Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Mobilizing is NOT Deploying!"

I discovered when processing through the beehive which is also called, "SRC", that very few soldiers (like, just one lucky dude, also known as yours truly) go through the place who are not outbound for the war zone. The last time I came through here, on my way to Iraq, the process made absolute sense to me because it was geared toward going off to war.

This go-round should have been much different, because I'm staying stateside for my entire tour of duty. So, I'm not facing exposure to hostile conditions, exotic diseases, poisonous reptiles, or bad guys trying to do me in. Do you think that fact registered with the cheerful folks responsible for my administrative return to active duty? Nope, not for one nanosecond. (By the way, calling these folks "cheerful" was not sarcasm...they pretty much all exude a genuinely pleasant and helpful demeanor, which is definitely appreciated!)
At one station after another, the staff tried their darnedest to give me malaria innoculations, cognitive baseline exams (in case I experienced TBI...Traumatic Brain Injury), an Eagle Cash Card, which only works in Afghanistan and Kuwait, spiritual guidance, legal advice for preparing my last will and testament, etc., etc.  It took copious amounts of explanation, plus the negotiating skills of a presidential campaign spin doctor to get me through each superfluous station listed on my "walkabout sheet". ("G'day, Mate, Oi'm 'ere to in-process me an' me wallaby!") Each station had a checklist, and don't even try to suggest that a couple of items could be marked "Not Applicable".

In the end I managed to pretty much complete just the essential missions, like getting paid and having my medical records stamped "Not Dead Yet" and couriered over to the Army Hospital. I couldn't complete the Personnel station, allegedly because I wasn't successfully added to some ginormous Army database because the three elves empowered to do this for aging geezer soldiers were on a six-month sabbatical to France. No biggie, since I suspect that one or more of these elves would have converted my orders into a ticket to Kandahar, which is so not on my bucket list. The SRC will no doubt discover this omission about ten days before I'm due to out-process...through the very same SRC. I'll let you know in a couple of years just how that works out!

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