Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Great Weekend in Progress

Good news--Lauren was able to fly East, and I was able to get the weekend off from training (along with the rest of my class--no special treatment or anything). But, the bottom line is we're together, which was a pleasant surprise. At the start of the week we didn't think we'd be able to pull it off.

We're not doing much besides hanging out and enjoying one another's company, but as Lauren flew into RDU (Columbia, SC was too expensive) I got to show her around Duke a bit.

Now, as many of you know, Lauren isn't exactly the world's biggest Duke fan. So to deal with this, being the strong willed, no crap-taking Husband that I am, I laid down some ground rules. No more than 5 snide Duke-related comments per hour, and no more than 3 disgusted gestures/sounds/eye-rolls.

To Lauren's credit, she finished our 2 hour tour with a combined comment/look tally of 7--at least 2 or 3 of which were pretty funny, so no blaming her for those. Of course, I was being pretty generous--if Lauren was making one Duke Lacrosse joke, and that led to 2 or 3 more in rapid succession, before the topic of conversation shifted, I only counted that as one comment. And as the gods were smiling on Lauren this last day of June, Duke's lacrosse camp happened to be going on, so there was plenty of available fodder to work with.

I should also note that we sneaked into Cameron (the name of which we've assigned to the second of our two future-dogs) and saw Chris Collins, Wojo, DeMarcus, and Marty. Lauren even picked up an Iron Dukes brochure, and talked about how we should start giving money to become an entry level Iron Duke so that we'll be able to buy tickets down the road. Just goes to show, that jokes and "hatred" aside--my wife loves me and cares about me pretty darn much. I've picked a winner, no 2 ways about it.

OK everyone, time to enjoy one last night w/ my wife. Talk to y'all soon.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cultural Awareness

Just left the most mind numbingly insane class I've ever had the pleasure of attending in the Army. I honestly feel that anything that I might say here, if it fell into the wrong hands, could cause real damage to the Army and its reputation.

For now, let me just say this. The training, to date, has had it's good points--first aid, rules of engagement--and a handful of stunningly bad ones.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My first Cop-out post

I'd love to stay up and watch the draft, then comment on it...but I'm pretty worn out. I'm going to chat with my wife on the phone, clean up, and get to bed. The draft will still be there in the morning. In the meantime, check out my friend Clarence's blog for his pre-draft take, and post-draft analysis (no pressure Clarence).


Today was another fairly boring day, but I did learn a good deal about the Army medical system and what goes into getting a release from active duty. For any future IRR callups, here are some tips.

1) Document everything. If you've had a condition for a year or two (like my left rotator cuff strain/tear) and you never sought treatment for it, the Doctors here won't take much pity on you. If you've got a pack of doctors letters and exams, it lends credibility to the injury. Even if your Exemption packing got denied, bring all that stuff with you to Jackson and you'll have a fighting chance.

2) The General system works like such: you see a PA, to whom you reveal your illness/injury/whatever. If he/she is confident that your condition is listed in the relevant Army regulation, she can recommend your release. If she isn't sure, she'll refer you to the appropriate specialist (ortho for your knee, mental health for PTSD, etc.) From there, the specialist will examine you, pronounce yea or nay, and send you on your way. If you get approved to deploy, but there's still something wrong with you--like with my shoulder--they won't treat it here at Jackson. They send you on to your follow on assignment to let them handle it. The records are computerized and linked, now, which is good--so Fort Bragg will be expecting a dashing young Captain in a few weeks that needs to do rehab on his left shoulder.

Once the PA or specialist has recommended you, the dude who runs the hospital (a Colonel), your battalion commander, and your brigade commander all have to sign off. Even if you pull a fast one on the PA or specialist, those other guys don't necessarily want to see you released, so bear that in mind.

3) Watch out for medical delays. This falls under the "be careful what you wish for" category, as a couple of guys have been given 90 day delays to seek treatment for something or other. If they get healed up (not a certainty, by any means) then they still get stuck deploying, just 3 months later. Most of us here are happy to get this entire process started with as quickly as possible, so we can get back to our families and lives. Delaying by 3 months presents interesting tradeoffs that you should consider.

4) Bottom line--don't count on getting a release. PTSD is your best bet, as if you are legitimately suffering from the condition (have been to Iraq, have nightmares, etc.) they won't deploy you again. Other best bets are all conditions that you don't want to have--arthritis, hip replacement, and really debilitating stuff like that. Sore knees, loss of flexibility, hurting hips...none of that is gonna keep you on the bench.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Weapons and Uniforms

Today was probably the most sit-around-and-do-nothing day yet...but we did don our uniforms for the first time. It was a strange feeling to see myself all dressed up as a soldier again, but it was also kinda cool. As Lauren pointed this afternoon after I texted her a picture of me--I look pretty damn sexy in uniform. Women of the armed forces--look out, and hands off.

In general, I've made quite the transformation as far as my physical appearance goes. I'm still waiting on mom and dad to post or email my going away pictures, and I need to get some action shots of me here at Jackson, but once I have all that I'll publish an Andrew retrospective. The shaggy times, the clean-cut times, and everything in the middle.

We also had our first two training classes tonight--Rules of Engagement and Medical Evacuation protocol (i.e. the 9 line MEDEVAC). Both were OK, and it felt good to be knocking things out. If my fellow new (old) soldiers and I can get things done efficiently, we're slated to get some free time this weekend, and on the 4th of July next week.

OK, I think that's it for now--check back tomorrow night (assuming I can get online) for my thoughts on how the NBA draft played out.

Also, make sure I post sometime or other about how smart and saavy everyone here is--already had lots of good conversations with folks about technology, marketing, technology-marketing, and the like. Very impressed with my fellow soldiers.

With the warmest regards and the greatest respect, I remain yours as always.

Andrew S. Exnicios
Captain, Civil Affairs

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Paperwork is Tiring

I should apologize that I didn't fill out the rest of yesterdays timeline, but nothing of particular interest happened. More paperwork, a couple more briefings, and I got all of my shots updated. I don't have TB, either, in case anyone who was at the wedding was worried. I'm also safely innoculated against Anthrax, so anyone who was thinking about sending me a spiked letter in the mail has missed their chance. Sorry everyone.

Today was more of the same.

We filled out our paperwork to get paid--a good thing--and I and my fellow Captain had the chance to buy uniforms. Best $183.42 I ever spent. The enlisted guys get everything issued to them, but we officers have to buy it on our own. We get a stipend of $200 to cover things, which sounds pretty good--until you factor in that I'd already spent $200 on new uniforms before I came to Jackson. The money spent today was just the icing on the cake.

We had Turkey and stuffing at the dining facility tonight for dinner chow. This is the second turkey/stuffing meal I've had so far. I think I'll keep a tally to see how many times I eat this in the next year. And I can tell you--there's no bigger fan of turkey/stuffing than me. I honestly proposed "Thanksgiving" as a culinary theme for my wedding. Lauren's lack of amusement aside, I thought it was a pretty nifty idea.

All that said, if I keep my current pace of eating turkey/stuffing twice every three days, that projects to about 350 turkey dinners between now and coming home. I can't think I'll still like turkey/stuffing very much after 350 goes at it in a year and a half. I'll come to remember my deployment as "My Deployment--the 545 days that made me hate Thanksgiving".

But for now, things continue to go wel enough, and I'm down to 542 days a wake up. I can practically taste the freedom already--and I'm still a big fan of turkey and stuffing.

Continued Love to All,


Monday, June 25, 2007

A Day in the Life

2230 Goto bed, lights are out. Asleep I could be anywhere. Asleep I'm with my Lauren. I like asleep.

0200 More call-up's arrive, turn lights on and make noise, endear selves to rest of the barracks. Lights go back off, I resume my sleeping.

0430 Lights go back on, for good this time. I valiantly strive to continue sleeping.

0432 I get up. Time to face the day (2 out of 545)

0500-0730 Stand around, listen to information we've already had told to us 3 times, eat breakfast chow. I like breakfast chow.

0730 Arrive at Dental Clinic. Discover that the Army, which wouldn't let us keep our medical or dental records when we left the first time, hasn't bothered to hold on to them either.

0945 Leave Dental Clinic. Officially fail in my first opportunity to be disqualified for service. Damn you, perfect dental hygeine. Damn you.

1104 Arrive at audiology appointment. Contemplate feigning deafness. Deaf soldiers tend not to make very good Civil Affairs Officers.

1131 The verdict is in--I can still hear pretty well. Not as well as in 2000. Not sure if the artillery, or the rock shows are to blame.

To be continued...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Eagle has Landed


After an unnecessarily eventful drive down from VA, I'm here at Fort Jackson, SC ready for action. Which is to say that I arrived at 1PM, filled out paperwork for an hour, and now have the rest of the day to sit around and wonder "hmm, just how bad would an OTH discharge really have been, anyways???"

But, signed in as I am, there's no turning back now.

Living conditions look to be pretty decent. I'm in an air conditioned computer lab now (it's pushing 100 outside). I live in an open bay barracks with wall lockers, Army linens (scratchy wool and worn out cotton) and communal bathrooms--but again, they have A/C, which makes the whole thing tolerable.

In our immediate area there is a shoppette (think 7-11 crossed with an Army sock/shirt store), a bar we can go drink beers at at night (no kidding), and a decent looking dining facility that I'll report back on after dinner. I've also been led to believe that there is a Gym somewhere in the vicinity--not that you don't get your daily exercise pretty well knocked out simply by sweating your way from one building to the next, but still, Gyms are nice to have.

Tomorrow morning our first formation is at 0500, which isn't any fun--but twas expected, so no big deal. From there I think we're going to spend a long day getting our pay started, our paperwork approved, and our persons medically examined. Awesome.

I'd ramble on for more, but I think I've probably already broken my "no-long-winded posts" promise from earlier this week. Besides, if I revealed all of this weeks exciting secrets now, what motivation would you have to come back later this week to check in on my exciting progress?

Love and kisses to all, and I'll catch you soon.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Muster

Got word from the first of my buddies who is affected by the new "Muster Formations" the Army has instituted to get a better handle on Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) soldiers. I was on the IRR before I was mobilized, but a muster isn't a mobilization--or even a strong predictor of future mobilizations, saeth the Army. As to that, my friends, we shall see.

I leave tomorrow, and I'm not sure if I'll have a day or two before I get back on the internet. So until then...enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting Ready to Head To Jackson

It looks like Saturday is the day. I'm gonna hop in the trusty CRV, and drive to South Carolina to report for in-processing and training. I spent today running various errands, and generally making sure that I have all the necessary paperwork (signed leases, marriage license, etc.) to hand over to the Army. Tomorrow I'm going to go to my friendly neighborhood Army post (Fort Belvoir--where Lauren and I got married) to pick up things like Army t-shirts and Army socks. My know you want it.

Why the shopping trip you ask? Well, back in the halcyon days of my MBA training back in Berkeley, I gave most of my old Army stuff away to good will. So while the homeless folks of the greater Oakland metropolitan area are no doubt decked out in high quality, authentic Captain Exnicios gear, I myself am left with plenty of supplies to refill.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wedding Photos

Hello again.

This is the photo website Lauren and I put together for the wedding. We hope you enjoy them (the photos, that is) and for those of you who were able to come to the wedding--please upload away.

To view, you don't need to join Shutterfly.

To upload your own, you DO need an account--but it would be great to get all the photos on one site, so please consider doing so.

Just Married!

Hey again.

I realize that most of you are reading these first two posts simultaneously, so please make sure to check out the previous entry for a little bit about the what and how of Army 2.0.

That said, on to the big news--Lauren and I were married this past Saturday, and we couldn't be happier. The New York Times (the newspaper of record for weddings, or so I've been told) ran a wedding announcement for us, which was pretty cool.

We took off after the wedding to enjoy a brief mini-honeymoon at a B&B in Annapolis, MD, and that went swimmingly as well.

Sadly, I put Lauren on a plane for Colorado this afternoon, and she'll be there for a little less than a month before heading to VA and her new gig at Fort Belvoir. And I report to Fort Jackson (in South Carolina) to begin the Army adventure on Sunday.

So in reality, we're thrilled to be married, and the wedding was fantastic (thanks again to everyone)...but Lauren and I are pretty bummed out right now. Still--knowing how rich we are in family and friends will help us get through this, as it has for so many military families before us.

But sad feelings pictures are soon to follow!

Welcome to the Army 2.0

Hey everyone.

And so begins my collective communication with all of you as I take on Army life for the second time around. I hope that this blog will help all of you keep in touch with me as I prepare for whatever the Army has in store for me and Lauren.

Everyone always starts these things with grand intentions of updating regularly, and some do a better job of posting than others. I'll apologize in advance if my posting frequency waxes and wanes through the months, but trust that through it all I'm doing fine, and I'll be home soon.

Also, I always have trouble keeping interested in the blogs where the individual posts get too longwinded. As such, I pledge to write more, shorter posts, rather than shoving information down your throats with a fire hose every 4 or 6 weeks. Again, though, the best laid plans...

That's all for now--I hope this post finds you all well, and I'll have more information for you soon.