Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another Pee Test - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 53

In the warrior transition unit, there are a lot of people prescribed 
a lot of drugs for all the various physical and mental issues. 
Now you can earn some cash for getting a "Warrior Check-Up"

As I was sitting in my car this morning waiting to head to morning formation, I got a call from my squad leader. He gave me a heads up letting me know that I was going to have a pee test this morning. With that knowledge, I headed to formation with my PT jacket on and coffee in hand.

As we were standing in formation the first sergeant had everyone that is living in the barracks stand in front of the formation…which was the majority of the people in our company. The first sergeant then went on a rant telling the squad leaders and platoon sergeants, they should be ashamed of themselves. I guess there was room inspections in the barracks and bravo company failed miserably. I'm so glad I don't live in the barracks and have to deal with all that BS.

I then had my name called along with about 10 others for the pee test, so while everyone else did PT we headed to the staging area inside the building. The normal routine ensued with the NCO reading the pee test script. I sat in a chair drinking my coffee and playing games on my iPhone. I finished my coffee and then filled up my cup with water…about 45 minutes passed and I decided it was time. I had to kind of go earlier, but I didn't want a repeat of last time…I had to make sure I had to go…and go a lot! My squad leader came in the bathroom with me, but unlike the last episode, he stood back and let me do my thing. No problems this time.

I then headed to the SFAC to check my army email. Once that was done I hung out in my car until lunch time, then made my way back to the SFAC to eat it. Once lunch was finished, I headed to the library to do schoolwork. I stayed in the library until the end of day formation at 1600. During this formation we had to hear more about how bad people's rooms were in the barracks…then we were cut loose for the day.

While home I checked my personal email and found that I received a message stating my household goods have finally arrived. I replied right away stating I can have them delivered as soon as possible…we'll see when that is.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Where is My Crap? - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 52

This morning we had formation at Keeler Gym. I showed up in ACUs because I had an Occupational Therapy appointment at 0730. This was the first time I had gone to Keeler gym, it's a good thing I gave myself plenty of time because the main road leading to the gym is under construction. I had to follow detour signs all around until I finally found the place.

After formation I headed to my Occupational Therapy appointment which was in the WTB complex. This appointment was just to get the paperwork started for my MOU. This will allow me to keep taking college classes (and hopefully be able to miss evening formations from now on). It will also allow me to work in an internship. I'm looking at a systems technician job in my hometown of Bremerton working at the naval shipyard. How ironic would it be if the first time I actually do an I.T. job while in the army ends up actually working with the navy? Anyways that process only took about 15 minutes. I just had to fill out some paperwork and then chat with the worker for a bit. She will now take all my paperwork to get it signed by the powers that be.

I then headed straight to the transportation office. When I checked online to see where my household goods shipment from Germany was, all it stated was the required delivery date is July 29th. That was yesterday and I haven't heard a thing yet. When I arrived at transportation, they just gave me a customer service number to call. When I called all the guy could tell me was that my household goods were still in transit. No estimated time or anything. All he said was "we've had a lot of shipments running late". I asked him what happens when a shipment doesn't arrive by the "required delivery date"? There was a long pause, then he just repeated "we've had a lot of shipments running late". I guess "required delivery date" doesn't really mean that much when it's the government.

The whole transportation issue put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. We've been living in an empty house for a while now. All we have is a mattress, a coffee maker, and some outside furniture. We eat dinner at my in-laws every night because we have nothing to make food with. Of course it's nice to see the in-laws and we buy groceries for them, but it would be nice to be independent soon. I then read online about a bunch of different people's horror stories with their household goods…that didn't help with my bad mood.

I went out to my car and took a nap, then headed to the library and did schoolwork. I made my way back to the SFAC to eat my lunch, then back to the library for more schoolwork. I had a lot of work due this week. It would be nice if I could actually do the schoolwork at home during the day. The library isn't the optimal place to accomplish this. Every time I need to use the bathroom, I have to pack up all my stuff and take it with me. I can't trust leaving my laptop unattended. It also seems that there is an abnormal amount of kids that are in the library at certain times, which can make concentrating difficult. At least it does have free WiFi and tables where I can actually do my studying. I'll take it for now.

I headed to the end of day formation at 1600 where nothing was put out and we were dismissed.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Shot in the Butt - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 51

PT this morning was pretty intense, especially compared to what we usually end up doing. The NCO focused mainly on our upper body doing things like overhead arm claps, push-ups against a wall, and sitting down doing the military press with a partner giving slight resistance. What made it such an intense workout was the sheer number of repetitions we did…I'm going to be sore for a while after today.

I did the usual and had breakfast in my car and then headed to the gym to change. I made the mistake of arriving at the gym during rush hour and it was a total sausage fest! There were naked dudes everywhere, I'm going to have to adjust my time and arrive a bit later from now on.

I headed to the SFAC to take an ACAP class. It turned out there were only two of us in the class, so it went by pretty quick. It was basically an overview of the ACAP process and giving us a bunch of websites to view. This class is supposed to be the first one you attend, but I had to reschedule this one earlier because of conflicting appointments.

After the class I went out to my car for some rest…listened to the radio and maybe even nodded off for a few minutes here and there. I headed back into the SFAC and ate my lunch. I ended up just staying in the SFAC using one of their tables and their WiFi with my laptop.

Finally I had an appointment with my PCM. We went over my issues as usual and I asked for something quite a bit stronger than my current pain killer to deal with the times I get major headaches. She prescribed me some Percocet, which should do the trick. Since I actually had a moderate headache she had the nurse give me an injection in my butt. I forget what the actual name of the injection was, but it was described to me as a dose of "Super Motrin". Because Motrin hasn't done much for me in the past, I wasn't expecting much from this at all. It turned out that it actually did help relieve my headache pain. In fact my head didn't hurt at all for about 6 hours! Usually I can feel the pain in my neck and head every time I take a step, even when I don't have a full on headache. With this shot, I felt normal for the first time in a long time…at least for 6 hours.

I waited around for evening formation at 1600, which ended up being an informal gathering where we were told there is nothing to report. I then headed home.

Edit: I did finally look back at my medical records and found out the shot was Toradol. I have since requested shots from my civilian doctor and it helps a lot with the pain

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 49 & 50

  The Puget Sound - A ferry with Mt. Rainier in the background.
An old co-worker of mine now commutes to Seattle and
always takes some amazing photos!
(I figured if I don't have any photos I'll at least share some of the area)

This weekend pretty much sucked. My head was killing me all day Saturday. The pain killers prescribed to me did absolutely nothing to help it. I ended up just laying around in bed for most of the day because of this. By the time Sunday came along, my head was back to the usual mild to moderate pain level…that I can deal with. We spent most of the day visiting with family…nothing too exciting to report.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Physical Therapy - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 48

I headed to morning formation in my PT uniform, but did not actually participate in PT because I had a 0800 appointment. I headed back to my car and ate breakfast while listening to the radio. I then headed to the hospital's physical therapy department. I am finally getting my knee looked at, it has always taken a back seat to my headaches.

The physical therapists asked a bunch of questions, then had me lay down while they stretched and moved my leg all around. After consulting each other for a while they came back with a plan. They believe because of the degeneration in my knee, the bones are getting too close to each other because my muscles are so tight. They are starting me on a twice a day stretching routine and suggested that I start taking glucosamine to help with my joints. We went over each of the stretches and they gave me a handout. I'll be doing them each morning and night.

I had Subway for lunch and then went to the library to do schoolwork. I ended up getting a text from my squad leader at a little after 1300 stating there will be no end of day formation today…so I headed home for the weekend early!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

POV Pickup - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 47

Woke up this morning at 0615 and sent my squad leader a text reminding him that I will not be at formation because I'll be picking up my car…I then went back to sleep. I finally got up around 0730 and got ready for the day. I left in civilian clothes and picked up my sister-in-law. She agreed to ride with me to Tacoma and pick up my car. We arrived and the process was pretty simple. I showed them my paperwork and my ID, they had my sign a few things then go out and inspect my car. They put on the temporary plates that were given to me back in Germany for shipping. I signed another paper stating there was no damage during shipping and was able to leave. I had to stop by the customs office which was about a mile down the road and sign another form, but that only took about 5 minutes.

My sister-in-law headed home in my father-in-law's car and I headed to the SFAC in my car. It's good to have it back and not relying on someone else for transportation now! I checked my army email at the SFAC and found out I finally got reimbursed for my hotel stay when I first arrived here. It included not only the cost of the hotel, but meal allowances as well. I ate lunch at the SFAC and then headed to the library to do schoolwork until evening formation.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

NCM - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 46

A photo of the Madigan Pharmacy. You can see some of the stations with 
the current numbers they are helping...along with the last few that have been called. 
Even in uniform it's usually a pretty long wait.

This morning for PT we did a very light workout, then walked a few times around the WTB complex. I then headed to my car and ate breakfast as usual. I headed to the gym and changed before heading to the SFAC to check my army email. (still no word on my household goods).

I had an appointment with my NCM (nurse care manager). She informed me that she'll be going on vacation for two weeks and introduced me to her backup. She then got my occupational therapy appointment. This will be where they can get the process started so I can go to school or do an internship, then I will not need to stay around for the evening formations. She then made my appointment for physical therapy for my knee. She also checked on my prescription for tramadol and saw that it had actually been sent to the pharmacy.

I headed to the pharmacy and picked up my prescription, then headed to the SFAC where I ate my lunch. The rest of the day was spent at the library where I did my schoolwork and dinked around on the internet to pass time. Finally I headed to the end of day formation just to hear that they had nothing for us…I headed home.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Slow Finance Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 45

Today it was just one of those days. I think I took a muscle relaxer a little too late last night and was still quite a bit drowsy when I woke up. I was pretty much on autopilot the entire morning. When I arrived for the morning formation, there was nobody there. After texting my squad leader I realized the formation was at the gym. He did tell me during my initial counseling that on Tuesdays the formations were at the gym. I thought that he said "some" Tuesdays and not "every" Tuesday. I had an ACAP class anyway, so I wasn't going to do any PT…he said no big deal and to go ahead and take care of my ACAP class.

I arrived at the class which was located in the same room as yesterday. I realized that while on "auto-pilot" this morning I totally forgot my lunch bag…which also had my breakfast items in it. That sucks! I ended up purchasing a pastry from the vending machine and it was actually pretty tasty! I did remember to bring my coffee, which is a must have! I made my way to the classroom and then sat through a very boring finance class. The class was basically on how to budget along with maintaining your credit and such. This is very basic stuff, which I've been doing since I was a teenager. I think if you're over 30 and you have a credit score over 700, you should be able to get this class waived. What a waste of time. I had to fight nodding off the entire time. The good news was that I was in civilian clothes, so at least I was comfortable.

I headed downstairs at lunch time and had lunch at their mini-subway shop. (again because I forgot my lunch). I then headed to the SFAC and checked my army email…still no word on my household goods. After that I headed to the library for the rest of the day and did my schoolwork, then played around on the internet passing time. When it came time to change out of my civilian clothes so I could head to the end of day formation, I realized that I forgot my hat (patrol cap) back at the house. I can't wear ACUs outside without a hat, so this pretty much screwed me. I headed to the end of day formation in my civilian clothes and just hung out behind where we form up. It turned out that they didn't even form up, the NCO just had everyone gather around him while he stated that he had nothing for us.

What a day…I need to make sure and remember to take my muscle relaxers a bit earlier from now on…when I do actually take them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

ACAP - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 44

Ft. Lewis and North Ft. Lewis are divided between Interstate 5

I headed to morning formation in PTs, but didn't actually do PT…I had an appointment. After formation I headed to the gym and changed into civilian clothes. I then headed to North Ft. Lewis to the education center for my ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program) VA Benefits I & II briefs. ACAP is a program every soldier that is leaving the army is required to do. It includes a number of briefs, I split mine into a variety of days to help pass the time I guess. This first day had a class from 0800 to 1200 then from 1300 to 1530. The topics were VA benefits available to us after we get out of the army. It was full of good information.

I found out at lunch time that North Ft. Lewis is pretty crazy. I was going to hit the Burger King at lunch, but there was no parking available at all and the drive through line was ridiculous. I ended up just going back to my parking spot and going to the "mini-subway" located in the education center building. Even though the line was long, they did a pretty good job of keeping it moving.

After the second brief I just headed home. I suppose I could have made it to the evening formation, but why? My squad leader already knew I was at ACAP today and the evening formation usually never has any useful information anyway.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 42 - 43

Me doing some indoor skydiving

Usually the weekends are my own, but this one had another QTC appointment that I had to attend. Luckily the appointment was in Bremerton where I currently live. It was very close to the hospital, so I dropped off my son and wife at the hospital to visit my grandma who is still there. I then walked across the street to the QTC office and checked in. They grabbed a folder and promptly handed me a check. I was a little surprised by this, but I guess since I am stationed at Ft. Lewis and had to drive all the way to Bremerton for the appointment I got reimbursed. I'm not going to complain about getting an $18 check. (I didn't realize until I got home that they gave me a check with another person's name on it...not a big deal since it's only $18, but it did make me shake my head)

I then filled out a quick questionnaire and had my hearing tested. Ever since basic training I've had ringing in my ears. The earplugs they give you didn't really work very well in my ears. After basic I always use the foam earplugs that can squish and then fill up all the voids to really protect your ears, but the damage has already been done. The last time I had a hearing test before I left Germany, the tech said I've had a bit of hearing loss. I also have a constant high pitched ringing in my ears all the time (tinnitus). So I went through all the tests and the tech told me I do have hearing loss at the high ranges, so it may be difficult to hear women and children. I was sure to pass that along to my wife…I had to let her know that it's my ears, I'm not ignoring her…lol.

The rest of the day and weekend was spent giving my son his belated birthday present. I was unable to be with him for his 13th birthday, a big one! So we headed to lunch at a restaurant called "Claim Jumpers" (good food and a lot of it). After that we went to iFly Seattle, an indoor skydiving establishment. We suited up and after getting a few minutes of training, headed into basically a vertical wind tunnel one at a time along with an instructor. It was a pretty cool experience, and probably the closest I'll ever get to actual skydiving because of my neck issues. We then headed home and watched "Pacific Rim" at the local theatre. It was actually better than I expected…but I wasn't expecting much. I told my son he could choose any movie he wanted. The movie was a twist on the classic Godzilla movies, where big creatures come out of the water and attack cities. Only giant robots have a chance to beat them. It was full of non stop action for sure!

Friday, July 19, 2013

QTC - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 41

This morning for PT we gathered around in a circle with an NCO in the middle. The NCO basically just went around the circle asking people for exercises to do. We did push-ups, crunches, air squats and the like for a reasonably short time. Because everyone here is on profile it was just a given that if you can't do the current exercise, just do an alternate that you can do. We then walked around the WTB complex a few times and called it a day.

I headed straight to my car and took a much needed nap, then ate breakfast while listening to the radio while still in my car. Once finished I headed to the SFAC to do my morning army email check, then headed to the gym and changed into my civilian clothes. After that I headed to the library and proceeded to study. Now that I'm finally enrolled in a class I can pass the time constructively at least.

I headed to the SFAC for lunch and then printed off my LES, 30 days of bank transactions, and the 3 credit reports available from These were all needed for an upcoming ACAP class I have next week. I then headed to one of my QTC appointments located off post. The clinic was in Tacoma, actually on my way home to Bremerton. I arrived pretty early and spent some time on my laptop in my car in the parking lot. I had forgot how many interesting people there are in Tacoma…definitely not a place I would want to live…or work in the future. Finally I headed into my appointment. The QTC appointment is done for the VA by an independent doctor so they can get results from both the army doctors as well as civilian doctors to make their decision.

The appointment went over all of my claims except my hearing loss claim. The doctor measured my range of motion in my neck, knee, and left shoulder. They took X-rays of my left shoulder and knee. He also did some neurological tests on me, such as reaching my arms out and touching my nose with my eyes closed. Then came the strange part…I had to drop my pants and have the infamous "cough" test where he grabs my balls and tells me to cough. It got even worse after that…he had to "check my oil". The doctor had me lay sideways on the table and then proceeded to lube up his finger and stick it up my butt! Not a fun experience I have to say. I went in because I had headaches and the doctor sticks his finger up my butt…not exactly how I planned the visit to go. He gave me some paper towels to clean up all the lube and stepped out for a moment to give me a little privacy. Like he didn't just violate any privacy I had! I wiped it all up and tossed the used paper towels in the garbage. He came back in and went over a few more things before I was let go. I left feeling like I just took a huge dump…and felt that way for a couple hours. Hopefully he found everything he needed. I headed home and relaxed…hoping never to relive that experience for a long long while.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Organization Day + Brain Scan - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 40

An image from the internet just to give you an idea of what
an MRI scan on your brain looks like. My setup was
almost exactly like this one. 

There was no PT this morning, instead we were supposed to form up at 0815 at Cowen Stadium for our battalion organizational day. This of course means I arrive 15 minutes early, so I was there at 0800. We formed up and stood for 30 minutes before they decided to move us to the bleachers. Once we were all sitting, the battalion commander gave a little speech and described the events for day. Once he finished about half the people just got up and left.

I headed to my car and did some studying for school, then took a nap. When I woke up, I headed back to the field and checked out everything that was going on. They had various events that people were competing in, the one going on when I came back was "sit volleyball". In the middle of the field they had a very low volley ball net setup and had two teams of 6 playing each other…while sitting. I checked out the vendors that were there, various schools and military resources. The way it was described beforehand had me thinking there would be a lot of food vendors as well, but that was not the case. In fact they just had a big BBQ setup, but it turned out that lunch was not going to meet the commanders promise of "no later than 11:30". I was getting a little hungry and in turn a little grouchy, so I headed across the street to Subway and just bought lunch. If I would have known it was going to be setup like it was, I would have just brought my own lunch. It was going to take forever to serve everyone, once they even got everything going that is.

I headed back to my car and hung out until I could leave for my MRI appointment. At the hospital I checked in early and was taken in pretty quickly. Once I laid on down the tech asked me what kind of music I like. I said rock…he asked "classic rock?" and I said sure. He put some big headphones on me and then gave me a panic button to hold in my hand. Some folks get a little claustrophobic once inside and can use the button to stop the MRI and get pulled out. Once ready to go the tech went in the control room and then The Doors "People Are Strange" started blasting through my headphones. It was a little strange listening to that as they scan my brain. The scan took about 15 minutes and then I was good to go. I headed out and headed home.

One of the nice things about being back home is that I am close to family. My grandmother had to go to the emergency room and I was able to swing by the hospital after going home. One of my worst fears while being stationed halfway around the world for the last few years was not being able to be there for my family. They ended up admitting my grandmother overnight because it turns out she has pneumonia. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

1st Full Day in Bravo - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 39

I headed to morning formation in summer PTs…for the first time in a while. It's still a bit chilly in the morning to be wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt…everyone including me was a bit cold standing there in formation. After accountability those that could run headed off on a run. Since we are a WTB everyone here is broken in some way or another, so there were only about 5 people out of the whole company that could do the run. The rest of us walked about 5 laps around the WTB complex and then called it a day.

I headed to the gym to change and then had breakfast in my car. The WTB does not want people just sitting in their rooms doing nothing, so you are basically pushed hard to either do an internship with a federal agency or go to school. I am already going to school, so I have to get all the paperwork together stating that this is what I'm doing and get it signed off. This involves a visit to the occupational therapist, while there I will also check into internships as well. It turns out there is an I.T. internship available at PSNS (the local shipyard near my house in Bremerton). I met with the HR folks at a little job fair they were having in the SFAC and inquired about it a bit. It would be nice to not make the long drive to Ft. Lewis which includes a bridge toll every day. I'll be looking into that as soon as I can see the occupational therapist.

I headed to the Bravo HR office and finished up the last of the paperwork we started yesterday. I had to digitally sign a few things, then headed off to do the actual in-processing with my new NCM. We chatted for almost an hour discussing everything from my treatment so far, medications, and appointments. She seems really easy going, I don't think I'll have any issues with her at all.

Back downstairs at the SFAC, I had lunch and then headed to the library to finish out the day. I started my new class "Human Resources" of all things. One of the required classes for my degree unfortunately.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Transfer - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 38

The lobby for the WTB company offices. This is where I hung out 
each time I needed to meet with someone from the company.
Also where we hang out for all the pee tests.

I headed to morning formation in ACUs once again. I actually thought I was going to get transferred to Bravo company first thing in the morning, but found out it will happen at 1300. I then proceeded to head back to my car to eat the breakfast I packed. After breakfast is of course my morning nap…how I can sleep right after drinking coffee is beyond me, but I do just fine.

After my nap I headed to the MRI clinic and scheduled an appointment to scan my brain. You have to schedule appointments in person in order to fill out a brief medical history form. I was able to schedule one for this Thursday…surprisingly a pretty quick turn-around.

Next stop was the library. I hung out there surfing the web and instant messaging my wife while enjoying the air conditioning. I headed to the SFAC to have lunch and then headed upstairs to the HHC headquarters looking for my squad leader. He was nowhere to be found. I just hung out in the lobby figuring he would come by at some point. He did indeed come by a half hour later…no matter I was in no rush anyway.

My squad leader then grabbed my paperwork from his desk and took me to Bravo company. He then handed me over to their HR department. I answered a few questions and was told I'd be in 1st platoon, 3rd squad and my new squad leader's name. Once finished with HR she took me to meet my new squad leader. He seems like a decent enough guy. I guess time will tell if he is any better than my last one. I then had to fill out an initial counseling statement, which went through the policies of Bravo company. (Mainly your basic common sense type stuff). I then was taken to meet my new NCM (nurse case manager). I should now keep this one throughout the rest of my time here at the WTB. The NCM is basically my central point of contact for everything and I have to meet with her weekly. This was basically a short hello because she didn't have enough time to actually in-process me and give me a proper greeting. So we rescheduled that for tomorrow.

I then checked with my squad leader and he said I was good to go and could leave for the day…so I promptly left and headed home.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

BrewFest & The Legacy - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 35 & 36

A sample picture of the new car we purchased

We took my father-in-law's car that we have been using in for an oil change early Saturday morning. One thing I love about Peninsula Subaru's service is that if you purchase a car (new or used) from them, you get free oil changes for life. As we were waiting we wondered around the showroom. We need another car because my wife and I will no longer be working in the same area anymore. Since we've been dating, we've either worked at the same company or have worked very close to each other, so a second car was never needed. We planned on looking around Subaru and my wife wanted to test drive some cars from other lots on Sunday. As it turned out we ended up test driving a new Subaru Legacy and loved it. I love Subarus because of the way they handle in the bad weather we have here in the pacific northwest each winter. We had been looking at an Outback, but decided on the Legacy after giving it a test drive. I finally have a car with Bluetooth, so I can answer my phone hands-free…it's been a long time coming. So we go in for an oil change and leave with a new car…lol.

We then headed to downtown Bremerton and attended the 3rd annual BrewFest. We had attended the first one while I was on leave from Korea, but missed the second one. It was a lot of fun! We met up with a number of friends and tried samples of the various local breweries goods. Some beers were good and some were downright awful! After that we headed to a local brewery and restaurant close by called "Der Blokken". The food was good and the company was good. All in all it was a great weekend. I found the more I drank, the less pain I had in my head…by the end of the day I was feeling no pain at all. I wonder if I can get a prescription for this??

Friday, July 12, 2013

Turn in Packet - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 34

I headed to the morning formation in ACUs as usual. After we all fell out, we formed up in little groups with each of our squad leaders. Our current replacement squad leader then chose me and one other person and told us to meet him at his desk at 0900 for a cleaning detail. Damn! I need to start making sure I have appointments in the morning. One thing I've really grown to hate since joining the army is cleaning up after other people…especially higher ranking people. I guess it just makes me feel like a servant. People should clean up after themselves…period.

So I headed to my car and ate breakfast as usual. Unfortunately I found out I forgot my phone, so there would be no way to pass the time by checking Facebook, twitter, the news, and games all day long. A smart phone is awesome for all those times you find yourself doing the army thing "Hurry Up and Wait".

I headed into the SFAC and checked my army email, then finished out one more required training that I was told to do. The training was literally just signing up for it and hitting next until completed, then you can print our a certificate. I was done in 3.5 seconds….lol.

I then headed to the alternate squad leader and gave him the training certificate so he could complete my transfer packet. Then I was off to see the replacement squad leader for the detail. As luck would have it, they didn't need me anymore…whatever needed to be done was already finished. That was good, because I was already pissed off in my head about being selected for the stupid detail.

I then headed to my favorite hangout so far…the library. The rest of my very exciting day was spent in the library with my laptop except for a minor break for lunch when I headed to the SFAC to heat up my leftovers. After that it was back to the library to hang out some more.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Town Hall & Medal of Honor - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 33

A picture I found on the web of SFC Leroy Petry receiving his medal of honor
We did not have a morning formation this morning, instead we were told to arrive at transportation at 0700 for rides to the Evergreen Theatre for the mandatory battalion Town Hall meeting. We all started to arrive and then found out that rides would not be leaving until 0800. I headed back to my car and listened to the radio for a while. Unfortunately I don't know where the Evergreen Theatre is on post yet, so I couldn't just drive there myself. The vans started leaving at 0800 and I was able to catch a ride on the first one. We then waited outside the theatre until everyone was there, then had our morning formation before heading in.

The town hall had the battalion commander speak and then a few other folks. The main attraction was the last speaker, Medal of Honor recipient SFC Leroy Petry. You can view the army's website about him here. His story was pretty impressive. He was a ranger and after many deployments to the middle east, he found himself in a firefight with the enemy. He ended up losing his right hand after picking up a grenade that landed next to his soldiers. He tried to throw it back, but it detonated right as it left his hand. He spoke about his life before and after the event. You can tell that he's just a normal guy just trying to do the best he can. I expected a boring town hall meeting, but being able to see and hear this guy talk was pretty inspiring.

I caught the transportation back to the WTB and then hung out in my car for a bit before having lunch in the SFAC. I then had a "comprehensive transition planning" meeting. I was told the meeting was in room 366 in the same building HHC is located. I arrive on the third floor and have two options. Take a left and go to Bravo company headquarters or take a right and go to Charlie company headquarters. I figure since I'm going to Bravo next week this meeting must be in the Bravo company headquarters. I head into the office and start looking around for room 366. I finally ask a couple NCOs if room 366 is over here or in Charlie company. They ask why I'm looking for it. I reply that I'm here for the comprehensive transition planning meeting. The NCOs tell me that the meeting will be around the corner and to wait there. I wait…and wait. One of the squad leaders from HHC comes up and starts waiting with me. Finally my NCM comes in and says our meeting is actually over in Charlie company…in room 366! If those NCOs would have just told me where room 366 was, I would have went over there in the first place. I don't know if they were just being dicks, or if they just didn't know.

Anyway, the comprehensive transition planning meeting is something that has to take place before I get moved to Bravo company. This is a meeting that is done every 90 days and goes over my goals for the next 3 months. They are in the same fields that I had to do earlier when I first arrived. Easy fields such as "physical", "career" and "family" are pretty easily taken care of. I want to finish my degree and be in less pain. I want to spend more time with my family. Of course everything has to be measurable, so I have to come up with exact numbers. The harder ones are "spiritual" and "social" which had to be done as well. It's hard to come up with a measurable goal. I came up with something along the lines of go out to events a certain number of times a month.

After the meeting I still had time to get the rest of my in-processing done and purchase a new pair of sunglasses. I don't know how, but when I went to put on my current pair they were all broken. So after a quick stop at the PX and $20 later I had a new pair. I would have bought cheaper ones, but that was the cheapest they had. I never want to spend any significant amount on sunglasses because I either lose them, or they break. I hung out in my car until the end of day formation, then headed home.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ACAP & In-Processing - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 32

My drive home back into Bremerton...a big navy town. 
Always a pretty amazing site to see these huge aircraft carriers

This morning I headed to morning formation in ACUs and after formation my name was called along with a few others. At first I thought "oh great…another pee test". It turns out that it wasn't for a pee test, but was just to inform me that I would be moving to Bravo company next week. I had actually started to wonder about this because I had heard that people were only in HHC company for a month before being transferred. This is already day 32.

I headed back to my car and ate breakfast, then headed to an ACAP (Army Career and Alumni Program) appointment. ACAP is the process every soldier has to go through before they get out of the army now. It is mainly to provide the soldier with all the resources he needs before separating from the army. This meeting was just to register me for all the required classes that I need to finish in order to complete the program.

The squad leader that talked to me this morning then gave me a call. He asked me to come to his office and bring all my in-processing paperwork. I headed up there and showed him what I had so far. He has been the only squad leader working for the last couple weeks because the others have been on leave. So he was tasked with getting my packet ready to transfer to Bravo company. I wish I would have had this squad leader the entire time because he was extremely helpful. He had a list of notes for every place that a new soldier needs to do for each in-processing station. All the ones I had remaining were ones that I wasn't sure where to go and I was waiting for my squad leader to come back. I took his notes and then headed off to finish my in-processing.

The first place was the security office and even with the extra help and instructions, I still spent quite a while trying to find their actual office. The building number is not marked and when I finally asked someone for help, they brought me into another building that is connected via several hallways to the building I was looking for. I finished in-processing there and one other place before taking my lunch break in the SFAC.

The rest of the day was spent running around trying to finish up my in-processing. I was able to get almost everything done. I did make it to every place, but some of the folks where out of the office. I'll try them again tomorrow. If I would have had these helpful instructions when I started, I would have finished up a long time ago.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back to "Work"...Again - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 31

I put work in quotes because what I'm doing now is anything but work. I just want to hurry up and get this process over with, get out of the army and continue my life as a civilian where I can find a job, and actually do the job I was hired for. Anyway…enough of that. The day was pretty much my usual routine as of lately. I headed to morning formation in my ACUs and after the formation headed back to my car to eat my breakfast and then take a nice nap.

I then headed to the library where I hung out until lunch time. Lunch time was spent in the SFAC, then I headed back to the library. I did a little searching and think I may pursue the Apple Certified Associate Certification. I could probably pass the test now because of all my history working as a Macintosh system administrator, but I'll use some of this extra time to do a little studying before taking the test.

I headed to evening formation and then headed home. Another day down and another day closer to getting out…whenever that may be.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Back to "Work" - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 30

This morning I headed to morning formation in ACUs once again. I really had no reason to other than I don't have any desire to "work out" with the company. Because everyone is on profile, the PT sessions usually end up being a walk around the complex a few times after stretching out. Because I live an hour away, I would have to head to the gym to change afterwards and it would just be a pain.

I headed to my car where I ate my packed breakfast and listened to the radio. I dropped off my "homework" paperwork at the VA claims office, where I had the meeting last week. I then just hung out in my car and watched last weekend's UFC 162 on my laptop in my car until lunch time.

I had my lunch in the SFAC so I could make use of their microwave and tables. After that I headed to the library where I finished up watching the UFC 162…using my headphones of course. OMG the main event was crazy! Anderson Silva, who many consider the best pound for pound fighter in the world got knocked out. He was showboating and it cost him his belt. It was pretty crazy…everyone was shocked! I wish I would have watched it at a local bar or something so I could have seen everyone's reactions.

I continued to hang out in the library until 1600 formation. I can't wait until my class starts in a couple weeks, then at least I'll feel like I'm doing something productive. I can't believe this process takes 9-12 months! I can't imagine just coming to "work" everyday to the library.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend Wrap-Up (Independence Day 4-Day) - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 26 - 29

Just starting to get dark and the fireworks are starting to begin

This 4-day weekend was the 4th of July. We spent the 4th with my family at my grandma's house on the water. It was the first time that I've been able to see a lot of my extended family since I joined the army. It was awesome just hanging out, eating and having a few beers, and just "being" with my family. This is the stuff I really missed while being stationed so far away from my home.

For the rest of the long weekend we hung out at my in-laws quite a bit. We still don't have any furniture or utensils, so we do most of our eating at their house. They had some new furniture that was delivered and we were able to make use of some of the old furniture at our house. Now we actually have a place to sit inside our house while we wait for our furniture to arrive.

I was also able to spend time with my more immediate family at my sisters house. The holiday weekend was pretty awesome…I'm so glad to be back home!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Neurology & Chipotle - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 37

Headed to morning formation in ACUs and then had breakfast in my car as usual. At 0900 I had a neurology appointment. I arrived and after filling out some paperwork, I hung out in the lobby until 0930 when I was finally called back. The appointment consisted mainly of bringing the neurologist up to speed with my history. He did a few tests and took down a lot of notes. He then left and came back with another neurologist and after asking me some more questions, they came up with a plan of action. I'm going to keep taking the nightly medication I'm currently taking, but up the dosage after two weeks. I'm also going to get an MRI of my head to rule some things out. Both of them think (as do I) that all the pain I've been having in my head are caused by the damaged area in my neck (degenerative disks). They have some plans to work on the headaches from that angle, and after talking with them I feel optimistic for the first time in a long time. I have started to think that I'll be living in a lot of pain for the rest of my life. I then started looking into what pain medications might do the trick and ease this pain, but if the doctors can eliminate the source of the pain that would be even better!

I then left and headed to the city of Kent, which is a Seattle suburb and also happens to be where my wife is working at the moment. The drive is about a half hour and we met for lunch. I then went in and met all her co-workers. I hung out there until about 1400 before heading back to Ft. Lewis. Once back I hung out in my car until about 1530, then headed to where our evening formation is located. I waited and waited, but nobody showed up. Evidently they either cancelled it, or changed the time. Either way my squad leader didn't bother to text or call me. I just left and headed home…what a waste of time.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

VA Claim - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 25

A view from the parking lot on the far side of the WTB
 with Madigan hospital in the background. When the battalion forms up, 
it's in front of this portion of the WTB. This also shows the proximity of
the WTB and the hospital.

Headed to the morning formation in ACUs as usual. In addition to the accountability check and the morning salute, we were given the 4-day safety brief from our first sergeant…the normal stuff (don't drink and drive, don't blow yourself up with fireworks, etc). I ate breakfast in my car and then headed to an appointment I had at 0730. I wasn't sure what exactly the appointment was for, but knew I had to bring my bank information and my dependent information. When I arrived I found out this appointment was for the VA claims process. I was officially having my VA claim filled out and submitted. The guy working with me took down all my information such as basic information like the date I joined, more personal information such as my dependent's birthdays and social security numbers, and then some financial information such as my bank's routing number and my account number. I couldn't remember the date I was married to my ex-wife, or even the date our divorce was final. I guess I did a brain dump and tried to erase anything I could from that failed marriage. This gave me some "homework" as I had to take that particular piece of paperwork home and get that information put on it. Finally we went over my actual claims. All the briefs I've been to so far have stressed to put down everything no matter what. So I officially claimed my neck injury, my headaches, my loss of hearing/constant ringing in ears, my knee injury, and finally a shoulder injury I had in Korea during PT.

When we finished the worker said he noticed that I didn't have any behavioral health issues to list. I guess most guys coming through the WTB have mental health issues. I'm sure I could come up with a few if I wanted, but I think I'm a pretty normal guy with no mental issues. So the paperwork was finished and I took my "homework" and headed off.

I made my way to the recycle station on post, mainly to check it out…but also to drop off some of the cardboard that was left when the movers dropped off our unaccompanied baggage. We still have quite a few boxes left, but I wanted to do a little recon before loading up my car with a ton of cardboard.

My next stop was the library parking lot where I promptly took a nap in my car. After my nap I headed into the library and hung out for a while. Most people in the WTB have rooms in the barracks and I think they probably just hang out in their rooms all day. I live an hour away (by choice), so the air conditioned library is my hangout now!

I headed to my car for lunch and then back to the library until our mandatory 1300 battalion formation. We formed up outside the WTB complex and this is the first time I've seen the whole battalion. The WTB battalion consists of my current company (HHC) along with A, B, & C company…there are a lot of broken people here (of course)! We then got to hear another safety brief for the 4-day weekend from the battalion commander, because just one safety brief isn't enough.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sick NCM - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 24

Headed to the morning formation in ACUs because I had a 0830 appointment with my NCM. After formation I headed to my car and took a nap as usual. I woke up and headed to my NCM's office only to find that she was out today…I guess because of illness, but I'm not quite sure. I'm not sure what that means for me. We are supposed to meet with our NCM once a week. The NCM usually sets up more appointments for me and lets me know where and when I have to be at them. I guess I'll just wait for her to call me when she does come back in.

I headed to the library which I'm thinking is going to be my new hangout…at least during the summer while it's warm out. I spent the day either surfing around on my laptop, reading from my iPad, or playing games on my iPhone. Such is life when you're in the WTB.

I headed to my car to eat lunch, listen to the radio and take a nap. When I was all refreshed from my nap, I headed back into the library to do pretty much the same thing I did earlier. The library does have some nice little study areas where I can setup my laptop and type. I think these will also be handy once I start my classes again.

Finally I headed to our evening formation. After we all formed up they sent half of the folks one way and the other half the opposite way to do a police call around the WTB complex. The nice thing is that everyone did it…officers and enlisted alike, which is the only fair way to do it if I have to clean up after other people.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hotel Reimbursement - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 23

My new hang out inside the library on post

I headed to the morning formation in my ACUs because I wanted to head to the finance office as soon as possible. After the formation I headed to Waller Hall and found out that the finance office doesn't open until 0830, so I headed back to my car and took a nap. I finally received my travel pay for the PCS move, so now I can move ahead with the hotel reimbursement.

I headed in a little after 0830 and was surprised at how many people were already waiting. There are three different books at the finance desk, each one serves a different purpose. The one I needed was the "Travel" book and luckily there were only 3 others in front of me. The problem was they only had one person working for the first 20 minutes or so, and that one person never even checked out the "Travel" book. Finally another person started working the desk and processing through each of the names in the "Travel" book. When mine was called I found out that I had to fill out 3 sheets of paperwork for them to process my claim. I sat down at a nearby desk and got to work. When I finished and turned them in, I also had to provide a copy of my orders and was told I should receive the reimbursement 15 days from tomorrow. I'm glad that is all taken care of finally!

I headed to the SFAC and checked my army email on their computers. I also had my weekly self assessment to complete. The assessment goes over each area of your life and you have to rate each one. If anything is rated other than "no problems", you have to write something in the comment section. Mine is always the same…no problems in everything except "medication" and "pain". The medication doesn't take away the pain, but does usually put a dent in it.

I headed out to the lobby of the SFAC and used my laptop with headphones to finish up UFC 161. I had been doing this in my car, but today it's way too hot. Anytime I'm outside with the full uniform on, I start sweating and inside the car it's multiplied. I went to have my lunch in the SFAC dining area, but some workers had the only 4 tables all covered up with construction paper. I guess they are too worried about decorating for the WTB soldiers than actually letting us use the facilities. I headed outside and was able to find a table in the shade to eat.

I decided to check out the library. One thing I found out very quickly was that you don't want to travel anywhere near the PX during lunch hours! It took me forever to get to the library because of all the traffic on post. Luckily I have air conditioning! When I arrived at the library, I was amazed at how many people were inside utilizing the computers! The place was packed! I headed to the edge where they have single desk work/study areas. I was able to setup my laptop at one of these and access the free wireless internet that is available. Even with the A/C on in the library it was hot. I'm not sure what the rules are for wearing the uniform in the library, but I had to take the ACU top off while I was there. That helped quite a bit, but it was still hot. Usually living in western Washington, one does not have to deal with the heat like this…but there are those few days a year that we call summer.

I headed to our evening formation which is at 1600. I used to always arrive fairly early, but have started arriving closer and closer to 1600 because nobody used to show up until almost 1600 anyway. Well at some point I guess word was put out that formation was at 1545 today. I showed up and everyone was pretty much there already. I don't really give a crap…nobody told me anything. I showed up and the NCO gathered everyone around and put out that our weekend safety brief will be at 1300 on Wednesday because of the holiday 4-day weekend. He then dismissed everyone.