When a spouse is deployed, people tend to look on the down sides of the situation. Yes, like most spouses, I miss mine terribly, and support him one hundred percent. However, I have also come to enjoy some of the benefits of him being deployed. We all know our financial benefits that we receive once deployment begins, but here are a few more that are often overlooked and considered more on the lighter side of things.
First, fewer late night accidents. Many times I’ve had to walk blindly into the living room at night only to stumble over combat boots placed in my path. Trying to retrieve a book from the dining room table becomes somewhat of a mission, trying to get past what I consider land mines of army gear scattered about, dodging and turning. If I am lucky I am able to stagger out of the red zone unscathed.
Second, you can finally decorate everything your way. Now that your spouse is deployed, why not bring out those flower patterned pillows or old deer head out of storage. Or maybe take down that picture of your mother-in-law hanging over your bed. You will be the one having to look at these things for the entire deployment, so you might as well enjoy the look of your living quarters. By the time your spouse returns, he or she might realize that you indeed were right, that bookshelf does look better in that corner.
Third, time to take on a hobby. Whether it be knitting, stamp collecting, running, or fishing, just do something. This time is the perfect opportunity to take on a hobby because not only will it keep your mind somewhat distracted, but you will actually be able to accomplish something within your hobby. So when your spouse gets home you can show him that sweater that took you twelve months to knit, or how you can out run him or her on a two mile run.
Fourth and final benefit, more space—everywhere! No longer do you have to rub elbows with your loved one while trying to brush your teeth, hoping that you both remember whose turn it is to spit in the sink. No longer do you have to sleep on the edge of the bed, grasping at what little sheet your spouse has left you with, while desperately trying not to fall off. Now you can enjoy brushing your teeth without having to clean toothpaste out of your hair, and enjoy sleeping in the middle of the bed.
Even though I cannot wait until my husband returns from his deployment, I will be making the best of my time. Now, if only I can figure out how to take down the beer sign without dropping it on my toe.
(This column appeared this week in the Fort Lewis Ranger newspaper)
David is almost home. Here's the latest from the Fort Lewis Stryker...
Starting the process
I remember in Basic Training the recruits were always looking forward to the day that Basic would be finally over. Men would inscribe on the calendar “40 Days and a wake up.” I remember riding on the cattle truck while going out to training exercises looking on the walls I would see all the men from the past who wrote how much they couldn’t wait to get out of basic. (Fifty to 60 guys on a real cattle truck smashed together — it’s unbelievable, and somewhat unsafe, but they still do it. I remember thinking one time, "If the president could see this, what would he say?") As of late, the term “wake up” has been used often. I was walking to the shower, and someone said in jubilant voice, “Dave, thirteen days till a wake up.” I replied with a laugh. “Are you sure you’re ready for all of the annoying things that come with being in garrison?” The young solider replied, “Yeah, that is going to suck, but I will be home and able to get away from all of this.” As I walked up the stairs to the shower, I answered, “For some of us, the real battle is when we hit home and realize that life has moved forward and things have changed — some for the good and some for the bad. And that might be hard for some people. So when you do ‘wake up’ like you all say, remember what you’re waking up to. Because when one stress is gone, another simply falls in place.” The solider looked down and then raised his head as if he had thought about it. Before I walked through the door, he sheepishly replied, “You’re right. I hadn’t really thought about all that — the wife, bills, kids, house and just trying to get back to being a dad and a husband, hmmm.” I nodded my head concurring and quickly shuffled into the shower room. (Hot shower by the way.)
I look at the new patrol schedule that’s out, and on the last day in big print it says, “Getting the hell out of here.” Over the past 15 months of reading patrol schedules seeing days leading into more days has been agonizing, so this is the patrol schedule that counts the most — the final countdown. During the final countdown, there are, however, many details that need to be done. Normally, when the word “detail” is brought up it’s like asking guys if they want to go to church — everyone runs for the hills. But in this situation, the incentive of getting the detail done is a ticket out of this country, so I’m not surprised to see some highly motivated men shuffling around getting it done and done fast.
In the evening we receive the detail list and who’s doing what and what the time hack is on it. Our acting squad leader, Sgt. Smith, pulls out his notebook, which has a laundry list of tasks that need to be done. Everyone in the room waits in bated breath for what the detail is. As it goes, we would be the first truck to completely strip and clean and get ready for shipment. When the list is read, it seems like about only two hours worth of work, but just like in sports, the stats on paper don’t always give you all of the details of what you’re going up against.
I had been having a really bad week, and my irritation level was higher than normal. A lot had to do with just being plain nervous about getting home, and of course, the other stuff was political stuff that always gets me going, but that’s not what this story is about. So we shuffled our way out to the truck at 7 a.m., and for a moment, everyone just stared at the truck like it was going to come apart by itself. Sometimes it just takes someone to start the process. OK, so you’re all thinking I gave the guys some great speech and jumped in the truck. Nope. It was young buck Davie who lead the charge. He jumped in the truck, and we started the process. Being in Staff Sgt. Rine’s squad, there is one thing you know how to do, and that is work your ass off and get things done. He trained us very well in that area. Granted, it was with some corrective training, but it proved this day that it had worked because even though he wasn’t there we still gave 100 percent — with limited whining, which came later.
The sun started to peak, and the heat started to increase. Having started early, we managed to get the whole truck stripped in less than two hours. It was weird to look at the truck just as a shell, to know just a day or so ago we were riding around doing our thing. The greatest part was to come. As we sat there in the little shade that was left, we heard the distinctive sound of a Stryker coming. It wasn’t one of ours because this bad boy was still as green as grass in Washington in the winter. The truck backed up, and the ramp came crashing down. “Wow, that thing came down fast.” Out came the fresh faces we had been awaiting.
After introducing ourselves, we started the process of turning over stuff. That didn’t take long. The VC of the truck said that they were just going to get the stuff they needed — such as the Sappy plates — and configure the truck later. After some talking, we decided that we would train them to put the cans on the truck, making their truck the example. Well, since our guys are faster at putting on the cans, we just went to work. The thing to me wasn’t how fast we put it on but rather teaching them, so they could help out their other guys. I must remind you the cans are heavy, and it takes a team of guys to get the job done. At one point, I think our squad forgot the whole training part and just wanted to get it done. I could tell the new guys hadn’t adapted to the weather yet, because they would sit in the shade trying to get cool and drink some fluids.
After a little while, I found myself wondering if the training part was coming because our guys looked like they had gotten in a fight with a fire hose. It irritated me a little. I went to get some cool water for the guys from the cooler by the TOC. I ran into a friend of mine, and I started sharing my irritation about putting these cans on again and how our guys seemed to be doing a lot more of the effort. Like always, my voice traveled, and of course, people heard me. Before you know it, I have the first sergeant reminding me that these guys are our brothers and we are going to set them up for success and to stop bitching. I am used to my mouth getting me into trouble. I just say what I feel, and I live with it. Well, already having a bad week quickly would turn on me again. So I walked out the door giving the first sergeant a respectable “Roger.” As soon as I walked out the door, I hit my stopwatch to time how long it would take before that little conversation hit my platoon sergeant and then my squad leader and get back to me. It took a total of six minutes. I said to myself, “Man, I just keep finding ways to get further and further from the E-5 board.” At least I am consistent with screwing myself, and at least I know it. I have been doing it for four years. Some of the reasons are really valid and worth it. Others, well, are me just being not too bright.
Before you know it, my acting squad leader took me off to the side. “Oh, here we go,” I said as I walked over to him. I knew what it was about, and I was completely honest and explained what I had said and what I meant by it. He was professional and treated me like an adult and said to cut out the side comments. I respected that. The rest of the day while working I worked harder simply because he didn’t treat me like some young buck. But I am sure I will still get something referencing it on my end of the month counseling — nothing new. So after everything was complete, the guys drove off in their truck after seven hours of fun and excitement.
So you’re all asking why I just wrote a story about my getting in trouble. Well, number one, I am not perfect, and it’s part of life in the Army — especially with me. So, yes, the end of the tour is coming, and maybe I have lost some of my military bearing. But when it comes down to what I feel, I say it regardless who’s around — trying to be respectful at the same time. Doing that, you need to have the courage to face the music, and I do.
The day ended, and all of us were tuckered out. I was so tired I just lay down in my bed and fell asleep. This would be the first day in some time that I wouldn’t put on my shoes and go for a run.
The next days will be full of more details and some patrols. But before you know it, I will be sitting pretty in my house away from all of this madness for a while, but still not forgetting what I told the young man about coming home and dealing with issues. I am ready to face whatever comes my way. Ladies and gentlemen, your men will be home shortly.
Army Capt. Christopher Hormel of Spokane, Wash., and his team, including Ohio native, Army 1st Lt. Leah Wicks, and Army 2nd Lt. James Hardy from Louisville, Ky., all officers of the 66th Military Police Company stationed out of Fort Lewis, Wash., listen to speeches at the Afghan independence day ceremony at Torkham Gate held Aug. 19.
By Army Pfc. Daniel M. Rangel
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP TORKHAM, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the 66th Military Police Company, stationed out of Fort Lewis, Wash., accepted an invitation from the Afghan border police to take part in the Afghan independence day festivities held Aug. 19 on the Pakistan border at Torkham Gate.
As part of the celebration, Soldiers from the 66th MPs listened to speeches and watched Afghan children sing songs, which celebrated the occasion. After the performance, Soldiers were invited to dine with their Afghan hosts at a lavish meal prepared for the event.
The Afghan’s hospitality comes after months of successful partnership between the 66th MPs and local law enforcement along the Pakistan border.
“We’re a part of their community,” said Army Capt. Christopher Hormel of Spokane, Wash., 66th MPs commander. “We’re trying to build their capabilities and their capacities to do policing.”
“Our biggest thing is partnering with and training up the national police,” Hormel said. “Our partnership is very good. We have a couple of problem areas, of course, down here at the Tora Bora Mountains. But overall (the partnership is) extremely good.”
The problems Hormel spoke of derive from having some local police chiefs and sub-governors being more cooperative than others because of fear that insurgents will retaliate.
In order to counter the threat of insurgents, the 66th MPs routinely perform force protection assessments.
“We make sure that they have what they need to defend themselves,” Hormel said. “We make requests for extra Hescos to build up their force protection and the Ministry of the Interior (gives) weapons to the provincial chief of police.” Hesco barriers are stackable dirt-filled barriers, which provide cover from fire during attacks.
During their assessments, they also take a census of law enforcement personnel and the weapons at their disposal. The rest of the month is spent conducting training and joint patrols.
“A good way to think of it is on-the-job training,” Hormel said. “We go out there and do hands-on (training) with them. The idea is (that) they go to the regional training center and get their basic training. Then they go out to the districts (and) we take over from there.”
The regional training center for Afghan law enforcement is located just outside of Jalalabad. The 66th MPs build upon the training the recruits received there.
“We do a little class then we take them out,” Hormel said. “We take them from their rough training that they get and try to hone their skills a little bit more so that they’re a lot more effective.”
Training consists of basic police skills such as securing an area, vehicle searches, personnel searches and handcuffing techniques.
Strong Afghan law enforcement along the border is a source of pride and part of the meaning of Afghan independence for an Afghan border police officer known in the area as “Maj. Sultan.”
“In Afghanistan we have a lot of pride,” Sultan said. “We have Hazara; we have Pashtun. We have a lot of tribes. (To be) Afghan means to bring together all of them.”
And now, with the partnership between Afghan law enforcement and coalition forces, it means unity, Sultan said.
Editor's Note: The entire story runs tomorrow in the Fort Lewis Ranger. Look below for photos from the event.
“This is the best birthday ever.” according to Seth Theriault who just turned five last week. The party on Tuesday was small, a handful of kids in the backyard of the Fisher House. There were balloons, a face painter and a bouncy house – what any five-year-old would want at his party.
Seth was having a good time, not thinking that the next day, he was to start chemotherapy.
Last March, Seth was diagnosed with Leukemia. He and his mother are staying at the Fisher house while he receives chemotherapy at Madigan Army Medical Center. The Fisher House is a place where military families of any branch of service can live when a loved one is getting treatment at the hospital.
The party was courtesy of the Pierce Military Business Alliance. Donations from the businesses that make up the organization helped pave the way to give Seth a party he wouldn’t forget. The PMBA is a non-profit organization made up of area businesses that help the military community. They help support the morale, readiness, welfare and retention at both Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.
The companies that make up PMBA are: The Boeing Company, CoinForce.com, Concrete Technology Corporation, Garlic Jim’s, Geico Insurance, Harborstone Credit Union, Korum Automotive Group, Luce and Associates, NW Airlifter and Fort Lewis Ranger Newspapers, Support America’s Armed Forces, The Theoe Group, and TriWest Healthcare Alliance.
– Photos courtesy of Carlene Joseph, Harborstone Credit Union
Army Times is on the streets today with a cover story on gang members in the military. In the report, the paper states that "nearly 130 gang and extremist group members have been identified at Fort Lewis, Wash., since 2005."
Last month, several cars on North Fort were spray-painted with the word, "Crips." That matter is still under investigation.