To demonstrate how veterans and military have their own language, a Vet Center counselor wrote the piece in this post. He’s changed a lot of peoples lives for the better, including mine. Some of you may have read it, or something similar. Enjoy.
A specialist, who had recently been just a PFC with BCGs and a poor APFT and had been considering going on IRR until he ETSed, got a phone call from the LT of Charlie Co. The O-2 informed the E-4 that rather than going to AT or even to PLDC (which is now WLC) he needed to report to MOB site ASAP. The SPEC-4, who had incidentally received an ASAP certificate, which he completed as part of his Article 15 of the UCMJ that JAG had ordered him to do after a trip to the Class 6 when the MPs found four open bottles of JD in his POV while he was at AIT at Fort Sam in FY 02, was an EMT stateside and was CLS-certified and had had an MOS of 11B with the Third ID during OIF I. What do you know? He had just been cross-leveled.
On Day One at Ft. Dix, the GI went to RFI to get his IBA, DCUs, ACUs, Summer PTs, Winter PTs, Wiley Xs, Bellevilles, MOPP this and MOPP that. He met with his UA to postpone his SLRP and GI Bill and to increase his SGLI. Later, he was reintroduced to the M-16-A2 and had to sign for an M4 and a .50 cal. He was tested on the HUMVEE, the LMTV, and the 5-ton with GPS navigation capabilities. He got vaccinated for Hep-A, Hep-B, smallpox and anthrax and then was only given 30 mikes to use the latrine, test his new CAC card and check his BAH on his LES on his AKO account at the MWR, which was next to the main AAFES PX across the hardball from the TMC. The following morning at O-dark-30, the CO and the XO, who had been battle buddies since OBC and appeared to be in search of a CIB to boost their OERs, read the OPORD.
Before he knew it, the junior NCO was on a C-17 touching down at BIAP. His team included a PFC, a PV2, and two INGs, with whom he would patrol MSR Michigan, Route Irish and pull security at ECP 12. Just two months prior, he could be found spending his days watching MTV, VH1, ESPN U, or playing PS 3, xBox, and working out to P90X while listening to everything from AC/DC to U2, but now the young man was in an NCOIC slot when one night around 2200—just a few clicks east of Fallujah en route to the IZ—his assistant TC and gunner spotted an IED. Suddenly, the bangs of an AK exploded nearby and were quickly silenced by some .25 mike mikes. The specialist radioed in his grid and sent in a quick SITREP to EOD and an 11-14 with QRF cordoned the area.
Frustrated that he did not see the IED quickly enough, he managed to borrow NVGs from an SF guy. Unfortunately, when he was finished with them, though, he had handed them off to a KBR look-alike. Scared, the E-4 went MIA and was considered AWOL until he was found hiding behind a box of MREs in a GP Small.
Luckily, the specialist’s wife, who was very active with the FRG, mailed a check to his APO to cover the costs and everything was AOK—except that the soldier was unable to get his Zs 24/7, especially during his two weeks of R&R.
Well, all is well that ends well. On his way home, the E-4 got his stripes and received a BSM with a V-device rather than an AAM, which he expected he would get. He eventually met with the VA at a PDHRA during a reverse SRP and learned that he had symptoms of PTSD according to the DSM-IV. Frightened by a diagnosis, the new E-5 denied the idea. However, one morning while stuck in traffic on the GWB he grabbed for a non-existent 9 mil and realized that perhaps the VA was right. He promised himself he would call the POC at the VAMC by COB. That is when he was referred to RCS for one-on-ones. Now an active member of the weekly group session, the veteran is beginning to learn how to make the proper readjustment. He researches PTSD. He had IDed his triggers and has learned how to take care of himself. That is why we are here.
(This was written by Vet Center counselors Jay White and Roberto Santos on a flight to Las Vegas for the “Evolving Paradigms” conference in 2007. Slight variations have been made since. This was read twice at that conference. It is significant because, although a fictional story, it emphasizes the importance of Vet Centers’ capabilities to speak the language of today’s veterans.)