This weekend, we visited my brother in law at his new duty station, Ft. Irwin. I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it’s an awful place. The term “God-forsaken” is about as apt as you can get. We encountered many a strange insect and animal in his backyard, it was ridiculously hot, and very very isolated. I feel so bad for him. I was hoping he’d find a little joy and purpose in his job, but as of now (he’s been there a little over a month), it’s not going so well. He’s a Staff Sergeant (E6) in a job (MOS) that has too many Staff Sergeants, and very few Sergeant First Class (E7) positions, so he can’t get promoted until some of those people get out of the Army or get promoted to E8 – of which there are even fewer positions. So even after two tours in Iraq, one to Kosovo and one to Bosnia in the last five years, his promotion potential is very very small. Add to that an inordinate amount of confusion and mismanagement in his new unit, and he is very unhappy.
We talked a little about his first tour in Iraq, and we all got teary eyed because it’s such a depressing situation. He spoke of the good he did (building a school, playing soccer with Iraqi children) but he also spoke of the Iraqi’s inherent distrust of Americans and the lack of trustworthiness of many Iraqi’s.
It’s really an awful situation that our service men and women are in.
After 14 years of service, my brother-in-law is seriously considering getting out. Not because of deployments that have ruined his marriage. Not because he missed the whole first year of his second daughter’s life. But because the Army doesn’t make sense to him anymore. The war in Iraq overrides everything. This means he will forgo his retirement. He’s that unhappy. And this is someone who REALLY REALLY REALLY loved being a soldier. It breaks my heart.