Lessons from Louisiana

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.

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