Yesterday was safety stand down day. I realize that this sounds important, but it turned out to be yet another snore fest. Maybe I was just surly because I gave up a trip to the mall to go to safety day. I actually had the option to go to either one this time, but SPC Cowell wanted to go to safety day. (eyes rolling) I will admit that it was a good idea, safety day that is, it just turned out to be another program that was done half heartedly.
We started early. All of HHT (headquarters headquarters troop) was gathered at the TOC (tactical operations center.) Most everyone was milling about saying the obligatory good mornings. Safety day started with a powerpoint(I am beginning to believe that power point was invented by the devil himself) presentation on environmental injuries and environmental things we need to know at JRTC (joint readiness training center.) The big thing I took away is separate your trash at JRTC. WOW I realize that the Army can be picky but these guys are seriously ridiculous.
Next we moved on to the "critters of Iraq." Did you know that they have 7 different types of deadly snakes and 4 different types of deadly scorpions and no antivenom anywhere closer than Iran. What is the deal? Is antivenom that difficult to obtain that after 3 years there we still can't put our hands on any. I guess it is just economical, not that many people actually get bit or stung by venomous things here. Key point for me stay away from the critters. I actually know a guy whose hobby in the US is catching venomous snakes, and when he went to Iraq he continued his hobby. Now I am not one who is terrified of snakes, but I do have a healthy respect for them. I guess another crazy pastime in Iraq is to catch scorpions and camel spiders and have insect wars. The scorpion wins 99% of the time so I hear. Sounds interesting but no thank you.
After being freaked out a little more we moved on to vehicle safety. There we went over things we already know like where to safely place the jack, and what to do in case of a roll over, wear your seat belt, yadda yadda yadda. At this point I thankfully got a phone call for a real world mission. Not that I was happy to deliver bad news, but I feel some sense of purpose when I am doing something that only I can do. What is strange is that the news no matter what it is, does not help much with knowing how to predict how the encounter will go over with the soldier.
The Army system is just that a system. It is cold and blind. It does not care if you have a family, and it does not care if you have other commitments. That may be the hardest part of this job. If anything ever happened to my grandmother or my aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews I couldn't come home. Don't take this wrong I am not airing my complaints, I am just attempting to spell out for you the situation that some of these soldiers are faced with. I know that if something were to happen to my nephew Damon for instance, it would devastate me to not be able to come back home to be with my family at that time.
There does seem to be some purpose for this system. The army like a family with tons of brothers and sisters. If one sibling gets something, I guarantee you that everyone will want the same thing. The purpose of having a standard regulation then is to help accomplish our mission. It will amaze you how dependent the army is upon ordinary people. At times it seems like the army is just a big machine, but the moving parts of that machine are people. If too many parts go missing the machine just doesn't work, and the job doesn't get done.
I say all this to say that I understand why, why the regulation only allows you to go home for certian emergencies for immediate family only. (father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children, to include step and in-law, but it still sucks. And it is impossible to explain why it is like that to someone who just wants to be there for their family. I guess that is part of the reason the Army has me here, to help cover that gap. That being said hopefully you all will more fully understand the sacrifice paid by these great Americans I am privilidged to serve with.
Jesus be my strength and my shield. Help me serve both those who know you and those who do not. For those soldiers who do know you help me to remind them to take some comfort in the knowledge that those who love Jesus will be reunited. Also that this place is only a shadow of the eternal, and that those who have died in Christ now live in the light having escaped the shadow. For those soldiers who do not know you send your Holy Spirit to light the way to a relationship with you. Let me be your voice to a generation crying out for you. Though they deny you with their lips their hearts know you and long for you. Lord help me to bring understanding, and prepare me to help these soldiers carry their pain. Amen
Well we leave for JRTC tomorrow so I may be physically unable to post for awhile. Please check back from time to time.