Archive for February, 2011

Fears and Choices: Is it worth the risk?

My last post dealt with working out and getting fit for the military and I think it’s only natural to share my fears about the process of joining and making it through Officer Candidate School. It’s only natural, because one of my fears is that I will physically fail. I will somehow not meet the standards; I’ll not be able to do enough push-ups or sit-ups in the allotted time or I won’t be able to run a fast enough pace. This worry is what keeps me working hard and physically pushing myself. If I decide I shouldn’t worry about this then I’ll get complacent and then I’m really setting myself up for disaster. So, on this fear, I think it’s better to worry about it because it makes me keep hitting the gym and doing all I can to be in good physical shape.

Of course, there are many other fears that run through my mind as I think about joining the Army. I think first and foremost that there is a huge fear of death. It’s only natural, I think, to fear death and in the case of being in the military, if I do die serving my country, it will probably be in war or in some sort of conflict. It’s a scary thing to think about; being shot to death, being exploded, dying from injuries sustained in battle (chemical warfare or just plain ol’ bullets will do the trick), dying in a POW camp or being kidnapped and murdered. It is something that everyone must think of and consider when joining the military. One is making the ultimate sacrifice of one’s own life for the better of their country.

But I think that some deaths are in vain. The soldiers that died at the hands of their own (at Fort Hood or from dying from friendly fire in combat) probably didn’t think that was how it was going to go down. Is that the ultimate sacrifice? Dying by someone who later says, “oops, we shot that guy.” It makes me afraid of my own (well, soon-to-be-my-own) knowing that people who have committed crimes can be given a waiver and then promptly given a gun. Someone I know said that soldiers “are trained to be killing machines.” Do I trust the 18-year-old killing machine with a GED and a history of drug and alcohol related crimes? No.

And I am also afraid of my soon-to-be-own in light of the allegations that there is a culture of sexual abuse in the military (click here, and here for two takes on the same story). I hurt for those women who claim they were victims of sexual crimes at the hands of their own. If these stories are indeed true, I must consider doing all of this work and having all of these worries, only to have it taken away by a fellow soldier. There is no doubt that I would leave the military if I was raped by a fellow officer. But in true officer fashion I wouldn’t just leave. I’d fight back and lead the way against prosecuting my attackers.

Other major fears include not getting in to OCS, getting hurt and being recycled, getting hurt and getting sent to Advanced Individual Training (enlisted), or making it all the way through everything, uprooting my family, moving across the country and then hating my job. Volunteerism runs deep in my blood but ultimately if I don’t feel like I’m doing a good thing and contributing to something bigger than myself or if I find a corrupt, abusive military establishment I fear that I would have to leave. After all my fears and hard work I would ultimately have to leave.

The fact that I’m considering these things is good. It reminds me that there are risks and rewards no matter if I work in the private sector or the public sector. Yes, these fears are very grim, but it’s important to be realistic about what I’m getting into. I feel powerful in contemplating my future. I feel powerful in knowing myself. Above all I feel powerful knowing that I can make the choice. And ultimately it’s my choice.

Working Hard Working Out

To be honest, I’m not in good physical condition. I’m not a total slob and I’m not noticeably overweight, but I can tell that I am out of shape and that I need to overcome many fitness obstacles to physically qualify for OCS. I am ashamed of this and I can only blame myself for getting out of shape. I am sharing this with you because I know there are people out there in my position. I want to be truthful about what type of physical condition I am starting in so that I can document the improvements that I hope to be making. I was a cheerleader in high school and I maintained a good physique after high school while eating and drinking whatever I wanted. But, life has caught up and I am in that period where I can no longer eat whatever I want, and if I want to stay in shape I actually must work at it! So pair these changes with being a full time student and (BOOM!) I am out of shape. I have worked out periodically during my time in college but it never has lasted long term. So, now I’m looking to make some lifestyle changes because working out and staying in shape will be a requirement of my job in the future, which is part of the reason why I like the idea of being a soldier; I will be paid and expected to stay in shape!

So here is the truth of my physical fitness as of Feb. 13, 2011:

     Push-ups: 10 on my knees to muscle failure (2 minute test TBA)

     Sit-ups: 50 in one minute to muscle failure (2 minute test TBA)

     2 mile run: oh my god! I can’t even run a mile right now! Mile time: 13:41. That’s running on a treadmill at 5.5 mph for a half-mile and then walking the rest as fast as I could.

Ouch! It’s hard to write and it’s hard to read. But I have been doing the right things to advance my fitness base. I have a locker at my college gym which is quite a nice feature because I don’t have to pack a big bag full of workout clothes to school everyday. I bought a new pair of running shoes and some new workout clothes. I am trying to go to the gym three days a week but to be honest I’m not a gym person. And, there is a huge problem at my school’s gym: girls (and guys!) go to the gym to workout together, but they all just want to chit-chat or text on their phones and they are the biggest burden in the world! I watched a girl on the lat-pulldown machine just sitting there texting while I waited and waited and waited for her to get off! How rude! I even asked her if she was resting and she said yes! How could that be?! She wasn’t sweating. She wasn’t breathing hard. She was just using the lat-pulldown machine like a fricken park bench.

I know, I know. If I want to get a serious workout I should join Crossfit. Crossfit is something I’m considering, however, I am a student and I don’t have any money. So, I may join Crossfit in the future when I’ll really benefit from that kind of mentality and functional-type workout, and also when I am fit enough to keep up. So, for now, I’ll endure the stupid college gym if it means that it will get me closer to my goals. Thinking about being a PT stud at basic and OCS keeps me going during my workouts, knowing that if I push myself now it will be easier for me in the future.

Deciding to document the journey

Well, this is my first post of what I’m sure is going to be a long journey to joining the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School. I have read several blogs, forums, and general question and answers regarding the process from start to finish, but I find that they are sometimes incomplete, out-dated, or simply don’t apply to me. I’ve googled every key word that has to do with the Army and joining the Army for the purposes of attending OCS. I’ve read the information provided on about.com, armyOCS.com, goarmy.com, armyocs.info, and military.com just to name a few. If you are looking for answers to what you can expect there are many resources out there, and I suggest reading from a variety of different sources so that you can get as full view as possible about what you may be getting into.

I know that my searching for answers is far from over, and so I wanted to contribute something to this wonderful community of people who are willing to tell every detail about joining the Army. I know that I will have many more moments of “huh?” along the way and in an effort to lessen those moments for future candidates, I’ve decided to share my experience with you, the internet. You are my best friend, internet. You always have the answers and you are a wealth of information. In fact, I got my recruiter’s phone number and address from your brain, internet. What I’m getting at is I don’t know who will read this and I’m just putting it out there, on the internet, for future OCS bound civilians to stumble upon just as I stumbled upon my inspiration for this project. If you would like to look, a very comprehensive and complete blog (the blog in my opinion) which inspired my blog is: http://armyfs.blogspot.com/2006/07/my-experience-joining-us-army.html

I hope it is okay that I put the shortcut on my page but if you are looking for the original poster they may still be on armyocs.com under the username “flec.” As of February 6, 2011 the armyocs.com site has this listed under the “College Option” forum, as a “sticky” at the top of the page entitled “OCS application for college ops (link to blog).” However, keep in mind this was posted in 2006 and I’m unable to ensure that it stays live.