While Gunnar was deployed (which was basically the whole time he's been back in the Army, up till now), which brought along with it some nice financial perks. We received monthly bonuses for combat pay, separation pay, hazardous duty pay, and probably some other things that I can't keep track of. And when he came back in September, all of those bonuses magically disappeared. We've been doing pretty well going from a dual income to a single income household, especially since the military benefits are incredible. But now adjusting to having another person to feed, a person with the capability of spending money too, and the 30-something % decrease in pay is taking some getting used to. I was anticipating the change in income but didn't realize how much our outgoing cash was going to change too.
For example, today Gunnar had "Payday Activities". Silly thing to call it but generally on the first Friday of each month, they have the guys get all dressed up in their Class A's for an inspection and do other funny tricks too. This morning Gunnar had to be at work at 5am for a Brigade run. So 3,000 guys were running in formation all over Fort Bragg doing their yelling and cadence-ing and all that jazz. I heard them from my cozy warm bed about a half a block away from one of the streets they ran down. A lot of roads are closed on base in the wee hours of the morning to allow for silly stuff like this.
Gunnar got home after the run and got changed for the inspection. He has been working on his uniform all week. He had to get 2 haircuts (cha-ching, cha-ching) because the first didn't meet Army standards. (The second haircut honestly didn't look that different from the first, in my opinion. But what do I know?) He also had to get lots of fancy little decorations for his jacket. He had a long list of things that needed to be added to it, plus new patches that needed to be sewn on. There's dozens and dozens of alterations, dry cleaners and sewing places just off post so it was easy to get it done. But of course, all this added up to cost an arm and a leg when it was all said and done. They Army requires a ton of out of pocket expenses for these soldiers! To be fair, they also include an annual uniform allowance in their pay. But it's only around $200 and seriously, that barely scratches the surface of what they are required to purchase.
Anyway, that was a lot of griping and complaining wasn't it? I think you'll enjoy the final product. Take a look:
All dressed up!
He obsessed over getting these damn things shiny enough, and still thought they could use more shine. These are his "jump boots", only required by paratroopers. I think. They (obviously) aren't worn for jumping out of planes anymore, but the Army loves them some traditions.
Affectionately referred to as the "salad bar". I think this one is impressive, though I only know what about 10% of those things mean.
Some more decorations.
I took these before he put on his goofy beret. Hopefully I can snap one later and give you the whole picture.