Saturday, October 2, 2010

The 40-Hour Day

Most people in America, if they are lucky to have a full time job, work an average of 40 hours a week. Sure there is the occasional day they may have to put in a little overtime or take some work home to make sure they meet a deadline, but for the most part they know they will be gainfully employed from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

The Soldier doesn’t work a 40-hour week. They start their day at 5am and may not get home until 6pm. This is an average day for most, it doesn’t include those in the combat zone or being on shift for 24 hours straight pulling guard much less going to the field for weeks at a time. These hours don’t even take into consideration those in leadership positions who show up before their Soldiers arrive and stay long past the hours Soldiers go home at night.


0415- wake up to shower, dress and grab a quick bite to eat

0450- take off from home to walk to work (I get to enjoy a few minutes to myself in the peaceful early morning and mentally prepare for the day)

0500- depart the battalion to drive up to Kunsan Air Base where one of our units is located

0730- call for directions because we have gotten lost on the Korean roads

0800- stop at a rest stop to call for more directions and get gas because we still don’t know where we are

0815-start heading back to base because we should have gotten on a highway we passed over an hour ago

0900- finally back on track to Kunsan

1025- arrive at Kunsan Air Base

1030- begin a brief to the unit in Kunsan with instruction on the command inspection we will be performing

1100- begin inspection, unfortunately the unit fails miserably

1200- go to the BX for lunch and exploring

1330- take off back to Camp Carroll

1645-arrive back at the battalion, thankfully didn’t get lost this time

1650- start going through the 30+ emails in my inbox I received in the past 9 hours

1800- brief the commander on the results of the inspection

1930- start my walk home

1934- receive a call from my boss asking who the officer on duty tonight was, I didn’t recall off the top of my head but it was someone who was excused from duty

1937- arrive back at work to begin my overnight shift as I chose to cover for the guy who couldn’t do it

1940-back in my office to try and accomplish work on my shift

2230- go on my rounds to check the barracks and motor pool

2330- try and take a nap


0130- get up for my next set of rounds, its peaceful to walk around at night while the base sleeps

0230- lay back down on my couch for another nap

0600- get up, freshen up and start working

0800- go to another inbrief for the inspection of the day

0820- sneak away to get some coffee

0900- stuck in the office working, it is becoming a long day already

1030- inspect the next unit, they pass based on my good graces

1300- go to a training meeting, I am the only staff officer to show up because the rest were doing there inspections

1301- I think to myself I should have scheduled my inspection during the meeting…bummer

1400- leave the meeting and head back to the my office

1604- caffeine run for a Mountain Dew

1800- outbrief to the commander about the days inspection

1945- finally on my way home

1953- stop at Subway for some food

2010- get to take off my uniform J

2030- unwind with some food and TV

2137- receive a call from a special someone back in the states

2304- lay my head down on my pillow

2305- SLEEP


0450- Alarm goes off , I get up, dress and head to the 0530 formation….and it all starts again

This week was one of the busiest and longest weeks of my life. Well maybe not but it feels like it right now. Heading home Friday night at 1940, I did the math in my head and counted 85+ hours I spent at work this week, just what I need at the age of 25, two full time jobs. Sometimes I look at my paycheck and think I make quite a bit for what I do. Not that I am complaining but I get paid salary and if I then try and figure out my hourly wage it turns out its not too much…oh well such is the life of the Soldier. We don’t do it for the money.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hiatus Complete

September 26, 2010

For those of you who still faithfully check to see if a new blog post is available, I thank you for your dedication and patience with my life. It has been weeks since I have posted and I only have myself to blame. I would love to catch you up on everything from these past two or three weeks but to be honest I can't remember a lot. Although work is different every day it still seems to have become monotonous as the little details of the days run together. Meetings take up a majority of my day and the rest is spent catching up on the work I haven't been able to do because I am stuck in meetings. Nonetheless I enjoy the fast pace and the constant business because it makes the days fly by as they have recently.

I am now a month and a half into this short tour in Korea and I find myself looking forward to the months rapidly passing by and getting back to Minnesota for a few weeks in May before finishing up my last months here. There are some distinct differences in this unit from the other two that I have been in that bring up many challenges but I find myself beginning to adapt and as many learn in the military it is easier to not question and just follow along with the craziness that comes out. This all may sound rather cryptic re-reading it but hopefully after hearing other stories from my siblings you all are halfway understanding what I am saying.

On a completely different note let me tell you all what I have been up to the last few days and what this upcoming week looks like for me. Even though I have been in the military for over 7 years now, I still find myself having firsts. I have recently begun to take part in my first set of command inspections. Now I know these must have happened in my last units but I can't remember them or wasn't part of them, who knows. But basically for those of you who are not military, command inspections happen at all levels of command to make sure everything is being run according to regulation and policy. Right now we are doing battery/company inspections at my unit so as a staff member I go down to those levels and inspect and grade on how they are operating their personnel management and records. Simultaneously, other staff sections are checking on safety, supply, maintenance, training, and security just to name a few. But let me give you a run down of what these days look like for myself.

Last Thursday was our first inspection. It was for our Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB), on a side note I am in this battery so not only was I inspecting but I was inspected as a Soldier. The morning began with a 0515 accountability formation. This was interesting because over a third of the battery had left last week since their one year tour was competed but they were still on our rosters since they haven't checked into their next units yet for the most part. Once we figured out who was there and if anyone was really missing, we separated the group into those that had medical profiles (meaning they have some medical issue that excludes them from some physical activity) and those who would be taking part in the 4-mile run. At 0600 about half of our battery left on a 4-mile run that we needed to complete in 36 minutes or less as a group. For those of you not well versed in math that is a 9 minute mile. To me this didn't seem like it would be that great of a challenge but apparently not many people run distances during their PT time in the morning. We took off at a strong pace and it seemed after we were halfway done our group had split in half. Camp Carroll is a very hilly area but surprisingly the route we took only had two or three hills, so I thought it was relatively easy but it seemed to be a challenge for many others. At the end we arrived back to the battalion at 33:20 minutes, by 36 minutes 66 of the 83 we started out with had crossed the line however the goal of having 90% finish at 36 minutes was not achieved. But I was proud to say almost all of the Soldiers in my section finished on time!

After the run, I ran (yes I continued to run) back home to shower and change into my Class A uniform. This is my dress uniform. I was hoping to wear my blues but I had found out the day prior that we were all suppose to be in pants. I had yet to purchase the pants for my blues because I like the skirt better and I think the pants are extremely ugly and unflattering. To tell you the truth I was hoping to scape by the next two years without ever having to buy them. This posed a problem for Thursday morning, so I had to pull out my Class A greens and put on all my ribbons and such while also trying to iron them to get out al the wrinkles from the trip here. Had I known I needed pants I would have gotten them pressed but I had to make do with what I had, so I borrowed an iron and went to work. Putting on my greens I also had to sew on my new unit patch. Again normally I would have brought in my jacket to have the patch sewn on but I had to rely on my own homemaker skills to sew myself. With all this stress the night before inspection it was surprising I didn't have a breakdown, just kidding. So anyways I had a little less then an hour to shower, change and get back up to the battalion for an in-brief at 0800. Of course I rock at getting ready super fast so I even managed to stop for coffee on the way back up there.

At 0830 we had our in-ranks inspection. Ironic to the facts I just told you in the previous paragraph, many females did have skirts on, but at least I fit in with the guidance I was given. Oh well. The Battalion Commander, Command Sergeant Major and Sergeant Major went through the ranks inspecting all the Soldiers uniforms and making them random questions on basic Soldier knowledge. This meant I was standing in formation for almost an hour, luckily the heat has passed for the most part and no one passed out. The officers were the last inspected and despite throwing everything together last minute, the commander just told me I should probably go get my uniform pressed again, but other than that he said I looked good. He had a lot to say to some of the other officers, luckily I used a ruler for setting up my uniform so it looked better then those who eyeballed the measurements.

We were finally release around 1000 to go change and get on with our day. In the afternoon I went down to the HHB's orderly room to inspect their personnel files and records. My trusty NCO came with me and explained to me what to look for and how they have done them in the past. After about 30 minutes we were finished and gave the battery a satisfactory rating. They had what they needed for the most part but with all the Soldiers who have left recently, many rosters and such weren't completely up to date. But they did very well.

After getting back to my office I got to fill out their evaluation and make some powerpoint slides for the brief we would be having later to discuss all the inspections that occurred. So at 1800 we all gathered in the conference room to brief the battalion commander on how the different sections did. As the S1 section I always get to go first so I was up and back down in my seat within 3 minutes. I like to get right to the point and be sitting back down before I get asked anything I don't know. Its a good strategy I think, less is more! After an hour we were all finished and I arrived back home around 7:30 or so. What a long day!

Minus the run and in ranks inspection I got to do the same thing on Friday and will get to do the same thing Monday through Thursday of next week. Monday I get to go to Kunsan Air Base where one of our batteries is located. This means I get to leave here at 0500 and not get back until 9 or 10 tomorrow night! Oh I can't wait...haha.

So that is my life this week. Despite the long hours I am excited to go to another base tomorrow for a change of pace.

If you have read this, I am back in the blogging mindset so feel free to tune in on a regular basis.

More to follow later.....

Moving Day

September 6, 2010

I know what you are all thinking, “why hasn’t Allison blogged in a few days?” I apologize for keeping you all in suspense but I have a very good reason for my tardiness. I have finally moved!! After having lived in Army hotels/barracks for the last 8 months of my life, I finally have a place to call my own, that is for the next 11 months at least.

Friday morning I had an appointment with the housing office here at Camp Carroll to sign all the paperwork and get the key to my new living quarters. I had no idea when I was going to be able to fit in this important event into my schedule that day. After arriving at work early to prepare for the weekly training and staff meeting, I was soon bombarded by my boss with at least three projects for the day besides for my normal craziness. That night we were having our monthly Hail and Farewell party to welcome the new people and say goodbye to those leaving in the next month. Apparently it was my job to send out and collect information sheets to all the companies so they could have their people fill them out for short ceremonial aspect of the evening as well as go order plaques for those leaving who had donated money into a special fund that pays for those type of mementos. Not only was I not aware of my tasks beforehand but on the day of is surely not the time to do it all. First I had to pull up rosters of all those who were leaving and had come so I could make a list to send to the commander, then I sent out the email to the company commanders requesting their participation in having their people fill out the information cards only to immediately receive at least two responses saying “we don’t do this anymore.” However the genius that I am I CC’ed my boss on this email so at least she knew I was doing my part whether or not they complied was now on them. All in all I received two cards and one was my own. Later I went to plaque shop on post to order two plaques, luckily they were same day pick-up, unluckily when we took them out of the boxes that evening one of them fell apart because the glue had not dried full yet. Also ironically the “fund” used to purchase these items was recently revoked and declared illegal by the lawyer at brigade, however my boss said go get them anyway and we’ll figure out something different for next month. So unfortunately it was a tad illegal but life goes on.

While rushing to finish these projects that morning I also had to get up to our tactical center by 1030 to input numbers and names for a monthly report that goes up to the Department of the Army. Not only had I never used the system to input all the information it needed, but I had to trust that the junior enlisted soldier who pulled the data together and checked by my predecessor was accurate. If it wasn’t right it will fall back on me, but I guess its just another learning experience for this first month. At least for next time I know what to look for and what documents I need.

By the end of that report, I was already 3 hours late for my appointment at housing. I left the tactical center and headed to housing hoping they didn’t give away my place because I hadn’t shown up. I was in luck it was still there however it took almost on hour to get my key and sign the papers. The customer service there was less then to be desired.

I headed back to work to finish up other work, the went to pick up the plaques. I was happy to be leaving work at a decent hour so I could go home and perhaps shower before the evening festivities. Halfway home I got a call saying I had to return to the tactical center because something was wrong with the information I reported earlier. I finally got back there only to find out that the error was not my own but the captain was reading it wrong. As I left it was five minutes to 6pm, did I mention the event started at 6? So I rushed back to the hotel to change and get over there, I ended up only being 10 minutes late so not too bad considering.

The Hail and Farewell was alright, we had great food and the company was great but then the ceremony part started. I was the first one up to be hailed to the unit. My boss introduced me and after saying my name the first thing that she chose to announce was that I was single, to which immediately a smart ass sitting in the front row shouted “me too” and I then turned bright red. However I was asked to explain how I have the last name Chan, to which I gave my classic response, “I was adopted by an Asian couple.” At this point everyone started at me in an ironical way, and I got “oh really, interesting,” as a comment. I then said I was kidding and everyone burst into laughter and I think I made a good first impression to all those who had yet to meet me. Everyone loves jokes! There ceremony part continued for another 2 hours. Can I just wow some people are talkers? It probably would have been more fun if I knew people better to understand what they were talking about in their farewell speeches, or if I understood any of the unit’s inside jokes that were told but I did not. I did have a couple of guys new to the unit as well standing by me all wishing it would end so at least misery had company, just kidding.

After finally arriving back the hotel at 10pm, I packed up and called a cab to move me to my new place. I threw everything in and headed back to the hotel so I could go to bed because the next morning I had to wake up early to drive up to Osan for another work project. Finally that next day after getting home around 4pm I was able to unpack and slightly settle in. The rest of my stuff will get here in about a week so it is still quite bare. All in all it’s decent for military living. I have a living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. I also lucked out that the laundry room is my neighbor so not too far to go for that. My only complaint is the walls. Why must I live in a place with concrete walls? And who would choose to paint them yellow with brown doors and trim on the windows? Hopefully once I get a few rugs and put some posters on the walls it will look more homey! Maybe once I get out of the Army I will try and get a contracting job to be the interior designer to Army housing.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

But I still Love Technology

Of course Kip said it best in the ending scene of Napoleon Dynamite..."I love technology." I have to be honest I am addicted to the modern world's comforts when it comes to technology. This move to Korea has been a difficult transition technology-wise for me. But today it seemed like everything started to fall into place.

After my glorious 4-day weekend, I arrived at work this morning around 6:30 for my first promotion ceremony as an adjutant. One of the cool parts of my job is getting to read the order aloud that promotes a soldier, it is on behalf of the Secretary of the Army, so pretty big deal right? Well anyways today being the 1st of the month, there were 4 officers in my battalion who were promoted from first lieutenant to captain. Usually this kind of ceremony takes place at a 9am formation but one particular lieutenant wanted his family to be a part of this milestone in his career. He is however serving an unaccompanied tour in Korea, meaning his family did not come here with him. To be a part of the day, his family drove to Fort Hood and were set up with a unit there who set up a video tele-conference with my unit so that his family could be there. This also explains the need for an early day for us due to the time difference. It was really special to be a part of the day for them. And again makes me appreciate technology that gives soldiers like myself and my brothers the chance to video chat with our loved ones on the other side of the world.

I also recently inherited a work cell phone. This has its ups and downs. Obviously its nice not to waste my minutes on work calls during the day and I don't have to give out my personal cell phone number to a large majority of people. But it of course has its downfalls because who likes to carry around two cell phones which is what I now have to do for the next year. It is cool when it goes off though, a pretty sweet ringtone if I do say so myself. I also now call it my Bat-phone. My buddy Josh is one of the officers in charge of the patriot missiles that we will launch if North Korea ever attacks so his phone he has always referred to as the bat-phone because if it goes off he'd be going in to save the planet...haha jk well kindof but when my phone rang the other day he said, is that your bat-phone? So now I have affectionately named my phone that as well!

One of the biggest frustrations I have had a work thus far is that I have not been able to get onto a computer. Not because I don't have one but because with all the security issues it is this drawn out process to get an account. Normally in the states you will be up on a system within 24 hours once you submit your paperwork to get an account, however here in Korea when your higher headquarters is three hours north and people choose to do things slow it takes one such as myself over a week. It is incredibly difficult to do a job that is computer based when you can't get onto one, especially not being up on email. But luckily my prayers were answered today and this afternoon I was up and running. Of course this means I will be at the office late for the next months because I can now actually do real work, but it is a huge relief. I am now once again connected with the world non-stop!

So all in all a successful day! I got to promote 3 officers, finished the last of my in-processing, got on a computer. I am now officially in business!

On a side note I also was taken out on a date last night by a nice guy at my unit who brought me to a Korean BBQ restaurant, a great whole in the wall place, where they didn't speak a lick of English. It was absolutely delicious and I have no idea what half the stuff I ate was. I took my shoes off as soon as I entered the restaurant and sat on the floor with a table where your food cooks right in front of you. Finally had my first real cultural eating experience! Plus I had a date, can we all marvel at that for a moment...haha! Got to love Korea!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Night Life

Upon having my first 4-day weekend here in Korea, I ventured with a few of the officers at my unit who decided to take me under their wing. One night these three young captains gave me a call and told me they were going up to Daegu to stop at the big PX and go grab dinner somewhere. We departed Waegwan at 3:30pm and didn't find our way home until 3:30a.m. It was quite an interesting night to say the least.

Two of the captains I traveled with are new to the unit, like myself, while the other is getting ready to leave in about three weeks, so he volunteered to show us all around. After driving in a car through 45 minutes of traffic, which let me say is scarier in a car then on a bus like I have been riding on in my past trips, we finally made it to base. After a quick stop we departed the base and went to park in downtown. As we got out and started walking, I began to see just how big the city is and how much downtown has to offer. Every building seemed to be either a bar, a restaurant or a clothing/shoe store. There also seemed to be just as much in varieties of restaurants as you see in the states. Thai, Chinese, Sushi, Italian, Mexican, and American food with of course many Korean restaurants as well, lined the streets. We went to a place called the Holy Grail which is a restaurant owned by some folks from Canada who serve Tex-Mex food, I know very random but it was pretty delicious so I was satisfied.

After dinner we went out walking and low and behold we come to a small little walk up beverage stand. However this isn't any ordinary beverage stand it, it is one that serves the equivalent of adult Capri Sun's. For only 4,000 wan, which is about $3.75 you can get your very own custom made cocktail in a clear plastic bag with a straw stuck out the top just like a Capri Sun. Once you get your beverage you taste it and if it is not strong enough they add more liquor into it free of charge. And with no open container or public intoxication laws people can just walk around all night with their drink. This concept was pretty crazy to me, but my friends were adamant about bringing the concept back to the states to make a profit.

We soon made our way to a small little bar, probably only able to fit about 30 people. The great thing about this bar was that they have games to play...that's right while you sit there and sip on your cosmo, or beverage of choice you can play the great game of Jenga! Not going to lie, I was definitely the champion at my table, never losing a game all night which is amazing with my shaky hands but I am too competitive to lose. At this point I had one of the most, memorable things of my life happen to me I think. This group of 4 Korean girls came in and sat at the table next to ours. After a few minutes they pulled out a birthday cake for one of the girls and as they lit a candle for her to make a wish, a happy birthday song began to play in the bar. This wasn't just any happy birthday song though, it was the 1991 rendition of Happy Birthday that the New Kids on the Block sing. Not only do I love that band but besides for a tape my sister and I had growing up I don't think I have ever heard it played anywhere. They guys I was with thought I was crazy as I broke into song but I couldn't pass the moment up so I belted every high note along with Jordan Knight and felt truly happy! And just when you think the night couldn't have gotten any better, the girls leaned over and gave us a huge piece of their cake to share! I love Korea!

A little while later we traveled to a more "American/military" bar, where you guessed it the majority of the people there were soldiers. But still it was nice, it reminded me of a bar in a college town back home and wait for it...they played only 80's songs. Again such a great night! After awhile I had to go outside to get some air cause it was packed in that place, and as I was walking out the next surprise of my night came. Standing in front of me was this guy Tony, he was a lieutenant at my unit from Fort Hood. He was one of the guys that was a part of my pseudo family there. This was just unbelievable to me, here we are half way around the world in a city of over 6 million people at some random bar and I run into a buddy. I mean I know the Army is small but what a night!

Before driving home we also ran into one of the largest bachelor parties I have ever seen. The way we knew the party was so big was that each guy out had a t-shirt with the bachelor's picture on it. Turned out it was a whole group of ESL teachers from Seoul who had come down for the weekend party. They were from all over the states and Canada so it was fun to talk to them as well. We were invited to tag along to their next spot but seeing how it had somehow become 3am we decided it was probably time to head back.

So off we went...a two hour trip turned into 12 but it was a fun time had by all. The rest of my vacation days have been spent sleeping, doing laundry, spending a few hours at the office, and watching season 1 of How I met Your Mother...thank goodness for only three days of work this week and then wait for it....another 4-day vacation for Labor Day! Can't wait :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Learning to Read

August 27, 2010

I have to say that jumping into this new job at the time I am, has been one of the biggest learning experiences in my life. Most of the time in my life when I have had to learn a great deal of information it usually takes place in a classroom environment. The good thing about the classroom environment is that there is a significant period of time set aside for you to learn. Unfortunately I have not had this luxury in my new job. Yes I did learn about some of the aspects of my job in a classroom but we barely scratched the service of what it means to be a Human Resources Officer. And I am in an interesting position now because I have been placed in a job that is made for a captain, a captain would have had a least three years of experience to get to that rank in this field so you can see the challenges I face having no years of experience in this field.

So I am definitely learning a lot about systems, promotions, evaluations, reporting numbers along with other random things specific to my unit. I have also had many firsts in this past week and will continue to have them in the next year, just today I had my first command and staff meeting where I briefed the commander on my sections updates for the week, I had my first dress rehearsal for an officers' promotion ceremony in which I will get to perform my duties as the adjutant by calling everyone to attention and reading the order to promote the officers, and I also had my first experience in being the right hand of the executive officer in my unit when she called me to take her place in briefing all the staff duty officers on their duties this weekend. These were all good firsts and I feel like I am starting to get a hang of things but these next two weeks will be trying as I will be expected to know more and be the subject matter expert on everything involving personnel.

Well besides for all that boring work stuff I am learning a lot more. Throughout this past week I have gotten to learn about my staff. I have 14 soldiers and one civilian who work in my section. I was extremely blessed to be assigned to a unit with a knowledgeable and great leader as my highest enlisted soldier who is the non-commissioned officer (NCO) in charge. He basically runs the day to day operations that all the enlisted soldiers do for the unit. He has been a huge help and we get along fairly well. I have faith that he will steer me in the right direction in the next months. There are two other NCO's in my section as well, they also help in directing operations and looking after the younger ones. There is a female staff sergeant and a male sergeant. Then there is all the junior enlisted soldiers there are 9 of them, 8 who do human resources ops and on legal specialist. They are all younger soldiers, most under 21 so they are young and vulnerable in the Army but they seem like good kids and they work really hard. Only one of them is male so there is definitely a huge disparity of males to females but that's ok. Lastly I have two Koreans on my staff. One is the civilian who is probably in his late 30's early 40's, he seems very nice and speaks English well. His actually job description is to be my personal assistant...not going to lie it feels pretty cool to not only have a staff but to have your own assistant :)

The other Korean I have a KATUSA on my staff, this is a Korean Augmented to the United States Army. One of the cool things about working in Korea is we literally work hand in hand with the South Korean Army. Every South Korean male is obligated to serve the government in some capacity for two years during a certain time frame after they turn 18. I am not clear on all the guidelines but the ones chosen to be in the Army are then evaluated further and the smartest and most literate become augmented to our units for two years. In our unit we have about 20 spread out across our companies but I am lucky enough to have one in my office. He works in the same capacity as the rest of my junior enlisted soldiers but I think it is a very unique experience for our soldiers to have.

I have a learned a great deal about all of them. About half of them are leaving in the next 4 months so I will be getting in new soldiers but I think that's a great part of my job too. Hopefully I will get to positively impact them as they come and go.

By now you have been reading for awhile and may be wondering why I titled this blog post "Learning to Read." Yesterday I was sent up to Daegu to meet some personnel folks who help us out up there, I got some good training and then had to make my way back to Camp Carroll. With all the traveling I did in the city yesterday I couldn't stop looking at all the signs. I would say there were only about 5% in English all the rest were completely Korean, which I expected when I came here but it still strikes me in an unsettling way. Not that I expect any of the signs to be in English but it is just so weird to not know what anything is because I can't read the signs. Until I stop in I wouldn't know the different between a restaurant, a bank, clothing store or strip club. It definitely makes me a lot more empathetic to those in our country who can't read or speak the language. I just wish there was a magic jacket I could wear, so I could understand everything that was said, I could speak back and I could read. Its definitely a goal to learn conversational Korean by the time I leave. Tomorrow I am heading up to Daegu with a few new friends to explore so hopefully it will give me a good chance to practice my basic Korean and learn my way around! More to come!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where do all the hours in a day go?

August 24, 2010

I now have almost two full days of work in my new office behind my belt. When I say work, it is really entailing asking hundreds of questions about what is going on, reading through different SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and Army regulations, as well as meeting separately with all my staff and bosses to find out what they do (my staff) and what they want me to do (my bosses). My counterpart for whom I am taking over had appointments at another base yesterday and spent most of today out processing different places on post so needles to say I have thought of more questions then I have had answered. But I know through the time I have spent with her, that she wants to set me up for success so basically she will be spending the next week and half with me to have our left seat- right seat/ right seat- left seat ride, as the military calls it. (I watch her drive then she watches me drive)

Although she hasn’t been around too much over the past two days I have spent my fair share of time in the office. My job in the civilian world would be a 9 to 5 job, heck there are civilians contracted by the military to do my job and they get to work 9-5 getting paid twice as much. But I have the great honor and privilege of being a soldier and the government doesn’t have to pay me by the hour like they do their contractors; overtime means nothing to us. Therefore I can be working/training from 6 in the morning when physical fitness starts up until “the end of the day” which from what I gather is never earlier then 6pm in my office. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy being in the military and I believe I will really enjoy my job but I find myself wondering over these last two days “where has all my time gone?” I get home at the end of the night, eat something, and am ready for bed so I can wake up the next day and do it all over again.

This brings back memories of classes I had in college where they constantly stressed that we had balance in our lives. They said if you spend all your time at work you will get burned out way too fast and it was unhealthy physically, emotionally, and mentally. This becomes another one of those “catch 22’s” in the military as an officer or senior enlisted. There is so much work to do that you never feel like it is finished and you constantly have your boss or someone asking you to do something for them. You want to help out your battle buddies and please your boss to remain successful but if you do this you will never have any time to yourself. To be honest I have no idea how people with families do it spending 60+ hours a week at work not to mention the occasional weekend day you have to pull duty.

I say all this, maybe for accountability that you all will make sure I am not killing myself at work but also I think I need to acknowledge that I can be in the military and have a balanced life where I still find time to do the things I like and relax. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, especially as a brand new second lieutenant working in a captain position but if there is one thing I have in life it is determination. I pledge to myself that by the end of September I will have a balanced rhythm and that everyday I begin my day with an end goal in mind and I leave when that is accomplished. It’s also a goal that I get my soldiers out at earlier times during the week for their well-beings as well as mine.

I think not just for me in the Army, but for all of those professionals in the working world we need to occasionally stop and look at our lives and make sure we are spending quality time with our family and friends as well as finding time to do what we love whether its traveling, sports, reading, art, another hobby or mixture of many things.