Right after we started classes, we had a “mandatory fun” day of visiting the Army Medicine Museum here on Ft. Sam. There was of course much whining and complaining (and unfortunately, the very well-informed gentleman that gave us our tour sort of epitomized the reason people hate museums with his looooong drawn out explanations), but it was actually pretty cool to see. I took a bunch of pictures, and I’m excited to have some to share since usually I can’t post pics of anything here. Sorry for all the glare on some of the pics, all I have is my iPhone! I’m having some trouble with the editor here, so sadly you’ll have to do without captions. Most of them are pretty self explanatory though, I think.
Have we really only been back for two and a half weeks? It feels like forever ago already. Like I’ve already said, they keep us super busy.
The Monday after we got back, we had the mass drug test everyone was waiting for. Hello, 3:00 a.m. wakeup. Then we sat around for hours waiting for all 300 of us to go pee. Which, if you were like me and decided NOT to go when you first got up, meant you were in agony by the time 9:00 a.m. rolled around and it still wasn’t your turn. Lesson learned. Haha.
Then we jumped right back into EMT classes and have been going strong ever since. This is speed learning at it’s finest. We’re halfway through the standard, civilian EMT class, which means that we also certified in CPR (that was last week). I’ve been certified for about the past 6 years, but I swear every time I go through the class they’ve changed something. So that was good, and it was really nice to have a couple days of information that was pretty much all review for me. Time to breathe!
Also, unknown to most of us, this course has one of the highest wash-out rates in the army (aside from all the special forces/ranger/that kind of stuff). They give you more than one chance to make it through, but at this point it looks like about a quarter of my original company will be academically recycled. That’s a pretty sobering reality. I think a lot of people didn’t realize just how serious they were about it until our last test, which was yesterday. And suddenly it was very, very real. For those with a GPA high enough – 65-70% – they will just be put into the next company to start 68W training. For anyone with a GPA below 65% – they’ll be kissing 68W goodbye and praying the army has another job for them.
A lot of the people leaving us are good soldiers, they just struggle academically. I’m sorry to see them go but I’m glad a lot of them are getting a second chance. My roomie is one of them and I’m going to miss her a lot! We’ll still live in the same building but it’s not the same.
We have a 3-day weekend this weekend, and for everyone that passed the PT test, is doing well in class, and doesn’t have any negative counselings (i.e., you haven’t been late for formation, brought your cell phone to class, left your room unsecured, stuff like that), we get an on-post pass. Which is awesome, except I swear there’s only like 50 people out of the whole company who aren’t disqualified by one of those 3 standards. Somehow I made the cut, so I’m gonna go find me a new pair of boots this weekend! These standard-issue ones have killed my feet every since I first got them (a year ago now, holy crap). So it’s about time!
I have one thing to say about AIT: they keep you so busy you don’t have time to think about much else! Besides Basic, I’ve never had so little free time. It’s not stressful in the same way Basic was, but the run-run-run pace of every day and the huge information dump is a whole new brand of stress. We’ve had a few people wash out already, and after our next (4th) test, more will be academically recycled if their GPA isn’t high enough by then.
We have to be in formation at 0435 for accountabiity, and PT starts at about 0500. We go straight to breakfast from PT (marching past the Air Force and Navy barracks that are just maybe-kinda-sorta thinking about waking up), all nasty and sweaty. Then at about 0700 we get back to our barracks for a shower and uniform change before forming up to march to class at 0750. Class is from about 0815 to 1715 every day. Then we march to dinner, and FINALLY get back to our barracks around 1900, if we’re lucky. Final formation at 2000 (the purpose of which I have yet to understand since we JUST HAD end of day formation an hour or less before…but whatever). Then we have our own time, however long we can stay awake to study in our rooms. I’m usually in bed by 2200, since I’m one of those people that just. can’t. function. on much less than 6 hours of sleep. I don’t know how some of these people are doing it, staying up till midnight or later. Personally I think it’s counterproductive. You might be studying, but your brain doesn’t work as well and at that point you’re no longer raising your GPA. My theory seems to be right, at least in part, because I see a lot of our night owls failing exams. Of course there are other factors in that, but you better believe I’m getting my 6 hours of sleep every night I can.
In case you’re wondering, I only had time to write this because today’s class was CPR, which I’ve had about 6 times since high school. Kinda nice to have a night “off.”
When you want something really badly, the thought of failure turns your stomach even more than usual.
After months of doing paperwork, I finally have a date for MEPS. And a date for everything else, if all goes well there. In less than 12 weeks, I could be on my way to basic training. I have a 68w airborne slot. I don’t think for a second it’s going to be easy. It’s going to be hard and it’s going to take everything I’ve got and then some. It’s going to scare the living daylights out of me.
I love that feeling. The slightly queasy, heart-racing, time slowing down feeling. I could live just chasing that feeling, because it’s in moments like that I feel most alive and I know that this, right here right now, is what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve been told that’s a classic adrenaline junkie attitude, but I don’t think I’m that crazy or that brave. I just want to live every second of life to the fullest. I want to help people. I want to have adventures. I want to be 80 years old looking back at all the things I did, not wondering what might have happened if I’d been a little less careful.
All that sounds really simple and idealistic, I know. In all honesty I really don’t care. I know reality, whatever it actually is, will slap me in the face soon enough. I know that I really don’t know what I’m getting into. I’m ok with that. I’ve spent years wishing I’d done this sooner. Years wondering what would happen if I tried. No matter what comes out of MEPS, or basic, or any of the training after that, having that question answered will be worth it. No one said chasing dreams was easy.
All that aside, I really wish tomorrow would get here already. I just want to know for sure if I’m going to get to go or not. There’s no reason I know of that I shouldn’t. If I’m turned down, it’ll be for something well outside my control. But my stomach is still in knots. Fingers crossed for an actual contract signed by the end of this week.