US Army

Don't call me "Sir."

In which Sig attempts to explain why this bugs him so very much.

Raise a glass.

I'm not a civil rights icon. I'm not a president (live or dead). I'm not (yet) a dead serviceman, nor am I much concerned with Labor. I did not "discover" North America. I'm not a Christmas tree, a groundhog, a secretary, a boss, a pumpkin, an Easter bunny, a cupid, a leprechaun, or a turkey.

Nonetheless, I get my very own holiday. Veteran's Day is all about me--me and the millions and millions who signed on the dotted line before me, signed it along with me, and will be signing it when I'm dust.

So raise a glass, if you will (and metaphorically if you must), to Rodger Young, Roy Benavidez, Audie Murphy, Gary Shughart and Randy Gordon. Raise a glass to Jared Monti, Michael Murphy, Jason Dunham, Ross McGinnis, Michael Monsoor, and Paul Smith.

But keep it raised for Ray Joseph and Big Edge and all of the other guys you didn't read about or see on the big screen.

And then keep it raised for every joe who has arthritis before his time, nightmares he doesn't remember, scars that won't heal, kids who don't know him, and missing limbs and comrades.

Keep it raised for every joe that has ever fixed a truck under fire, every admin puke that stayed late to make sure the dependents were taken care of, and every chaplain that shouldered another man's load.

Keep it raised for every gate guard, school teacher, bus driver, lawyer, computer nerd, mechanic, short order cook, and garbage man that ever wore a different uniform.

Your arm may be getting tired by this point. It should be.

Sig

(If a raging bender at 0800 is not your style, there are some other appropriate ways you could be channeling your appreciation.)

[Addendum: And if you're Peter Jemley or Ron Arlt, today would be a great day to keep your mouth shut.]

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Watada Discharged:

The Army discharged Lt. Ehren Watada on Friday, writing the final chapter on the case of the most prominent military officer to refuse a deployment to Iraq.

Fort Lewis spokesman Joseph Piek confirmed that Watada, who had refused to deploy to Iraq in 2006 with his Stryker brigade because he believed the war was illegal, finished outprocessing shortly before noon Friday.

The Department of Justice dropped an appeal in May against a judge's dismiss key charges against the lieutenant, effectively leading to Friday's dismissal. Watada submitted a resignation request "for the good of the service in lieu of general court martial" at the end of June, Piek said.

The Department of the Army approved that request in September, and the remaining pending charges against Watada were dismissed late last week.

Piek couldn't confirm the type of discharge, citing privacy laws, but Watada lawyer Kenneth Kagan said it was granted under "other than honorable conditions."

Why aren't we allowed to call it a "dishonorable" discharge any longer?

I expect to spend a chunk of my allowance on good whiskey when we finally get rid of one of our other problem children.

Sig

Because "Bataan Happy Fun Kittens and Rainbows March" doesn't flow off the tongue.

I've been thinking about it more since I've been going through photos from Afghanistan in 2006 and planning for some of my soldiers to come back from their current tour there. I'm fortunate to have been able to go the places I've been and see the places I've seen and shoot at the assclowns at whom I got to shoot; not many get those opportunities even once, let alone get paid to have them. I should be grateful that I got to go at all, not annoyed that other people are having fun without me. I should be glad to be here and enjoy my family and my friends and my nation. And I should remember, too, how much I wanted to be back here when I was over there and all of the stuff that I wanted to do then but couldn't. And I should do some of it.

Combat and the Psyche

The sense of unreality and triviality when you return to the States is one of the things that freaked me out the most. I just honestly could not believe that people cared about American Idol when Kevin Edgin was bleeding out in a Humvee north of Kandahar.

Board out of my mind

There may be some value to seeing how much composure a soldier maintains while saying "Sergeant, I do not know the answer at this time" for the tenth time in a row, but I'm not sure what it would be. I honestly don't believe trivia questions help assess anyone's fitness to do anything except memorize and recite trivia, and frankly, we could do with a whole lot less of that in the Army. (I had a friend in junior high and high school who could rattle off the first hundred digits of pi. He was capable of a lot of amazing and useful things, but that was not one of them.)

Killing is our business.

1. Kill people.
2. Break stuff.
3. ???
4. Pension!

Apparently, Fort Lewis doesn't have a single ice-scraper truck.

Really, it's not even the snow--it's the other people. That was the reason I went in early on Wednesday; there were only a few inches of snow, but there was at least half a foot of stupid.

On vocation

[Originally posted at Vox Veterana on 28 AUG 07.]

This is probably interesting only to me.

I have long considered myself a computer technician temporarily in uniform--a "fat computer nerd trapped in a soldier`s body." Part of this is the whole National Guard Thing that they sell you on--one weekend a month, etc. The idea when I signed up was that I could get some training, pick up a security clearance, get in shape, and Do Good, and then come home and get back to my IT career, hopefully by which time the economy would stop sucking. This was mid-2003, by the way.

But it`s time I do the math and face reality.

Computer tech career:

  • 9/00 to 10/00 -- Small computer shop. Printer tech, phone guy, accounting. Laid off. (6 weeks)
  • 12/00 to 9/01 -- Major corporate desktop support. Contractor. Quit right before being laid off. (10 months)
  • 9/01 to 3/03 -- Small land development company. #2 in IT department (of 2). "The good job." Laid off. Can still visit for free lunch and reminisce. (18 months)
  • 6/03 to 11/03 -- NMCI. Google it. Fear it. Never work for it. Fired for being right all of the time. (6 months).
  • 09/05 to 10/05 -- NMCI. Everyone who knew me before was since fired or laid off. Job still ridiculous and painfully mismanaged. Quit because the war was preferable. (2 months)

Total time: 37.5 months

Regime Change Specialist career: [only full-time counted]

  • 01/04 to 08/05 -- Training. Basic, language school, AIT. Came home with a security clearance and a tan. (19 months)
  • 11/05 to 01/07 -- Operation Enduring Freedom. Came home with additional VA benefits, stories I can`t tell, hearing loss, and occasional nightmares. (15 months)
  • 02/07 to 09/07 -- Document translation and Other Duties As Assigned. (8 months)

Total time: 42 months.

And I`m on track to stay in uniform full time for FY08. And maybe to go language school again after that. By that time, we should have invaded somewhere else.

It`s time to face it. I`m actually a soldier who used to do computer work.

It`s actually kind of cool. If I`d known that I had surpassed the time-in-IT mark this summer, I might have had an extra beer--the E-5-single-income-kids-on-the-way equivalent of a party.

Anyway, it`s deep thoughts like this one that have been going through my head lately. I note as I post this that my resolve to get SOMETHING up today was so strong that it was felt by TF Boggs, too. Wiggy.
I`ll try to do better.

Sig

Vox Veterana Archive

In which Sig has collected the entirety of his wisdom scribed at VoxVeterana.com prior to its conclusion--a rather short collection, admittedly.

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