Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Day Away From Joining The Army

In 1997 I was coming out of a relationship that was pretty negative. I was 19 and super lonely and confused, about life, about myself, about what to do next. I brainstormed. I knew I could continue college but I didn't know what I wanted to do and thus did not want to go to school to pursue a degree just because. Plus I was battling through emotional issues that come when you grow up in a codependent household. I honestly wasn't sure I had it in me to even finish anything in my life at that point. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to join the United States Army. I didn't come to this conclusion overnight necessarily I kind of always had it in the back of my head as an alternative to a traditional job/career.

I talked to my dad about it, he was ecstatic. He was in the Army and in the Navy and would've still been if complications wouldn't have risen. He's all about the Armed Forces and proudly wears tattoos of his designations or titles on his arms via tattoos. He served in the Vietnam War. He was apart of the Special Forces and parachuted in. My mom and him lived in Germany for a while and had my sister while there. He was also stationed in the Philipines and in Okinawa, Japan. I recall stories about his experiences in these places while growing up.

My parents left Germany at some point and then my dad was stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama. My parents were to catch a plane back to Columbus, Ohio while my mom was pregnant with me. The blizzard of 1977-1978 prevented them from flying into Columbus and then my mom went into labor and had me in a hospital on a Peanut Farm.

My dad joined the Navy after he resigned (was forced to resign) from the Army. We moved to Pensacola, Florida and lived there while my dad was a Welder with the Sea Bees.

Some of my uncles were in the military too.

Both of my dads brothers were in the Army for a while. And two of my mom's brothers were in the Army. My moms brothers, Uncle Munk and Uncle Bill just recently in the last 10 years retired from the Army. I believe they served 20 years each.

So I'm somewhat familiar and have been my whole life with the miliary. At the time when I was contemplating joining the military I figured it would be a way that I could travel, see the world. I thought it could get me away from my family, I don't hate them, but I needed space desperately. I had a few fears though. One being that I was afraid I would be able to handle someone telling me what to do. I was also fearful of the unknown and also of having my ass kicked repeatedly over and over. But regardless of my fears I went to a military recruiting center and signed up.

Over a course of a couple of weeks I took a bunch of tests and had a lot of physical exams to check hearing, vision, etc.

I eventually ran into a snag that almost prevented me from joining. When I was 15 I was admitted into a hospital for teens who had eating disorders, suicidal thoughts or tendencies, and/or drug issues. I had all the above. I was counseled while in there by a licensed Psychiatrist. At one point, I was in the process of being discharged and I knew I couldn't leave. I felt so safe while there and I could feel myself breaking from the destructive patterns and meanness of my family home. So I climbed on the bathroom sink in my private room, ripped down the flourescent lightbulb and used an inkpen to jab through the protective plastic surrounding it. I slammed the bulb against the floor and then took a piece of the glass and sliced my arm with it. I was kept for another 3 weeks.

Back to joining the going through the process of joining the Army my medical records had to be scoured and checked out. They came across my history of being admitted into the hospital and that I had cut myself. Unfortunately instead of the Psychiatrist writing that I had cut my arm he wrote that I had slit my wrists. Now I know both of those are horrible. I hope my kids don't go through this and I grieve for my young 15 year old self, but I believe that those two scenarios on paper communicate something a bit different. This set my date of joining the military back a few weeks. I sought out the Psychiatrist who had written these words on my medical charts. I also sought out how to appeal to have my records corrected with the accurate information. But all of this was really a waste of time, they didn't seem to care. And they told me it would "drop off" or become negligent in a year (some sort of dropoff period on medical records, seems your deemed "sane" after 5 years.)

At any rate, during this time period I was living with 6 girls and I had just met the Huz. The women I lived with really didn't want me to go to the Army and thus ended up talking me out of it. When all the paperwork got situated, I was 1 day away from officially signing and thus being sent to boot camp in North Carolina or in Colorado...crazy! My how things change. I still have thoughts currently of "what if".

I got engaged and married within the next year.


Aliceson said...

Wow! That was a roller coaster ride to read, I couldn't imagine living it!

I think one of the big problems with the current health care system is the poor record keeping practices. There is a BIG difference between cutting your arm (albeit on purpose) and slitting your wrists. Your story of medical records inaccuracy is not rare, I am sure.

Momma Bear said...

it was kind of rough to write this. but yeah I'd imagine that's true about med records.

Shady Lady said...

Oh my, you have been through some stuff! I imagine it was quite emotional to relive it here. Thank you so much for sharing such a private part of yourself.

Sheila said...

holy cow!!!! We might've not EVER had you as a blogging buddy! :( That is so sad....

Momma Bear said...

i know this was heavy ya'll. It took a lot to write it. But I'm trying to be straight here and not worry about judgement.
Take Care!

Shady Lady said...

Well, I think you totally rock! I appreciate you sharing this. ((((hugs))))

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

Oh my goodness. But it is interesting to think about how one decision changes so much.

jenny mae. said...

oh beth bless you for your honesty. i could definitely share some stories. i am really glad your life has brought you here!!