Sunday, April 27, 2008

Redeployment process

After a week of vagabonding around Iraq and Kuwait, we left late on a Saturday nite, and arrived on a Sunday morning to Ft. Riley Kansas via Forbes Army Air Field in Topeka KS. We had one layover in Shannon, Ireland at about 6am that local time. As usual with such travel exercises in the military, we’d get up at insane hours to get ready and wait around, so I was fairly short on sleep for the 3 days or so until we arrived in KS.

I actually slept pretty well on the flights from Kuwait and Shannon, so wasn’t completely out of sorts when we got to Fort Riley.

We had a very brief welcome home ceremony- maybe 10 minutes, including prayer, national anthem, and 2 minute talk. It was kinda funny, really. They only did the ceremony because of some legislative or Army requirement. There were maybe 15 people in the “crowd” that watched our ceremony. But I wouldn’t mind if all military ceremonies were that brief.

We took most of Sunday off, Monday was spent getting our paperwork in order (called the reverse SRP, soldier readiness processing- as opposed to the SRP on our way to Iraq). Tuesday we did a few briefs in the morning, finished SRP, and then did equipment turn in in the afternoon.

The SRP was a bit troubling, because it was not set up to handle the volume of soldiers going through, and also wasn’t equipped to address any special needs- it only really worked for the “ideal” soldier with no problems or additional requirements. For example, my various health problems (shoulder, back, finger, sleep apnea) were noted, but no treatment or diagnosis work was done. ‘Do it on your own time’ was the mantra. We’ll see how that goes. Same for the dentist, etc. We have 180 days to try and get it all in order. Equipment turn-in was also oriented around doing it as quickly as possible, with accuracy taking a back seat to expedience. That piece was nice, because it meant we could hold on to pieces of equipment that we were particularly interested in. And of course, it means I am bringing home a bunch of stuff. I’ve done far too much accumulating during this tour. Much of it has so much sentimental value to it, though, which makes it hard for me to throw things away, no matter how silly the retained objects may seem to others.

And the outprocessing period has been a bit odd also because none of the folks I was close with were going through it with me, so it was another period of being pretty alone in a crowd. No complaints, though, it is just great to be in the United States. Just this morning as we have been doing our final outprocessing, there were some units doing their train-ups for their deployments and they were doing test-fires of their 50 caliber machine guns. That gave a number of us some decent startle responses- not PTSD by any means, but our bodies clearly went into alert status as they would and did when hearing unexpected gunfire back in Iraq.

And now on the bus out to Kansas City International Airport. Get to be with the family tonight. Looking forward to it.

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