Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sometimes I'm a Wig-Wam, Sometimes I'm a Tee-Pee

My brief, inglorious tenure with the Reserves has left a bruise.  Although it’s been four years since my departure from active duty, re-affiliation was always part of the plan.  Now I am quite suddenly forced to psychologically separate myself from the Navy.

I've been wandering through Corporate America in sheep’s clothing; completely un-bothered that I have zero in common with most people around me.  My primary reference points are other veterans and a good chunk of my social calendar is spent with old Squadron-mates.

With it clear that military life is forever behind me – that identity is no longer a healthy one.  I am at great risk of becoming one of ”those” guys; enamored with the adventures and exploits of my twenties, expecting all others to be equally enthralled.  This is not an acceptable outcome.

Unlike the Military, the corporate world does not provide a standard-issue psychological construct; or at least, not one that I find appealing.  Smiley corporate guy is not someone I aspire to be, although I do admire his enthusiasm.

Fatherhood, to which I am still relatively new, lends itself quite well to a variety of Ethos – some of which I could probably get behind but would require some self-censorship. Many base elements of my personality are not family-friendly and I’m worried how they might manifest themselves if not allowed exercise. 

Still, this is mostly manageable; father-self is pretty well aligned with regular-self.  Work-self, however, diverges wildly from both.

In the ready room my behavior required no modifications.  In cubicle-land, I really need to lock it up.  This results in my being very quiet most of the time.  Sometimes, I think everyone else is engaged in a similar masquerade but I’m not sure.  Perhaps they've adjusted to their habitat after all those years in the cube.

I don’t think they covered this in TAPS. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Have Reservations

”Show them your license and your orders and see if they let you on, if not call the CDO.”  Those were my only instructions from the reserve PS3 who was my primary point of contact at the NOSC.  After two hours of waiting in line and three calls to the CDO, she finally relented; ”we’ll send someone to the gate to escort you.”

So began an excruciating, although entirely expected day of administrative boondoggling and regulatory logic loops.  You can’t have certificates on you CAC card until you complete Information Awareness training, but you can’t access the training without functioning certificates. Blink. Blink.

While those things inspired amused deja vu, the mobilization landscape was truly unnerving.  My decision to join SELRES was largely predicated on understanding that involuntary mobilizations were history.  Multiple sources assured* me that most available mobilizations were being snapped up by volunteers who (a) needed it for promotion (b) just like to mobilize or (c) were otherwise unemployed and need the money to keep body and soul together.

Multiple conversations throughout the course of that first Saturday convinced me that I had vastly under-estimated this risk.  The CO confirmed in my first meeting with him that the possibility of involuntary mobilization was ”reduced but not insignificant.”  I found myself overwhelmed with dread at living with the specter of a 12-month Afghan IA looming over me like a boogey-man. 

Before you old-timers start in on me; yes, I understand that mobilizing is the actual purpose of the Reserves.  As a young, steely-eyed killer, I would be first in line to admonish Reservists who dared complain about activation.  

That said, my hypocrisy knows no bounds – I joined SELRES for the retirement, the pay, and the insurance of having a reliable fall-back source of income in the worst of times.  All the wrong reasons.  I do not want deploy, now or ever.  For a variety of reasons, a mobilization would be professionally and emotionally devastating to me.  It took me one day on base to realize - I have gone soft.  I am 100% civilian.

On Sunday I submitted paperwork for transition to IRR.  I lasted one drill weekend.  If you aren't willing to do the job, you've got no business wearing a uniform. Period.  Sorry for causing paperwork.  I tip my cap to those who hold the line, but I am through – hit the lights

*Assured may be too strong a word, I have a habit of hearing what I want to hear.