartment with a bathroom/kitchenette that you might be sharing with a total stranger/potential asshole. However, that is getting married for all the wrong reasons.
There are doubtless going to be a few fellow Soldiers who read this and think I'm just bitching or was lazy. To them I have one thing to say:
Blow it out of your fourth point of contact and make sure your head comes out of there too, guy!!!
It's probably been up there too damned long anyway. You are allowing the Federal Government to manipulate you and treat you the same way an abusive ASSHOLE treats their victimized spouse or girlfriend. I like to think that you are all MUCH better than that since you're all risking your lives for strangers you'll never meet. Respect starts with the man you see in the mirror. If you don't treat that person with respect, no one else will, either.
And to further explain it to the frighteningly large numbers of you in uniform who have not been blessed with a lot of education...
What should have been the greatest thing I have ever done with my life, turned into one of the worst. Looking back on it now, I feel like what I imagine someone might feel when they lose their faith in God. The 'church' in this case became so corrupt that I could no longer even try to convince myself that staying in uniform was the right thing to do. By continuing to wear that uniform, I was part of an incredibly amoral organization that seemed to have no interest in correcting its many mistakes or absolving its many sins. How can someone ask me to continue breaking my back (not to mention breaking my poor, badly abused balls) to be part of something so unholy and so evil? How can I be asked by anyone to continue doing something that made me feel so ashamed?
My life as it was reminded me of the last few lines in the lyrics of an old Black Sabbath song called 'Sabbath Bloody Sabbath'...
Where can you run to?
What more can you do?
No more tomorrow...
Life is killing you!
Dreams turn to nightmares!
Heaven turns to Hell!
Burned out confusion...
Nothing more to tell...
What more can you do?
No more tomorrow...
Life is killing you!
Dreams turn to nightmares!
Heaven turns to Hell!
Burned out confusion...
Nothing more to tell...
I was truly horrified on the day in 2012 when I was listening to that song and suddenly realized the lyrics were describing my life at the time. Black Sabbath is always the musical equivalent of a really terrifying horror movie but, that moment was a real world-class mind fuck. When life starts looking and sounding like that, and you're just killing yourself to live, then you need to make some serious changes. And that is why I left the Army.
'Five Really Good Reasons To Quit Your Job'
by Kristi Hedges (Forbes.com)
Published on 10 Oct 2013
'Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior'
by Mayo Clinic staff (MayoClinic.com)
by HappyHeresy (http://happyheresy.blogspot.com)
Published on 6 Aug 2013
Fort Hood Sex Assault Prevention Officer Recruited Female Soldiers In Prostitution Ring: Testimony
Accessed on 5 June 2014
"Army Takes On Its Own Toxic Leaders" (NPR.com)
by Daniel Zwerdling
Retrieved on 7 Jan 2014
'Other than Honorable' (Series of articles about Soldiers being mistreated at Fort Carson)
by Dave Phillips
The Colorado Springs Gazette
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
'Other than Honorable' Part 1 - Disposable by Dave Phillips
The Colorado Springs Gazette
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
'Other than Honorable' Part 2 - Left Behind by Dave Phillips
The Colorado Springs Gazette
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
'Other than Honorable' Part 3 - Locked Away by Dave Phillips
The Colorado Springs Gazette
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
F-Zero - Wikipedia.com
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
Mode 7 - Wikipedia.com
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
Army 1LT Clint Lorance: Sentenced to Prison for Protecting His Unit - Theblacksphere.net
Retriveved on 29 Dec 2013
Trailer for 'The Invisible War' - YouTube.com
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
Iron Maiden - Wasted Years
Retrieved on 6 July 2014
MetallicA - Disposable Heroes - YouTube.com
Retrieved on 12 Oct 2013
Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - YouTube.com
Retrieved on 7 June 2014