Well, it has been almost a year since I have been back from Afghanistan now. I can say with a degree of confidence that I am fully reintegrated back into society. I know that I am not, and will never be, the same person that I was when I left, but I feel that the work ethic and sense of purpose that I developed over there has outpaced some of the more negative change that I and others observed when I first got back.
My aforementioned two-month training exercise in Louisiana was my first time back in the field since I have been back. True, we went on short day-long field exercises and conducted some ranges, but this was both my, and most of my Soldier’s first big field exercise in quite a while.
In a way, I am glad that I had two months down in Louisiana. I had plenty of time to refocus and remember how much I love spending time in the field. It’s true that I didn’t get back until three days before my wedding, but the skills and motivation that I gleaned from the experience made the additional stress that I incurred *almost* worth it. What was worth it was the rapport that I gained with my Soldiers. Even though I am being reassigned in less than a month, I finally got a little of what I felt on deployment back, which was good.
I was the only member of my battalion to be assigned to the unit that I am currently in, since my entire brigade was inactivated right after we got back from Afghanistan so that we could blow more money on ridiculous bullshi- focus, Steve, focus. Losing the sense of camaraderie that I felt with my Forward Observers and the members of my old company bothered me more than I realized. I will admit now that I may have insulated myself from the Soldiers and Officers that I found myself working with more than I should have, and finally took steps to change that fact.
I stayed in my initial job as a Lieutenant for two years, but that was an aberration. Generally, a Lieutenant is lucky to hold the same position for a year. As such, I will be moving on again here in a few months. Once again, I will be an outsider in a new battalion where no one knows me, my successes, or my failures. I will work hard to make sure that I do not make the same mistakes again.