Saturday, January 27, 2007

With a bang

I've spent the better part of the past three weeks dealing with a malaise about writing. I'm looking through my post history and there have been about a dozen post started and stopped before ever finishing. Some of them are nothing more than a couple words about how I'm not in the mood to write something. Others are about a plethora of things that just stopped interesting me after the first three paragraphs and seven "anyways".

I'd like to say that something grand and inspiring happened that's made me resume writing, but nothing has. Honestly, even this post, assuming it survives long enough to make it to "publish" doesn't represent a reopening of my semi-consistent drivel, but you know what? It's time for me to get back into plugging away, writing about my often repetitve work life.

First let me address something that I'd said a short while ago, and an event that marked the decline in my desire to write. I'd written a post that cast myself in an unflattering light, and more importantly other people with whom I work were in the same light. I don't care about what the post said about me. Hell, I'm the one who wrote it so even if I did care it's not like there's anyone but myself to blame. However when I dragged someone else into the spotlight, someone who didn't deserve the attention, that was a tough moment.

This website isn't read by a whole lot of people. Even at my "peak" there aren't more than a dozen or so folks who check in on this. Two of these people I'm related to by blood or marriage, which leaves about 10 other people who read what I write. Included in these 10 are Soldiers in my chain of command. It's part of their responsibility to read what I post because, well, I'm a Soldier, I'm in the Army, and I'm putting things out into the world that, regardless of my disclaimers, are still put into the world to be read, quoted, etc. I've never been told to withdraw a comment, and I've never been reprimanded for the content of the site. I could get paranoid and adjust my writing to bland platitudes about nothing in particular, but that doesn't interest me, and should I ever get to that point I'd just shut the whole thing down rather than put out a sub-standard version of an already pretty poor product.

Looking back at my history I've been running this thing for over a year and a half. Much of my tour to this point has been covered on this here website. I've seen other recruiter blogs come and go. The recruiters who were here before me have PCS'd back into the Army, and the next generation have reported for duty. I've read the stories of people who have processing for the military in all different services. I've read about them shipping, I've read about their time at training, I've read about their successes and setbacks.

My email box is filled with messages from leads, prospects, applicants, Future Soldiers, Soldiers, fellow recruiters, and those who support all of us. People asking questions about the Army. Wondering if MEPS always loses paperwork (no, just can seem that way), or when their daughter will be able to call them (she won't have a lot of time during the week, but she should have the time on Sunday if she does everything else she needs to. If you speak with her tell her to write you more letters, you have to send mail to receive it). I've had a couple of haters too, some of which were sent by people who I'm guessing are very petty and don't like to use spellcheck.

This is not something I do for recognition or publicity. I'd originally, long long ago, started with a blog I titled "Adventures of a Reluctant Recruiter". It's long since been deleted. I started it the day I got the call that I'd been detailed. I was about 2/3s into a six pack of Sam Adams when I started and the blog didn't survive the first week of recruiting school. It was Jack Army who got me motivated enough to try again, and then provided that first link which kept me going.

It's weird, going through the archives I've spent a lot, a lot, of words talking about how much recruiting can suck. And yet my email contains many messages from people undaunted by the process, who are eager to begin and just looking for validation that the processing doesn't reflect the reality of the Army. I'd like to think that maybe, just maybe, one of those people were to keep up the process by reading someone else getting just as upset about something "downtown" as they were. Who knows if that ever happens though.

**I just got a call from SSG Tomas. He's playing a trivia game tonight and he wanted to give me a head's up that I'm expected to spent time on Google finding answers for him. He also demanded that I write about it. If you were playing a trivia game somewhere in Phoenix, and one of your opponents kept yelling into his phone, that's because he was calling me.**

I enjoy taking the time to put my thoughts into words. Even if they're dull thoughts and even duller words. This is something I'm going to keep doing because it's enjoyable, and I think even beneficial. The story of military recruiting, and Army recruiting in particular, is mostly told only through the media. And it's a story that only gets out when a juicy soundbite is available. No matter how many recruiters do the right thing and work hard to put fully qualified people into the Army, the story always becomes "recruiters lie".

At this time it seems that recruiting is succeeding. The mission is achievable and, I think, many commands are on track to get it done this year. This is an amazing story. We're moving towards the sixth year of active, world-wide combat using an all-volunteer force. Not a day goes by where there isn't a story about a servicemember dying in combat. There are multiple, slick, well-funded campaigns designed to discourage enlistment into the armed forces. Major celebrity figures speak constantly about how wrong the actions being done by our armed forces are. And yet through all that, 10s of thousands of people volunteer to serve. Some of whom work themselves ragged trying to get into that uniform.

Is that a story that gets told?

Or does the local network affiliate send fake prospects into the recruiting station wearing a wire and a camera trying to catch a juicy quote?

Anyways, it's late, I'm expecting a call from SSG Tomas and I probably have to help SGT Cheeks kill some gnolls in Blackburrow.

Missed y'all.


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