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Archive for July 14th, 2007

I want to serve in the 397th

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

From the comments section of Cephalopod Surprise

“Someone send me this and stated that it was a must read, therapy “it kept me rolling”. Guess what, troche personally I saw nothing funny about this. Waht I saw was what appeared to be a lazy PFC (E3) that somehow joined or was drafted, pharmacy if he is that old, and fought the system the whole time he was there. He forgot that some of those “unemployable wives of military officers”, and by the way they also had the NCO and Enlisted wives clubs, served a very good purpose, and it seem that understood the “spirit of corps” that these functions whould bring, plus funds to help those in need.
Yes, I was a Private but did make a career of it and retired as an Officer, but through the struggles that military life always seem to bring, with the long separations plus two tours in Vietnam, I am gratefull that those wives did take the time to do thigs like this, as it help relaxed and at times help financialy. I know, we were one of those families that sought and were help.
As the old saying goes, the military is what you make of it, and takes special families to adopt. I am proud that I was able to served my country without complaining.”

I normally let comments like this go, but I am feeling crotchety today.

Tony, I pity any soldier that had the misfortune of serving under you. Your comment paints a picture of the very worst sort of Army leader.

To your credit, I re-read my post. And it does look like I am speaking about ALL family support groups, as opposed to the ones I have served with. I cannot accurately comment on every FSG in the service as I was only ever around PSYOP from 1996-2002. But I never once saw an enlisted family member involved. And it was a rare day that I even saw one treat enlisted as human beings. Most of the wives seemed to think that they possessed the same rank as their spouse, and that enlisted were there to serve them. As far as service to the families of soldiers, I never saw that as well. I always suspected that FSG was like the Army Emergency Relief. In theory it was an organization designed to take care of all the Army personnel. In reality it was just there for the officers.

In my post, I described mandatory fun activities, and mandatory volunteering. Since you mainly described me as the culprit I can only assume you endorse these practices.

Mandatory fun is an insult to the men and women who volunteer to protect this country. In this country children do not enlist. Adults do. As an adult I am quite capable of determining how I want to enjoy my free time without being led around to planned activities like an infant with a play date. I’m not saying that group activities don’t serve a purpose. I’m not even saying that all group activities need to be training related. I’m saying that if you have to order people to show up to it, at least have the decency to not pretend that it is for their enjoyment.

Next issue: the whole mandatory volunteering. Let’s just call it what it is: blackmailing soldiers into following orders that their chain of command cannot legally give. You talk about me bucking the system, yet how should this act be interpreted?

If my NCOIC was legally allowed to order me to purchase a pie why didn’t he just order me to acquire one? Because I wasn’t issued any damn pie, because we weren’t assigned to the 235th Combat Pastry Division.

This is, in my opinion, bullying of the worst sort: taking deliberate advantage of those that you have a solemn duty to protect.

And it doesn’t say much about you as a human being or a military leader that you find such behavior acceptable.

Next the issue of “Lazy PFC … fought the system the whole time he was there.”

You’re reading an awful lot into this one army story. And you know what assuming does right? Just because I made my own fun on occasion, in no way means I didn’t do my job, to a high degree of professionalism. I’m proud of the fact that I served, what I did when I was there, and the people that I served with. I received no punishment more severe than a counseling statement the whole time I was in, and have been commended many times on taking care of the soldiers I worked with.

That’s not to say that I never fought the system. Sometimes the system is wrong and needs to be fought. Sometimes questionable leaders do questionable things to the troops, and thus they need to be questioned. But this isn’t even really about one of those times.

In this instant I was issued a questionable order, and I followed it. I just followed it in a way that brought me and my fellow soldiers more joy than the chain of command intended.

Most soldiers have a sense of humor. Hell, remember the LTC who took a squid to the face? He laughed his ass off once he got over the shock. Little pranks such as this, are part of what made the occasional insanity of military service tolerable. There is most assuredly a time and a place for such things, and in my opinion, they do more for the mental health and welfare of the troops than any number of “scheduled pre-planned enjoyment sessions” that the leadership can think up.

And lastly, as far as the claim that you were proud to serve without complaining. I’m going to have to call bull on that. You expect me to believe that you went through twenty years of service, during a war, and never had a reason to complain once? I’m sorry anyone who says that is either a very bad liar, dangerously insane, or was a trooper in the elite 397th Ice Cream Social & Hooker Regiment.

In summery, I’m glad I served. And I’m grateful that you served. But I think you might not have as much cause to be overbearingly proud as you seem to be.