The Army’s 240th birthday is June 14. That’s 240 years of strength, service, honor … and driving military spouses like me absolutely batty.
I love being an Army wife. I love seeing my husband in that uniform. But I think that we can all agree that no matter how much you like something, facets of it are going to drive you insane. And so, as part of this auspicious week of Army birthday celebrations I bring you …
9 Army Things That Drive Us Crazy
1. Those terrible pens. … and their mysterious ability to sneak into your load of laundry and then explode. Really, the manufacturer of these pens should win an award. Never before has a pen been so stealthy and so lethal. If wars could be fought just by ruining laundry, we could send these pens to the enemy and watch them immediately destroy all clothing. Victory would be swift and sure. Instead, the battle is waged on the home front. Piles of uniforms and the drum of my dryer are the casualties.
2. Uniform changes. Multicam! No multicam. Greens! No more Greens. Beret? Nope, just the patrol cap. Grey PTs! Nope, black and gold. And do these uniforms just disappear from my home after they are cast off by the Army? No, no they do not. They clutter up the closet and garage for eternity, saved by your soldier “just in case.”
3. The cost of “mandatory” unit balls. Yes, these can be fun. But what’s up with the cost?! The last time we attended one, tickets were $80 per person (plus parking … and my dress … and cash bar …) and it was made pretty clear that my solider, at least, was expected to attend. I’d much rather spend my $160 on an extremely nice dinner than on lukewarm conference food, wouldn’t you?
4. Waiting, all the waiting. In my seven years in this life my patience has grown exponentially. But I don’t think Mother Theresa had the patience it would take to never be annoyed by the waiting the Army requires. Orders? Wait. Deployment? Wait. Redeployment? Wait. But first, all the things that happen before the waiting must be done RIGHT THIS SECOND so please, hurry up and wait.
5. The infuriating CIF process. I have one Army friend whose husband was not allowed to turn in an issued item because it came home from deployment with enemy’s blood on it and was “dirty.” Yeah, guess what? When you deploy with something, surprise, it gets dirty. It drives me absolutely insane that we end up paying out of pocket for reasonably used items.
6. All the gear. All of it. In my garage lives a giant box of Army gear that has never been used — not once during training, deployment or otherwise — but must nonetheless be stored in my house until our next move at which time he will turn in the never used stuff. Then, when we get to our next duty station, he will be forced to bring home a completely new pile of things he will never, ever use. And so the world turns.
7. Somebody has to pay. If your soldier is on the more senior side of things he has probably at some point experienced the inequitable and unfair process that is the Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss (FLPIL). That’s a long way to say something “expensive has gone missing and someone has to pay for it.” And since crap floats downstream, well, that someone is your soldier. Thus, I will never see that $4,000 again.
8. That certain stench. Ever notice that the battalion area has the same odor as a fine wine … if wine smells like dirty socks? I think they build the smell into it. Maybe that’s why Army construction costs so much. After all, building such a finely tuned odor into a construction project is not free! Not long ago I visited a brand spanking new battalion area and, yup, it still smelled like man feet. Then again, maybe they should figure out a way to bottle that odor. When we are missing our soldiers during deployment we can just whip the bottle out, take a sniff and think “yup, that smell is still nasty.”
9. All the paperwork. Really, is all this paper necessary? You’ll notice they never decrease the requirements, they just add new ones. And so to enroll my child in the Army’s child and youth program I will be doing paperwork (annually, no less) until I die.
The Army is like a crotchety old aunt. You can’t live with her and really, you don’t want to live without her.
And so happy birthday, Army! You don’t look one day over 238.