Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What the....

I had to wait a few days to process the change in plans before sharing it with all of you. Gunnar relocated to Georgia and after a week of in-processing (aka doing not much of anything at all), it was announced Friday morning that he would be joining week #4 of Basic training. All along it was understood that he was exempt from Basic training since he is prior service. And because the WTC course in Oklahoma is a sort of refresher-course-in-place-of-Basic for prior service. Well the week #4 info came as one heck of a blow. Gunnar was assuming he would be put into week #8 or #7, worst case scenario. That was the word on the street anyway. Also, Gunnar's contract clearly states 14 weeks of Army training and this little set back makes it closer to 19 weeks. We were planning for an early-mid September graduation and now he is scheduled to graduate October 2nd.

Basic training is brutal. The drill sergeants are ruthless and he is really miserable. I understand this is how it is intentionally set up but Gunnar has been there, done that before and really doesn't belong there. All of his prior service buddies are in the same boat and all pretty upset about this. I'm pretty sure if they had known ahead of time that this was the plan, they all still would have re-enlisted, and would be better prepared, knowing what they're getting themselves into.

Gunnar's cousin (a fellow I've never met and lives somewhere in the southwest) is an Army recruiter. Gunnar gave me all his contact info in case I had any questions or needed anything while he's gone for the summer. I felt this little situation warranted an email to the guy. I asked Joel what in the world Gunnar is doing in Basic training at this stage in the game. Joel said he couldn't believe Gunnar was surprised to be in Basic again. Army policy states that any soldier out of the service for more than 48 months needs to complete Basic training again. Some good information that would have been nice to know a few months ago!

So it's going to be a long time till I see my Gunnar again. His phone was confiscated so we no longer can text or talk like we had been able to. He has called a few times from a pay phone but the lack of communication has been really hard. I can't believe it's going to be like this for another 10 weeks. He is sending me a letter every day, which is pretty awesome. But I am only sending him a letter once or twice each week. He has to do 25 pushups for each letter he receives. I feel terribly guilty knowing how hard he has to work to read what I write but I know he is thrilled to get the letters too. Damn drill sergeants.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Graduation!

A few days ago (Wednesday) Gunnar graduated from WTC (Warrior Training Course) in Oklahoma. The WTC course was designed as a replacement for Basic Training for prior service recruits to the Army and also gentleman that were prior service in other branches of the military and re-enlisting in the Army. After graduation Gunnar traveled to Georgia on Thursday to go to Fort Benning where he will complete his Infantry Training. Infantry training at Fort Benning is unique in that it is a combination of basic training and MOS training. Because of this, it was understood that Gunnar and some of his fellow WTC grads would be jumping into and existing training class mid-stride. However that might not actually be the case. There are rumors going around that they may make all of the prior service fellas go through basic training again. I was mostly infuriated when Gunnar told me this. I was figuring it up and he should in theory be gone for another 9 weeks (based on his contract he signed with the recruiters) but this basic training set back could mean he is gone for another 12-15 weeks! Talk about not being able to plan for anything ever!

I was really stressing these details till my pal Rachel put things in perspective for me. She pointed out that the longer he is in training, the longer he is stateside and not actually fighting on the front lines somewhere. Good point Rachel! That completely made my day. I would rather Gunnar be 4 states away marching around GA than fighting bad guys in Afghanistan.

Gunnar won't actually find out what their plans are for him until next Friday. This may actually be the biggest waste of a person's time to be in limbo for more than a week. This seems really quite disorganized and I am learning to not have very high expectations for the people in charge of planning these training courses. So in the meantime he is doing silly busy work, cleaning barracks, formation a few times each day, texting me non-stop. He sent me a message today saying he was done for the day at about 6:54am. Why oh why couldn't they send him home for a week if he isn't even doing anything?!

There have been other puzzles to figure out this week like figuring out how our new health insurance benefits paperwork mysteriously never was submitted, how to get insurance after the fact, which doctors to see, how to get prescriptions filled, etc. I had more than one crying meltdown with very friendly customer service representative at Tricare. After all was said and done and sorted out, it did all get straightened out. I took a deep breath and had a glass of Chardonnay with my parents and all was right with the world again.

I knew none of this was going to be easy, and I am becoming more accustomed to being flexible as dates and times and training schedules change constantly. I am really ready to have my family back together but have an undetermined amount of time to wait. But I'm ok with waiting because like Rachel said, Gunnar is safe where he is, even if we are all homesick.