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During basic training, there came a point that I got fed up with all the bullshit that we were dealing with. I was an educated man, I could go to college for another two years and just return to my good job at Deutsche Bank. I didn’t need to deal with this ridiculous bullshit anymore. I decided that I wanted out!
Most people who wanted out opted to take the “mental health” path. So, I decided that I was no longer mentally fit to serve. In hindsight, I can speak about it very practically and coolly, but at the time I was stressed the hell out. I remember that I cried a few times, and because of that they wanted to make sure I wasn’t gonna kill myself or nothing crazy like that.
Mind you, I had no intention of harming myself, but I was desperate to get the hell out of that annoying situation, so I said I didn’t know if I could harm myself or not, I just wanted to leave. So they sent me to a medical unit, and I spent about 5 days with those people who were waiting on medical discharges.
I realized a few things while I was there, most of these people were functional, and like me they just wanted to leave. I also realized that some of them were there about 4 weeks. My training was due to end in four weeks, why would I spend it there, dealing with the same bullshit, but not becoming an Airman at the end of it?
At that point I approached the person in charge, and I stated that I was now ready to return to my unit, that I felt fine. They sent me over to my drill instructors and had me request to be brought back. After we spoke, I explained that I had a moment of weakness, but that this was over and done with and I’d like to return. I think they recognized my value, and they were very happy to have me come back, though they didn’t show it much, they didn’t hide it as well as they thought they could.
That same day I was back at my unit, in my old bed, and I didn’t miss a beat. In fact, I was invigorated and super excited to be back. Those few days spent in that helpless situation of a “limbo unit” really helped me get my ass back in order.
I remember while I was trying to get out of there, the feeling of helplessness that I felt when I was pleading my case with the Officers, and how helpless I felt when they said that I had to stay in the medical observation flight. It was a feeling of complete defeat. However, at that time was when I developed the discipline and ability to accept things as they are. I understood that some things cannot be helped and that no matter how badly we want something, sometimes circumstances are out of our control. Just accept it and carry on, nothing more to it.
I’m not proud that I tried to get out, I feel ashamed about it. However, the overall experience and life coping lessons learned proved invaluable. They have helped me in my career and my day to day life. Had I not tried to get out, I may not have gained this valuable insight that early on. The level of understanding about reality I gained because of that experience was life altering.
I believe the greatest asset that I gained from my experience in boot camp was that life lesson. Accepting things as they are, and just doing what needs to be done. I don’t want to work late, but the work has to be done. There is no sense in whining about it, just get it done and move on. That’s all there is to it. During boot camp, I zeroed in on true discipline.