This wasn’t the post I had scheduled for today. Ironically, I had a post written about why I love being a military spouse to be shared this very day, but given the circumstances, I didn’t want to share it. Sharing it would be a lie because right now, I hate the Army. I don’t hate it every day, and I know my feelings will eventually become positive again. But right now, my life has been completely turned upside down and I wasn’t even expecting it…
On Wednesday morning, Andy texted me to say that our anniversary vacation to Aruba this June would have to be changed. (That was the big vacation I had been keeping secret on the blog!) We had originally booked the flights, after confirming with Southwest they would refund our points and fees (for the taxes) if we needed to cancel or re-book. The commanding officer said he was happy to sign Andy’s leave papers if we would re-book to earlier in the month of June because of some Army things happening later that month. I was annoyed, because flights into Aruba are scarce and we were planning around my friend’s wedding on June 3rd. Nonetheless, it was still doable. I finally found two flights– arriving on June 4th and leaving on June 11th– and was ready to book them, even though it would have cost 90,000 Southwest Airline points which would nearly wipe out all of my points. Nonetheless, I told Andy we’d book the flights that night when I got home from work.
That same afternoon, I got a LinkedIn message from a recruiter in the Elizabethtown area, looking to hire a HR Recruiter for a local manufacturing facility. The job was nearly identical to my old job in Owensboro and the pay was phenomenal. I would finally be getting paid what I’m worth! (Right now, I make about $6 an hour less than I should be getting paid.) And it would be a Monday-Friday, 8-5 job. Right now I’ve been working every weekend at the retail store and I hate it. I never see my husband, or can make plans, or go to church. I sent the recruiter my references with a promise to email my resume later when I got home from work; then, I sent a text to my husband telling him I had good news and gave him more info about the job. It took him an hour and a half to reply back, which I thought was odd. I almost texted him “Are you not excited for me?” right as he finally replied. He said “That’s great news honey! Cool, we have a lot to talk about tonight!” Little did I know…
My boss at the tax place let me leave early so I could finish updating my resume and prep for the job interview the next day. I walked in the house and started gushing to Andy about the job opportunity and how I was so excited. He interrupted me and said “I need to talk to you. Sit down.” I knew then that whatever he had to say wouldn’t be good. I turned towards him and gripped the kitchen counter, attempting to brace myself for the news that would knock me off my feet.
With his head down, Andy informed me that he was DA-selected for Recruiter school. To explain it more for my civilian friends, there are two ways to be assigned Recruiter or Drill Sergeant duty. 1) You can request it on your own timeline, as it is a “career booster” or 2) The Army is short on numbers and will pull non-commissioned officers who meet the qualifications for this duty. This is called “Department of the Army selected” or DA-selected for short.
Our plan was for Andy to re-enlist at the last possible minute (in January 2018) before his recruitment window closes so we could spend more time here at Fort Knox. We could pay off our debt entirely, spend more time with family, I could progress my career, and we could enjoy everything that Kentucky has to offer. Then, he would request Recruiter duty to help his career progression. Unfortunately for us, our new President is strengthening the Army’s numbers again and there is a shortage of Recruiters. To save on TDY pay, the Army is pulling as many NCO’s from Fort Knox as they can since the Recruiter School is based out of Fort Knox (hence, no TDY pay since soldiers will continue to stay in their regular homes/barracks.) Fort Knox only has one battalion-sized, active-duty unit on post and that happens to be the battalion Andy is in. Andy’s battalion has been hit hard by DA-selection and every E-5 and E-6 has had to monitor their email daily for news. Just the day before, someone asked Andy if he would be pulled for Recruiter duty and he said with absolutely confidence that it wouldn’t happen, because he hasn’t signed a new re-enlistment contract and as it stands, is due to ETS (leave the Army) in July 2018.
Much to everyone’s surprise, not only was he DA-selected to be a Recruiter, he was given a school date that is much, much sooner than anyone has ever seen. Usually an NCO gets 6 months to a year’s notice before being sent to the school; we have less than half of that.
Andy had just two definite choices in this process: 1) Attend the school on the date the Army has given him and accept the re-enlistment or 2) Leave the school but be given an honorable discharge from the military. Option #2 is out because we were hoping for me to have a good job lined up for us to even consider leaving the Army. There is a third option that isn’t a given, but the one we’re trying for: request a deferment for the school, which will give us an extra month or two here at Fort Knox, and re-enlist before Recruiter school is over. It isn’t a whole lot, but it will give us some extra time to look for a new rental house, save up cash, and process what is happening. Once Andy graduates the school, he will begin a month of out-processing here at Knox before we begin the move to a new assignment. We’re estimating to move this summer, or if we’re lucky, this fall.
Needless to say, I’m absolutely shocked and devastated… (and our anniversary trip to Aruba is definitely out, as is that promising job interview I had to cancel.) I’ll share more about my thoughts and feelings behind this major change in Monday’s blog post.