In the aftermath of the latest Fort hood debacle. there has to be a lot of guys out there that are like me that consider themselves normal.  But then again, what the hell is normal?  Lets begin at the start of the Military Process.

Not this far back. Politicians like Diapers need changed often and sometimes for the same reason.

In today's Army, there must be some motivation to join or someone is doing a great job of making us believe the All Volunteer Army.  I was Drafted but mostly because I didn't have a handle on my life goals at that time and didn't stay deferred by going to school.  Back then it was a two year stint as a draftee and a lot of us were two and done.  The kids today are being allowed to join and their test scores determine where and what they train.  A Recruiter will take the prospect to the Military Processing Center where they will be given a physical and a battery of tests.  That will determine what the recruit will be eligible for.  If there is an agreement, a contract is signed and the kid goes off to the Military.

This is a good place to Start, Basic Training

Let me promise you that for the most part, and based on hundreds of thousands of recruits, the test scores do determine the best fit for the soldier.  The problem with this system is that no matter what they train you to do, there are glitches in the system.  For example, in the Field Artillery there are a lot of 13B's or cannoneers that have to do alternate duties like truck driver in the Ammo Section.  I am not talking about the additional duties like guard duty and KP, but the jobs that are related but take a different skill set.  On the mobile battlefield, one truck driver might get assigned to make a daily run over semi secured roads and be in a hell of a lot of danger where a driver in another unit may not.

Back this all down to the level of the individual.  As a kid, I played war and saw a lot of competitive games thrown at me.  How many kids saw a chicken killed in their yard.  One weekend, I helped the Lawrence's kill at least 200 chickens and take them to a locker plant.  Did someone like me faint at the first sight of blood?  Nah.   In the Reception Station on soldier passed out when we watched a film that had actual footage of an accident scene.  It was pretty bloody but you can bet he didn't get to go on with us.  He had enlisted as an interpreter in German and had a three year enlistment and really wanted to go to Germany.  A lot of us only wanted "US" out of the Army.  I guess what I am trying to say here is that the Army tests can't fully measure the effects of Nature and Nurture on the recruits. 

I can't speak for all units, obviously, but there were a lot of good people in lousy units and bad people in great units.  How that unit accepts the soldier and makes him feel a part goes a long way to how well both the soldier and his unit performs.  In the Draft era, a lot of us went to units basically as fillers and I know that there was a lot of resistance to making friends with the newbie's.  It took a while to get established in a unit and by the time you were about half way through your tour, half of the other guys are the newbie's.  Today, there is a move to keep soldiers assigned to the same units and hopefully that builds camaraderie.   The problem is if the soldier is not a good fit, it is not as easy to transfer him to a new unit. 

Lt Petty Somewhere in the boonies.

Now, throw in the effects of combat, and things don't always land heads or tails but sometimes the coin lands sideways or not at all.   Ask yourself what have you listened to this week and how much do you trust the sources of the information.  One report said that Obama had a 31% approval and within the same week the report was that he was 48:49 percent approved.  One report shouted that 7 million people have signed up and then another report says that there are 61 Million that should have signed up.    Who do you believe?  Why do you believe it.

Just today in the paper there was a report that the FBI was here to talk to a kid that has become a Muslim and wants to go join a Jihad somewhere.  The paper pointed out that this kid had been the Commander of the Marine Corps High School ROTC program. he was quoted discussing the Toys for Tots Campaign in the local paper. He was on a delayed enlistment and then didn't report as ordered. Where do you suppose he got his Significant Emotional Event from? 

I think I came home from Combat and tried to put myself back in the right place and do the right things.  For some reason, I found it easier to self medicate with beer than really deal with my life and do the right things.  I finally stopped drinking and that was that.  What would have been normal if I hadn't.  What would a relapse look like? 

The other day I saw a guy with a Vietnam Veteran hat on in the Grocery store.  I went up to him and said, "I don't understand.  When I went to Vietnam we were a bunch of kids and now all I see are a bunch of old men wearing those Vietnam Veterans hats."   He laughed and I found out that he was down in the Delta with the 9th Division.  I told him that I was in the Artillery and supported the 4th Division a lot.  His wife looked at me and said that everyone in the store could hear us talking because we were both deaf.  I told her about the Old Soldier that came into the Kitchen and asked  is wife, "What's for supper?"  When she didn't answer, he asked again, "What's for supper?"  The third time he asked "What's for supper his wife turned and faced him and said, "For the third time, Hamburgers!"  The wife laughed out loud and pointed to her husband.   I get it also.

So the next time you see that some soldier did something that doesn't seem quite normal, ask your self what is normal?   Beats the hell out of me.  I'm fine, it's you that I don't know about.


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