June 15th of 2008 would be the day of my Army career that would forever be remembered as the turning point of my life. Before I was selected to become an Army Recruiter through the Department of the Army, I had a easy-going job at Fort Riley, Kansas training senior leaders of Today’s Army combat readiness skills, and operations. Those senior leaders would form individual teams know as MITT ( Military Transition Teams ) and would go overseas to train the local fighting forces how to be combat ready like the soldiers in the United States Military. My day consisted of doing physical training for an hour each morning, reporting into work at 0900 hours, and getting the task listings for the day from my Platoon Sergeant. My day usually consisted of teaching soldiers the operations of the M19 Grenade Launcher or teaching the operations, and doing live fire events with the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. My day usually ended around 1400 hours unless we had other tasking or classes to teach beyond that time frame. Generally we were home by 1400 hours.
I had a great relationship with my chain of command, I worked diligently with the other soldiers around me, and I never once doubted my chain of command that they couldn’t resolve any personal or work related issue that ever came abound while I was hard at work. I automatically trusted my Platoon Sergeant, and my First Sergeant, and my Company Commander, and my Battalion Sergeant Major, and my Battalion Commander, and my Brigade Sergeant Major, and my Brigade Commander because those leaders were in a position of authority and were put there to make sure the soldiers in their command were taken care of, and looked after so we could accomplish the overall mission. I didn’t have a choice not to trust these leaders. They were my family. They were my guidance, and they were who I went to if I had problems or issues. I felt confident that whatever happened I could always fall back on my chain of command to be understanding, and back me up 100% if I were in the right, and be empathetic and willing to listen if I were in the wrong. So in essence the moral level was very high.
Recruiting School. Fort Jackson, South Carolina. The “School House” soldiers would call it. They called any Military school that. I went into this eight week course with confidence, and integrity. The instructors were all former Station Commanders, 79R etc. One thing that all the instructors had in common was that every station they led, when they first took over that specific station was last in Battalion. Within six weeks they were on top. During ATC that station took all the awards. I thought it was a little odd that every single instructor shared the same story. I started to feel uneasy, and I questioned a lot of things in my mind during my eight week stay at Fort Jackson. I didn’t feel as though the integrity of the Army was there. One instructor even told us a story of how he was driving an applicant to MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) and this female was so gorgeous, and she was wearing these daisy duke cut-off shorts, and a white wife beater shirt, and she took off her shirt, and attempted to perform oral sex on the instructor while he was driving! I was astounded and somewhat relieved because all the other instructors shared similar stories. Was this how recruiting was? Driving around in Government cars receiving oral sex from applicants? Becoming a Station Commander of a Recruiting Station that was so poorly ran that it was in last place in Battalion? But your efforts and skills are so amazing that within six weeks that specific station is in first place in Battalion? It seemed like I was headed to the promise land.
Three days into the course we were given a physical training test. The push-up event, the sit-up event, and the two-mile run. I ran my two miles in 21:19. I failed the two-mile run. So in essence I failed the PT test. I wasn’t the only one. I was also supposed to get checked for body fat percentage because I was over the weight I was allowed to weigh for my age and height. I was never checked. I wasn’t the only one. In a class of about 65 soldiers, I would say that 50 Soldiers actually passed the physical requirements that allowed them to stay in the course. So what about the other 15 soldiers that had some kind of issue with the physical requirements for the course? I remembered being asked one time why I didn’t get my body fat checked. I told the instructor I didn’t know I had to. This was the first time in my Army career that I was asked about my body fat. The instructors didn’t really make it all that clear that I needed that done in the first place. They just drew a pink highlighted mark through my PT card, and told me “I was good.” So I assumed everything was okay. After being questioned about it I was instructed to bring my PT gear to class the next day. I complied with the orders, and the next day I showed up for class with my PT gear. I was never instructed to do anything after that.
Recruiting School was never really physically demanding or mentally exhausting. It was really just a mind game between the students and the instructors. Humoring them and laughing at their jokes and stroking their overinflated egos. It was all just for show. We were always being threatened with being “recycled” if we didn’t do our homework, or if we didn’t show up for class on time. The classes were long and drawn out. The material was dry and boring and irrelevant. At one point or another just about every student fell asleep during class. There was no fear of not passing a test. The real fear was trying to stay awake and avoid being “recycled.” The instructors took everything so personal. I can recall one situation where one of the instructors got reprimanded for something, and he came to teach the following morning, and he was obviously in a depressed/upset mood. He taught the class anyway, but nobody paid any attention because he was just reading the slides on the PowerPoint Presentation, and not really giving any insight. It was like a roller coaster of emotions with these instructors. If we as a platoon showed up late for physical training in the morning they would be mad about it for the rest of the day. If we came back from lunch late the instructors would be upset for the remainder of the day, and we wouldn’t get anything out of the classes they taught.
Graduation day came and I couldn’t be any happier. The last eight weeks of my life was like spending it in a horrible relationship with a bi-polar person. Most of the attitudes in the school from the instructors were uncalled for and unnecessary. They held themselves on such high pedestals like they’ve single handedly saved the world. I was just happy to get my recruiter badge, graduate, and start the long trek from Fort Jackson, South Carolina back to Fort Riley, Kansas. The only thing I was concerned about was where I’d be recruiting out of. Everyone else had their recruiting assignment, but I didn’t. After graduation I had to run to the operations department of the school, and find some civilian that may or may not have my assignment. When I got there of course the civilian I was supposed to talk to wasn’t present. She managed to show up 30 minutes later. Meanwhile, I still have an 18 hour drive to complete, and it was getting later and later in the afternoon. I finally received my assignment.