Final Fallout – Army Enslitment pt. 6

I came home with all these documents about writing essays and getting recommendations, and with questions about how far my life could stretch at one time, and if it was worth it. 6-9 months is a long time. On top of that, the recruiter’s job is to make things happen. So just as I was deciding that officer school was perhaps a bad idea at this juncture, my recruiter came on location at my work in full camo and asked me to meet with his commander that evening to see if we could push through all the paperwork and have my review board by Wednesday. That was Monday. I balked, said it was too fast for my wife. They said it was okay. I scheduled a new day to finish my counseling at the MEPS. I couldn’t do it by Thursday, so I went for Tuesday. This time, no monkey business with the hotel.

Tuesday rolled around, and I got up at some ungodly hour, showered and dressed, and was standing in line with a new set of recruits at 6:00. I went in, documents above my head, put my things in a locker, and headed to the career counselor’s. She smiled at me, remembered my name, looked down at her appointment book and said, “What are you doing here?” The recruiter commander was called. There had been a mistake.

It turns out that Thursday, the one I couldn’t miss work for, was the last day to sign up for Army Reserves for the 2009 fiscal year. Apparently everybody has signed up for the reserves, what with this recession they got going on, and in my dalliance, I had missed the cut. See, this is the part where different departments having different information comes in. The recruiters didn’t know about the deadline until the deadline had passed. Who knows what the MEPS people knew. Thursday, when the recruiters had learned of it, my guy had given me a call to say not to show up on Tuesday. Except he didn’t. I mean, he called, but he didn’t say not to show up. What he did was to leave a message. The message he left was the same message he leaves every time he leaves a message – “Hi this is Sgt. B—-. Give me a call when you get this message.” Since it matched every other message I’d gotten from him, I didn’t realize it was a new message. I’d thought that it was the old message I’d received a week prior. So I’d deleted it. So now, no enlistment at all. The officer option was still open, but with the same misgivings about time.

But it’s not like the Army doesn’t want anybody more in the reserves for all time; just for 2009. So here’s what they did. I came in later and signed up for something called the Delayed Enlistment Program. It’s designed for college students, so they can enlist immediately upon graduation. We picked a career, and dates and locations for basic and tech school. It turned out, after careful research that the only openings available will be for medstaff and civil affairs, which is what I was looking toward in the first place. Of course, it’s all hypothetical, because the enlistment isn’t real. It’s a reservation. Come the new fiscal year, which starts in October, I’ll have to go to the MEPS and start all over again. With any luck, I can avoid the hotel this time.

Career Counseling – Army Enlistment pt. 5

Here’s the part where I blew it. Sort of. It was odd.
I sat down at a desk across from a counselor, reviewed my work and school history with her, and then she handed me a form that said that, considering my degree, they highly recommended I apply for officer school. Wasn’t ready for that. Every other branch I’d looked into had pushed me toward officer training right up until they heard what my degree was, then hey, presto! I was gone. No calls from my recruiter. So when I went to the army, I told them I just wanted to enlist and that I’d worry about officer training later. So here, right in the process of finishing up, I didn’t want that to happen again. And that’s what I told them. The career counselor checked; they didn’t care what degree I had or if I was over the legal age to go to Officer Candidate School. If I had a degree and wanted to be an officer, they’d make me an officer. All right then, it pays better and it’s better suited to my temperament anyway, so I signed.

But that paper sent me off on a goose chase. Phone calls were made to the commander of the recruiters. My documents were gone over with a fine toothed comb. They began initial research for security clearance. The commander showed up, took me into a back room and asked me, “what happened?” Turns out that signing that document was a YES, and my enlistment stopped.

Officer Candidate School, OCS, is a whole different ball game from enlistment. You have to have recommendations; You have to write an essay; you have to have a spotless criminal record; and you have to go before a review board that meets only once a week. Oh, and OCS is an extra 14 weeks of school. You have your basic, and you have your tech school, and OCS fits neatly in between them, making a neat 6-9 months away from your family. Maybe that was something I should have checked with my wife before signing?