It has been three weeks since my last posting…. almost an eternity in the blogosphere. The past month has been full of emotions, crazy busy schedules and a lot of traveling. A while back I wrote about the military life , as well as encouraged my faithful readers to ask what they would like to know about this painfully wonderful lifestyle. Jenni was curious to know about our abilities to influence decisions regarding deployments, duty stations, and such.
Well, the life in military is a roller coaster ride. Fun one, though. That’s a good starting point.
Deployments are decided on a very high level, so there really is no way to get out of them, or decide when to deploy. In fact the only decision that we can make is to volunteer to join a deploying unit. When the time is to go, it is time to go. Personal situations, own desires, or just “I-don’t-feel-like-going” attitude don’t make any difference. So when we get the orders, that’s it. There will be that dreaded, horrible, miserable day of
tearful see-you-laters. There will be white busses taking the loved ones away. And there will be the joyful day of homecoming when life starts to fall back on its tracks again.
Duty stations, on the other hand, are slightly different regarding the preferences. There are something called branch managers who figure out the manning for different duty stations. With some luck we are able to pick one of the favorite locations, and then there are times when we just go where we are told to go. While I don’t know too much about the enlisted service members’ duty station selection process, they often have possibilities to pick their favorite at the time of re-enlistment. The first duty stations right after the Basic training (aka bootcamp) and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) are simply assigned – no preferences there. The assignment is based on the military’s needs and person’s specialty. So if your Mom&Dad live in Alabama and sister in Louisiana, it has no impact at all on Army’s decisions and you can find yourself dealing with the -40 temperatures at Ft Wainwright in Alaska.
While the Army’s needs are always the highest priority, in the Officer world our wishes have been heard. With the latest move we were looking at a post in Kansas as our first option but then the Army kindly showed us their cards with even better location options where we then were able to pick an amazing location for us. In fact Army tries to accommodate personal wishes pretty well – whenever it is feasible from the mission point of view. Frequent moves every few years are a blast if you ask from me, and a great way to see the country (or world) as well as do a really good inventory of all property. Do I really need this not-so-gorgeous TV stand anymore? Nope. Get rid of it.
For some people being part of something this big is a huge stressor. They get anxious over the facts that the spouse’s job may entail… but similarly, the civilian workforce is not fair at all. People get laid off, they have to move to new places for better opportunities… life is.
My personal advice for dealing with the military is to pick your fights smartly. I absolutely refuse to stress over things that I can’t change. Instead, I am picking the silver lining in everything: whether it is the deployment (there are silver linings even in deployments), new duty station, whatever the
military life may bring to us. It all just needs a good amount of self-confidence, strong will, and a happy heart. It sounds like a cliché, like too easy. But in all honesty, even military life is just life so why not to enjoy it.
But dear readers, keep the questions coming …. I am happy to write these military themed posts every once in a while.