You saved me, every bit of me. It’s what I needed, not so much what I wanted. I Joined at the age of 17, people often ask “why?” but how do I even begin to answer that? I joined because I was running, I did it for my grandma who had passed, I did it because I needed structure, I did it because I just did it. There are so many reasons why I chose the path I chose but that’s another story for another day, this is about the despair I felt after running off.
Basic training is NOT that serious, let’s be real in the past decades the Army has changed drastically. I shipped out in 2014 after signing my life away in 2013, BT (basic training) is mostly all mental not so much physical. I remember a drill sergeant telling us “YOU DON’T COME TO THE ARMY TO GET FIT, YOU GET FIT AND THEN COME TO THE ARMY” I used to think “why not? all we do is work out.” but now I get it, they break you down mentally and build you back up as a form of instilling discipline and respect. The only seriously hard part for me was that I had a fractured hip and refused medical attention because I wanted to “be done with this
sh*t“, okay I know most people are thinking “basic? easy? who do you think you are? GI effin’ jane??”, if only you knew how it really is nowadays.. our drill sergeants couldn’t swear at us, shark attack was a big no no and we weren’t allowed to be overworked to a point of “kill me”. I was recently told by a new recruit who just got out of training that “it was super easy dude, we had stress cards just incase someone was feeling super stressed out with the training” what? Did you just effin’ call me dude, I wanted to knife hand this child in the throat.
Anyways, let me tell you about AIT (Advanced Individual Training). AIT is where a new recruit goes after passing BT, where you learn the skills to perform your Army job/career. I was placed in good ol’ Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. My training there was only 8 weeks, perks of being dental I guess, but we got stuck an additional two weeks because of the stupid ice storm we had in Oklahoma months ago at the beginning of BT which held us back on a lot of things, like having to wait for our classes to start in AIT.
Lets get to the despair part, before we got to AIT we were told how pleasant it was, you still had to work your behind off but you had partial freedom. You were allowed to go out on weekends, go to the Air Force pool/gym, order food, you can smoke tobacco etc. guess what? None of that was allowed for us, Why? We got placed in Charlie company, the most strict company apart from the whiskeys (Combat medics). You want to run three to five miles every other day and /muscle failure drills on the days we didn’t run? come on over to Charlie company.
My first roommates we ok at first, we didn’t talk much, one girl was ‘split option’ which means you go to BT, pass, go back to school and finish, then you get shipped off to AIT. This girl thought she was tough because she had been to her monthly drills so basically she was ‘seasoned’. My other roommate was a bit older maybe mid-thirties, she was a mom so she had this annoying tendency to treat you like a child even if you were almost the same age. The three of us had issues and they formed an alliance against me and tried to torment me, so I requested to be moved to a new room.
My second set of roommates were the most amazing people I have ever met, both my age and both willing to help me cope. Cope with what you ask? well, once upon a time I was engaged (super long-term, more of a promise) to this guy who I thought was my whole life, two weeks into AIT I found out he cheated and I left him. I was depressed, all that trust and faith I had invested in him and our relationship was crushed to pieces, I had no motivation to finish what I had started.
You saved me, you told me to use this as motivation to get home and show him what he lost. You helped me believe that I was stronger than him, and that now that I was single I had nothing to lose. How were you so strong? you had so much crap of your own to deal with, but still you made it your mission to save me and I love you for that. This amazing girl was by my side for all of AIT she made me happy, showed me that sometimes it was okay to bend the rules just know which ones to bend and don’t get caught.
You saved me, you taught me not to give a damn about what people think and how to have fun. You showed me that it was okay to be me, we were both dealing with tough things and I think having someone who ‘got it’ to talk to helped us both, whether it was manipulating the navy guys to get us smokes or cutting our hair the same way and calling each other Yin and Yang, or me putting Aloe Vera gel on your arms and legs because you got severe sunburn. We just had that natural bond and nobody could separate us, I loved that.
you saved me, and I saved you. I won’t lie, I had the biggest crush on you but we were both going through so much that I never said anything. I don’t know if it was that big goofy smile of yours, the way you just had to make me smile when I was upset or if it was the pain in your eyes that I could completely relate to. I had to get you to be happy, that was my daily mission. The picture on the left was your birthday, I remember because I secretly brought my phone with me even though it wasn’t allowed, I also got you that damn Cinnabon that I tried so hard to get to you. You almost gave up on me and I wasn’t going to let that happen so I couldn’t let go, maybe I held on a little too tight but I don’t regret it. I ‘ll keep sending you cat memes till the day I die as long as you’re happy, you love that about me.
You saved me, my brother from another mother. Although the military has its rules and standards when it comes to males and females interacting in a training environment, we were inseparable. The funniest and sweetest man I have ever known, you kept me on my toes, there wasn’t a day in class that I didn’t laugh. You always had my back, kept me safe from the ‘boys who only wanted one thing’. We were a team, I always wish I had an older brother and you showed me what that was like. I seriously don’t understand why we haven’t seen each other for so many years seeing as you only live two states away. You were there for me when I needed a shoulder to cry on, I love you for that.
For the soldiers I did not show here, but also helped me push through a point in my life which I found to be strenuous, know that I acknowledge your effort and success when it came to making it your mission to help me all while going though issues of your own, just know I love you for that.