Anchors Aweigh Part 11 – A Stone’s Throw

boy throwing a stone into the water at the beach
boy throwing a stone into the water at the beach

PART 10 (click here)

So, I did check those boxes because I’m 95% honest and to ensure Big Navy that I was okay, I had to provide documentation from the respective service providers indicating I was indeed okay and fit for duty.

The counseling part was easy. I was recently in contact with my therapist and she gladly provided a clear and concise letter explaining my situation and that I was A.J. Squared Away. The kidney stone part…that caused a bit of a hold up.

First, I had to look up the hospital that I was admitted to; well, the hospital of the emergency room I was admitted to. Ugh. I still remember that time; physical pain on a scale I’ve yet to match. Finding the hospital was easy enough, but then I had to get the documentation from my visit.

I called up their records department, talked with a nice lady who was able to help me out, and actually got the records to me pretty quick. I gave them to AM1 who skimmed them and said he’d submit them and see what would happen.

Now, during this time we were also discussing job possibilities, or what rates I might try to go for. The first time we talked about it I told him about the survey I had taken on Navy.com and how it said I’d be a good photojournalist. He explained that was part of the MC rate, or Mass Communication Specialist. He asked if I was interested in it, I said kinda, but I was more interested in exploring other possibilities. He wanted me to be a Nuke, a nuclear engineer. I asked what that entailed and he explained it takes about two years of training after boot camp but that it comes with some sweet financial bonuses.

He wasn’t lying.

Looking over the literature he gave me on the subject, I was indeed tempted by the thousands of extra dollars a nuke gets, but it was very math-heavy. I hated math. I hadn’t taken math since my senior year of high school, more than 12 years. Thankfully, the cut off age was something like 25 or 26; I was about to turn 31.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Anchors Aweigh Part 10 – Hurry Up and Wait

Click here for PART 9

WARNING – things (i.e.: language) start getting a bit saltier than some may be accustomed to in here.

I'm waiting for him to get out of the way of my drawer and he's waiting for me to bugger off.
I’m waiting for him to get out of the way of my drawer and he’s waiting for me to bugger off.

It took about four months to get all my paperwork processed before the Navy would let me in. Part of it is, these days any swingin’ dick or pair of tits will say they want to join the Armed Forces. Not necessarily because they want to serve their country or defend freedom, but because they want free stuff. Some folks get in to get pregnant as fast as possible so then they have their health care paid by Uncle Sam and get some extra money in their paycheck for then having a dependent. Some do it for the free college, thinking they can coast through their duty and have Uncle Sam cough up for tuition, all the while calling themselves a veteran and demanding society bend over (backwards or forwards) for them because they sacrificed so damn much.

Of course the World’s Finest Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force are going to make it difficult to get in. Gotta make sure you’re dedicated, not predicated.

Me? I was looking for direction. I needed guidance. In addition to that, I’ve always had a heart that wants to help others, to be a voice for the voiceless, to be a guardian for the weak. So why not seek direction while doing something useful for once, AKA, defending freedom and spreading liberty?

Over the course of those many weeks, though, I did go back and forth on the position. One day I was sure, then the next day I wasn’t. One reason it took so long for me was because of a kidney stone I had nine years previous.

The pre-screening involves checking off boxes indicating one’s medical history of both physical and mental health. There’s stuff in there about blood conditions, drug habits, suicidal thoughts, and then the two that I had to check: one about having been in counseling and one about having kidney stones.

And it’s a good thing, this pre-screening process. If you’re out to sea, confined to a floating chunk of technologically-advanced metal with only the same yahoos to interact with for days on end with no contact with the outside world, Navy wants to be sure you’re not going to go postal, or have another kidney stone and be laid up for a few days while the rest of the crew has to pick up your slack.

Anchors Aweigh – Part 9: Stepping Into It

PREVIOUSLY…

Man trying to open door to a new better world. Conceptual change, two worlds, hell and paradise.
Man trying to open door to a new better world. Conceptual change, two worlds, hell and paradise.

“Can we help you?” one of them asked.

“I want to be a sailor,” I said.

Pause.

“Well, AM1 there can help you out.”

He stood up from the desk right in front of me, extended his hand and introduced himself. I shook it, introduced myself, sat down and we started talking.

When you go to join the military, they have to gauge your aptitude for skills and smarts. To do this, they make you take a test, kind of like the SAT, except they call it the ASVAB. To get a feel for what AM1 would be working with, he had me take a mock ASVAB in a little room attached to the office.

I remember marveling at the old computing machine, wondering how an Apple ][ was still able to function after so many years. I proceeded with the test and got a 72. I didn’t know much, but I remembered from my own times in school – as a student and as a teacher – that a 72 isn’t great. However, when I told AM1 of my result his eyes lit up and he said that was great and that I should ace the real thing. Not sure if he was pulling my leg or not, we proceeded to start the first of what would become a cavalcade of paperwork.

I don’t recall exactly how long it took that first day in the recruiting office, but when I finally got to work the cafeteria was opening up for lunch.

I went upstairs to my section and checked in with my supervisor. Instead of an expression of irritation which I feared, she had a look of concern on her face. She asked if everything was okay and I told her it was, took a deep breath, and made the whole idea of me joining the Navy as real as it could get by telling her about my morning.

She smiled, her eyes moistened and she gave me a hug, saying she was so proud of me, congratulating me on taking such a big step. When she let go, I’m sure I was blushing and I thanked her for her encouragement, telling her I didn’t know how long the whole process would take, but that I’d keep her updated and let her know as soon as I’d know when I may or may not be leaving.

After all, I had only taken the first step; I wasn’t sworn in, yet.

TO BE CONTINUED…