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Under Scrutiny

October 13, 2008

The Husband has finally found something he wants to jump feet first into at our local ROTC detachment.  The internal struggles he’s faced since leaving active duty to join the student population have been almost unbearable.  

How do you take a man who’s seen combat several times, been thrown off the back of a plane to form a forward operating base in Iraq and tell him to join a college ROTC detachment?  It’s not easy for the ROTC unit, and it’s not easy for the man.  Finding ourselves in the midst of college angst has been difficult, to say the least.  Something that is alive and breathing in the military is the separation of ranks.  The Husband is enlisted right now (E-6), once he graduates he’ll be a commissioned officer (O-1) in the Air Force.  

Enlisted personnel are oft looked at as the “lower class” of the military.  We’d be the blue collar workers in a white collar world.  Unfortunately, the separation of ranks starts in school (at least, here it does).  For the past year, these pimply faced 18 and 19 year old kids thought themselves better than The Husband simply because he’s enlisted.  Forget the fact that The Husband was awarded some of the finest medals to come out of OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) and OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom).  Forget the fact that The Husband has witnessed firsthand things that these children won’t find in a video game.  He’s not as good as them.  He’s enlisted.

On the flightline, separation of rank is not as prevalent as it is elsewhere in the military.  On the flightline, men work side-by-side to complete hundreds of missions a week.  Pilots drop their gear, hop out of the plane and find themselves unwinding at the end of the day huddled around a table, sipping beer with the men that take care of them.  Regardless of rank, they sit and enjoy the company of those around them.  I will always hold tight and true to integration of rank in our family.  No one is a lesser being in my mind.  You fight for your country, you’ve earned my respect.  Period.

Coming to school and going through the ROTC program has had its challenges.  The Husband felt out of touch with those around him.  The first year was very difficult for him. Not only did he have a wife at home suffering from depression, he was being ostracized by the cadets at school.

Somehow this year he’s taken greater interest in his work with the ROTC.  He’s been planning an exercise for a few weeks to take the kiddos out in the field and teach them survival skills.  Of course, props are always needed in The Husband’s shenanigans.  He set about making missiles last week in our garage.  He cut 5 foot long pieces of PVC pipe, then attached wooden fins to the end.  He propped them by the door of our garage and painted them OD green.  

Of course, in my never ending playfulness, I opened the garage door last week to take the trash to the curb only to find four construction men standing across the street working on the new homes. Seeing me, they raised their hands in greeting only to suddenly go ashen, drop their gazes and find themselves deep in conversation.  I hollered good morning to them, returned to the house and promptly recited the story to The Husband in a giggling fashion.  I told him he should run upstairs to the computer and google Al Queda, Terrorists, Taliban… that way Homeland Security would surely find themselves on our doorstep by nightfall.  Much to my surprise, The Husband had done just that earlier in the week to print out pictures for his “briefing” with the kiddos.  Whoops.

He spent the day training the kiddos on how to use the equipment and intel at hand to locate and flush out terrorists.  Finally, he’s found a way to co-exist with the ROTC kiddos and his past as a real-life hero.  I, on the other hand found a paper bag and practiced breathing when I realized the very real possibility that we’d be expecting a visit from the Men in Black.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 13, 2008 09:14

    Cat:
    This was a great post. For one thing, as a non military gal, I really don’t understand the inner dynamics. I could just imagine the whole thing playing out and your kind husband swallowing the bitter pill and rising to the challenge. I love the fierce pride you feel for him and the way it comes through in your writing. And if the Men in Black come by, I’d be happy to provide a character reference.:)

  2. October 13, 2008 14:21

    You certainly live in an interesting world. I would have loved to see the faces on the workers!
    I had no idea that there were divisions in the ranks – so much I don’t know about the military.

  3. October 13, 2008 18:13

    I enjoyed this post very much. I can understand (a little) of what your hubby is going thru. I changed jobs a couple of years ago and came in as a “rookie” being trained by people half my age. It was certainly difficult at first. Your hubby seems to be handling it with grace, which does not suprise me.

  4. October 13, 2008 21:42

    I’m over here giggling to myself. I understand the whole not fitting in thing….I’m a fish out of water here in our TRADOC assignment, but my husband, ever the trainer of young soldiers has the ARMY dud training missles, LAWs, rifles and surface to ground missles in our garage……along with the crates all this stuff comes shipped to the Army in…..try ‘splaining that to Lucy’ when she and her moving company show up to pack your ass out to move……one moving guy did not buy my story and he took his team and went home……I had to call the company back and beg them to call my husband at work for the explanation…..now we just laugh, but we have a letter explaining what they are ready to hand to them so they don’t get all “HOMELAND” security on us…..geesh, if we were going to blow up something, do you honestly think we’d go ahead and let them move it for us? We are not that stupid…..they have the flyboys for kind of mistake, oops did I type that outloud ; ) KIDDING…….

  5. Ted and Kristin permalink
    October 15, 2008 03:00

    Hee. hee. 🙂 That is awesome! 🙂

  6. October 16, 2008 13:59

    That’s too funny about the Men in Black! I’m glad things seem to be going better and always feel encouraged reading your posts. 🙂

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