With countless aches & pains, lessons learned and her head held high, this former officer candidate is home.
For the first time in over 5 weeks, I have the chance to sit down with nothing but a cup of coffee and my thoughts. I’m not even sure where or how to begin processing my emotions and recent events.
I am exceptionally proud of the fact that I made it halfway through training. It’s difficult to put into words how difficult those 5 weeks were and the sense of accomplishment that comes with the completion of every challenging evolution. It’s also difficult to describe how frustrating it is to have the end almost in sight and be forced to quit. I know I could have finished, even if it meant crawling to graduation day.
I got placed on an Incident Review Board. with no one pulling for me. There was one Gunnery Sergeant who seemed to be fighting for me, but against 10, 1 doesn’t have much weight. A Board is basically a gathering of all of the company & battalion staff, they look at your paper trail, listen to your argument and determine if you get to continue training; typically the boards are for failing (leadership, academics, and/or physical) or particular incidents. I never stood a chance at the boards–they had their minds made up before I even got there.
In short, I got dropped for “a significant lack in judgment & integrity:”
- The Letter: A letter I wrote home, ended up on a public social media site and the content was decided to show a lack of commitment to the program. It was also an “integrity violation” because they believed that I posted it and had therefore kept contraband. This incident in essence, put a target on my back. Everyday became miserable on so many levels; company staff made up their minds that they wanted me gone and a few even told me that they would do everything they could to make sure I didn’t graduate.
- The Obstacle Course: Running the obstacle course in a set amount of time, without missing any obstacles is a graduation requirement. There are two obstacles I struggled with: the Single High Vault & the Bounding Logs; on test day, you get 3 attempts at each obstacle before you have to count it as a loss and keep moving. I completed the course in 4:10, missing only the Bounding Logs–I got the Single High Vault on my third try. However, the company XO didn’t see me get the Single High Vault and accused me of cheating for not reporting it as a failed obstacle.
- Malingering: One morning I went to medical after PT, and was told to return in 2 days if the injury didn’t improve. The problem was that my medical record didn’t indicate a necessary follow-up appointment, so when I went in, the XO accused me of lying to get out of PT.
By the time my boards came around, I had pretty much checked out. Their objective of completely breaking me down had been secured. I really don’t mind being screamed at by the Sergeant Instructors, but when they constantly make it personal and attack your character, it’s difficult to stay focused. I got blasted and given chits (basically a write-up with a written response) for the most minute things–things that no one else was even noticed for. As much as I wanted to say, “to hell with all,” I felt like that would only prove them right. So, I pushed harder, studied more, and put out more. All to no avail–the more I worked, the more trouble I got in and the more discouraged I became. Honestly, on Monday, when the decision was made that I was being sent home, I felt a sense of relief.
Sometimes, I think it was foolish to think I could make it through; foolish not to have a Plan B. I have no car, no job, no place to live. Some days, I’m so anxious that I can barely eat or sleep. Other days, I have perfect peace. No matter what lies ahead of me, I am resolved to trek onward with my head held high. I did nothing wrong and I did my best–at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
- Will I go back? Thankfully, I have the recommendation to (turns out, that’s a really big deal for your permanent record), but no, I don’t plan to. I saw a lot of things in the character of the leadership that makes me want to completely disassociate myself with the Corps.
- How do I feel now? When I think too much about it, I get pissed off and anxious. The one thing I don’t feel is sorry for myself (you shouldn’t either!); I refuse to dwell on things that can’t be changed–there’s a wide world out there, ready for exploring.
- What do I need? A job, a car, somewhere to live (as much I appreciate my parents letting me stay at home, that’s not a long-term option)
- What am I going to do now? Study & retake the GRE, hopefully find a job, enjoy this time to be still and really pray about what the Lord has for me in the future.
I would sincerely appreciate your prayers as I seek the Lord in figuring out my next steps. Pray for an enduring peace and trust in the Lord to provide & direct.