The officer recruiting program has been hitting me pretty hard lately.
Actually, everyone’s been trying to talk me into becoming an officer since the day I first reported for duty. Having a bachelor’s degree is one of the requirements for becoming a commissioned officer, and since I already had a degree when I enlisted, it seemed as though I was on the fast-track to general-dom. My first company commander sent me to an officer candidate retreat before I had even gone to basic training; the officers there all but had me signed up for Officer Candidate School (OCS), but I declined, since I figured that I should probably figure out what the hell was going on with this Army thing before I tried to make a career out of it. Plus, I didn’t want to be one of those sterotypical clueless lieutenants that everyone hates – I considered it vital to have some experience under my belt before I tried to tell anyone what to do.
Every time I tell a fellow soldier that I have a four-year degree, the Pavlovian response is: “why aren’t you an officer?” or “you should go to OCS!” It’s as if going to college is some kind of pre-commissioning course. I don’t ever ask the obvious follow-up question, which is: If my having a degree makes it inevitable and obvious that I should get a commission, does that mean that since you joined the Guard for the college money, you’re also going to become an officer? Naturally, the answer would in almost all cases be “no,” or sometimes, “hell no.”
Some who worked with me even said that I somehow looked and/or sounded like an officer. At Fort Polk in 2003, some guy I didn’t know came up to me and started jabbering on about “hey, sir,” this and “congratulations, sir” that, while I just looked at him. Granted, we were wearing these cool jumpsuits instead of Army uniforms (long story), but still – I was wearing a name badge. During the period I like to call ‘Midwest in the Mideast,’ a certain sergeant renowned for being a West Point graduate and for storing bottles of his urine in his wall locker always called me “General” and talked about what a great senior officer I’d make some day.
I’ve never felt a great desire to be an officer – particularly a signal officer. As far as I can tell, being a lieutenant is like being a private. Since I’ve never had the pleasure of being a private (I came in at E-4 – specialist – because of my degree), I’m not exactly excited to live that experience now. Plus, being an officer seems really boring – for the most part, it seems like you’re always either doing paperwork, going to meetings, or doing dumb shit some senior officer doesn’t want to do. No offense to the officers out there – somebody’s got to do the job, but it just isn’t going to be me.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten two or three emails from the officer recruiting program. The latest identified me as a soldier in a “critical MOS,” which is funny considering that my MOS has been all but eradicated from my unit’s MTOE (modified table of organization & equipment). In my company, there are maybe two or three E-5 positions (“slots”) for my MOS, and I hold one of them. Today, I got a pamphlet in the mail about the same thing, saying “Your time is now! Don’t just serve…lead!” The other side of the pamphlet wasn’t exactly confidence-inspiring, considering the return address was from “Roosevills, MN.” I’m guessing that’s a mangling of “Roseville,” but I’ll tell you, nothing screams competence like a brutal misspelling of your own address. As they say, you can’t spell ‘lost’ without ‘LT,’ but apparently you can spell ‘proofreading’ without it.
I am thinking about the warrant officer program, though. Twizzy is saying he’s going to start his journey to warrant-hood next fall, and I might join him. How would that sound? “Chief Delobius”? Sounds better than “Lieutenant Delobius”…