Excitement is rushing threw my veins as the bus that I am occupying pulls up to an old building of foreign architecture. At last, I have made it to my first duty station. Although I am the youngest on my bus at the ripe age of eighteen, I was ready to prove myself as a worthy soldier. I step off the bus in my freshly shined combat boots in a manner in which might of seemed urgent. “I am doing something with my life,” I confidently reminded myself as I grabbed my luggage from under the bus. I then was instructed to follow the line of soldiers into the building to start in processing.
I, along with thirty other soldiers wait patiently in a room that was similar to a classroom. Within moments of our arrival a civilian enters the room. “Welcome to Ansbach, Germany,” he proclaimed as he passes out a stack of paperwork that seemed to be as thick and heavy as an encyclopedia.
As the never-ending pile of paperwork is coming to completion, a voice pulls itself thru the low roar of casual conversation. “Private Sutton?” a male voice asks hesitantly. I stand up immediately taking a mental note of the rank and name displayed on his freshly pressed battle dress uniform. I immediately snapped my body to attention with my hands locked in the small of my back and my feet shoulder width apart. “Yes sergeant?” I nervously replied.
“My name is Staff Sergeant Cox and I am your sponsor,” He politely yet forcefully introduced himself.
“Nice to meet you sergeant,” I replied.
He then informed me that he is in charge of showing me around the base and introducing me to my chain of command. He then drove me to my barracks. Unfortunately, my roommate was in Kosovo and the key the first sergeant had for my room would not work! So I was informed I would be sharing a room with Specialist Jackson until my superiors can find a way to access my room.
For the rest of the days that I attended the in processing meetings, a different soldier, every day, approached me announcing their responsibility as my sponsor. As the week of countless meetings come to an end, I was finally ready to venture off to the base in which I will be working at.
Upon the arrival of my first day of work, I was greeted with the annoyance of an extremely loud alarm clock. I quickly shower and dress myself in my recently pressed uniform. I look at my reflection in the mirror as I pull my hair back with the Army regulated hair band. I want to make sure I am within all army regulations.
I then hurry to formation and find my place at the end of the squad. Just as our platoon of approximately twenty people gathered to a general location, the chatter of the soldiers was cut by the announcement from the first sergeant, “Fall in!” As the demand was given, myself along with the four different platoons snapped to attention. With my arms erect along the side of my body and my heels touching with my toes slightly pointing different directions, I await the next command. “At ease,” the first sergeant calls out. I then allowed myself to go into the relaxed position along with every person in the formation. After we are given our daily dose of company information, which is then, accompanied by the schedule of events for the day, we are released to our sections.
On many occasions I would find myself sitting in an office with no instructions. With the very minimal introductions made to me, I could not help but to sit dormant as I await my orders. Everyone would be busy at work or sneaking to his or her room for a nap. The seven-hour leap forward in time has left me consumed by exhaustion. After a couple days of sitting in my office with no instruction or guidance I would find myself easily slipping into a slumber while patiently awaiting for an order.
Although I would take out the trash and shred paperwork that needed disposed of, it was not enough. I have found myself guessing in anticipation on what would please my co-workers. Nothing seemed to help. In disregard of my efforts, I would be lectured and sometimes counseled negatively for not being more productive. Each day seemed to bring more and more lectures and ridicule. Although requested, no orders or instructions are given to me. I soon found myself feeling alone and slipping into a depression. Unaware of my depression, I would use my time after work to self medicate by indulging myself with a mixture of drinks that contained high amounts of alcohol.
I soon found myself on every job no one else in the company wanted to do. Although cleaning the first sergeant’s bathroom is not on the list of my favorite things to do, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Along with sweeping and mopping the offices, I was put on twenty-four hour duties and cleaning the rocks off of the sidewalk. Upon completion of my duties, I am told to report back to my section.
I returned to my section with an optimistic outlook. Unfortunately the more time went on the more difficult it became to keep a smile on my face. Over a few short weeks, my optimistic smile became a timid frown. Hesitant, due to my daily harassment and put downs, I pull myself out of bed in the mornings to anticipate the unwelcome greeting of my section.
As time went by, my detail duties continued to exist in my every day schedule. I am approached at times by my NCOIC (non-commissioned officer in charge) to inform me of any uniform changes or re location of the company formation. Although I was not at all a favorite in my section, I was determined to make myself worthy of their acceptance. Regretfully, the negative counseling statements made my name a permanent fixation upon the form. I constantly rewind every situation that ended up in disapproval in my mind. I am putting every effort forward to comply with the demands my NCOIC gives me. Unfortunately for some unknown reason, I am informed that I am wanted in the storage room and to wait until my NCOIC comes in to release me.
I sit in the storage room waiting with dreaded anticipation for the arrival of my NCOIC . Once again I am in disarray with my higher chain of command. I showed up to formation in the uniform instructed by my NCOIC. Unfortunately, I was the only one in that particular uniform. At last the opening and slamming of the door broke the anticipation.
“Private Sutton, You are a worthless soldier and will never amount to anything,” proclaimed my sergeant while she looks me over in disgust. “Your drill sergeants were idiots for letting you get this far,” she continued. She walks to a table that sat stationary against the wall and slammed down freshly printed negative counseling statements in front of me. Statements... Plural, for she had three of them for me to sign. When I sign these papers, it represents my acceptance of the accusations. Whether it is completely true or not.
“You gave me the wrong information sergeant!” I rebelled.
“I did no such thing! Specialist Hardial was present when you were told the information,” she replied with a shriek of anger in her voice.
Specialist Hardial? I thought to myself. She had the day off! I knew that in this dictatorship called the United States Army, my word meant nothing compared to a superior. I was just a young soldier who just has to accept any unjust accusations thrown at me.
“I will do everything in my power to put you out of the army,” announced my sergeant right before she excused herself from the room.
I sat there in disbelief, tears running down my face. I am ashamed but do not know why! I am doing everything I was instructed to do. I raised myself from my chair and looked at the signed negative counseling statements. This makes my twenty-fifth, twenty-sixth, and twenty-seventh negative counseling statements for the month.
“ When will this nightmare end?” I murmured under my breath as I exited the room.
The next day while I was taking out the trash, I was approached by my NCOIC along with my platoon sergeant. “Private Sutton, You need to come with us,” they informed me with a surprisingly happy tone in their voice. I followed my superiors to the commander’s office. As I enter the room I realize that my uniform is not as pressed as it should be and my enthusiasm for being a soldier has slowly diminished. I step into the office and see my First Sergeant and my Commander eagerly awaiting my arrival. “Private Sutton!” first sergeant announced in a joking manner. At which time they proceeded to tell me that I have been chosen to deploy to Bravo Company 2-1 Aviation regiment and help with missions in Kosovo. I have twenty-four hours before I am on the plane. I feel an urge of excitement swim through my body. I am getting away from these people. I went to my barracks room and immediately packed my bags. At last, I have a chance for a new start.