Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Follow-Up Appointment (Life After The Army)

This morning I had a follow up appointment I made because my prescriptions (pain killers) were running low. I called about a month and a half ago and this was the first date I could get. Luckily I had just about enough pain killers left by my calculations. My pain is pretty much a constant these days. I do have some good days, but I average about 2 to 4 pain killers a day. I am continuing to see a massage therapist once a week and a chiropractor twice a month both using my civilian insurance.

My VA doctor is nice enough, but I felt rushed the entire time. I’m not sure if it’s because he just has too many patents to see, or maybe because it’s the day before Thanksgiving. He did put in a refill for my pain killers and after looking over my blood work from earlier this month and said I should be taking 2000 IU of vitamin D daily. I gave him my medical records from the army, which he asked me to bring in. After that he said I need to have my blood work done again in 6 months and see him again in a year. He then got up and opened the door for me to go. I was a little shocked, I guess I just expected a little more time to go over how I’m feeling, maybe see if there is something better than Vicodin for pain killers. I just expected a little more personalized attention after waiting so long for the appointment. Instead I felt like a number that just needed to be checked off. Prescribe more pain killers and move on to the next.

Luckily I work for a company that is very understanding. At least once a week I end up having to leave early because my head is killing me. A few times a week I’m able to take an hour or so and just lay down on the floor in a vacant office with the lights off & ice on my neck, which is usually enough to help me get through the day. I guess I was just hoping for the VA doctor to have something that would help me out a little more. Now it will be a year before I see him again. So I guess it’s the same ol’ same ol’ for another year. I’m thinking about using my civilian insurance or my Tri-Care insurance to see another doctor. Maybe I’ll get some better service and some more individualized care.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

To Say the VA is Slow is an Understatement (Life After The Army)

I noticed my last couple of deposits from the VA were a bit smaller. I wasn’t even sure where to start checking in order to find out why. I logged into the eBenefits site ( which is where I can see the deposits made, but that is about all it shows. I then happened across the claims portion of the website. It was there that I realized what the heck was going on. Back in July I received a letter from the VA stating the dates each of my kids turn 18 and the drop in my compensation each time one of my kids turn 18. The drop isn’t much (around $30), but it is noticeable. The letter also included forms that I could fill out if my kids will still be going to school after they are 18, which is the case of my oldest daughter. She turned 18 in September, but is still only a senior in high school. I filled out the forms and returned them with all the required information stating when and where my daughter will be attending high school. I wanted to make sure she was still covered under my insurance even though she was 18. I didn’t care too much about the drop in the monthly payment. Mind you that I filled out and returned these forms the moment I received them in July.

Now it’s November and I see in eBenefits that my claim is “under review” and the estimated claim completion date is 1/4/2015 to 5/25/2015! By the time they get the claim processed my daughter will have almost already graduated! To say I was shocked was a little bit of an understatement. I can’t believe a simple form like the one I sent in is going to take so freakin’ long to process. It should only take a matter of minutes, but this is the VA we’re talking about. I really hate dealing with any government office!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Careful Review (Life After The Army)

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted an update. Not a lot has happened in regards to the army or the VA. I’ve been living my normal civilian life and loving it. I really like my job, I do I.T. work all day everyday. I also enjoy the fact now that it’s getting a little colder outside I can decide if I want to wear a sweatshirt, long sleeves or even a coat if I want. I don’t have to stand around in a stupid morning formation freezing my ass off in shorts and a t-shirt because some NCO decides it’s not really cold enough to wear winter PTs yet.

About my health not a lot has changed. I’m still in pain almost every single day to some degree and I’m popping pills daily. A little over a month ago I asked my VA doctor if he could write a referral to a local massage therapy establishment so I could use my civilian insurance and start utilizing their services. My VA doctor said they do not do massage therapy referrals, but they would write up a referral for chiropractic care. I was already going to the chiropractor on my own, but I gave them my chiropractor’s information and didn’t think too much about it.

It turned out that I didn’t need a referral from my doctor to use my civilian insurance for the massage therapy. So I have been getting a massage once a week and going to the chiropractor twice a month. I totally forgot about the my VA doctor’s referral until I received a letter in the mail from the VA. The letter stated that after “careful consideration” they have rejected my VA doctor’s referral for chiropractic care. The reason…because I’m still active duty. LOL. That is some “careful review” from the VA. I’ve been out of the army for 5 months! I then sent my local VA doctor an email letting him know about the letter and stating that it seems as if the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. The local VA clinic said that I need to call the VA to get it all straightened out…I think not, I didn’t even ask for the referral for chiropractic in the first place. It doesn’t really matter because I’m using my civilian insurance, but it just makes me glad that I don’t have to depend on the VA for much. In truth I try to stay away from the VA as much as possible. Dealing with them is similar to dealing with the army…so much paperwork and so little common sense.

When I think back now about my time in the army from a professional and technical standpoint, I see that I really fell behind. When I joined, all my peers in the I.T. industry kept moving ahead, while I actually moved backwards. With technology, you have to be hands on and in the middle of all the ever changing trends. When I got out of the army and started my civilian I.T. job, I had to do quite a bit of catch up in order to get back up to speed. It’s been about 5 months now and I’m finally feeling like my head is above water. Instead of hitting the ground running, I had to crawl for a while, but I’m getting back up to speed slowly. Luckily I landed a good job with a great company.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Army Pay vs VA Pay (Life After The Army)

I may have mentioned this earlier…but here it goes again. When you medically retire out of the army, you get army medical retirement pay depending on your disability percentage. In my case I received a percentage of 40% from the army and 50% from the VA. You cannot receive both army retirement and VA compensation, so you have to choose one or the other. Army retirement pay is taxed, but VA pay is not taxed. This was an easy choice for me because I don’t want to pay taxes and the VA pay is more. I was told the VA pay can take up to 90 days (or more) in order to get processed and to get the monthly paychecks deposited. The nice thing is that the army retirement pay will start paying you each month after your retirement kicks in and will continue until the VA pay starts. In my situation I started receiving my VA pay today, which is the first month either would have kicked in. My last official day in the army was May 28th, this put me in as a retiree on June 1st…so the first paycheck is the following month.

SPC Mac asked me which pay I received. His last day was early May, but this still put him in as a retiree in June the same as me. He received his army retirement check, which is smaller and is taxed. When he inquired about it, they said he should receive his VA pay on the first of next month. It’s strange how even though he was out before me, I still beat him in the VA system. He has since moved back to Germany where his wife and son stayed and got a civilian job at one of the military bases, which will give him and his family logistical support. (this allows them to stay in Germany as long as he has the job including use of his own car). I’d love to go visit him as a civilian, it would be a heck of a lot more fun as a civilian vs a soldier. His life has improved a 100 fold…so much less stress. He’s loving it!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Medications (Life After The Army)

After a couple of follow-up calls I finally received my medications in the mail today. I was a little surprised because it is in much larger quantities. Now I don’t have to stress out about running out of meds. I mentioned previously that I’ve also been doing some alternative treatments like the chiropractor and massage therapy. I also received my green card from an alternative doctor. In addition to taking some extra supplements such as magnesium, fish oil, and turmeric I’ve also started using a cannabinoid therapy cream. My wife rubs that stuff on my neck, shoulders and upper back. Once that is on there and sits for a bit, it all starts feeling better. Surprisingly it helps my wife’s hands as well, they recover much faster from giving me a massage.

I still have good days and bad days. They seem to come in waves…I’ll have a few good days in a row when the pain is tolerable and doesn’t impact my daily life much at all. I can take some pain meds and I’m feeling better…not to say the pain is gone, I’m aware of it…but it doesn’t keep me from going about my daily activities as I normally would. Then there are the streaks of bad days where it seems like no matter how many pain meds I take the pain is very severe and it’s hard to get anything done.

The pain meds the VA has prescribed me are Vicodin (Hydrocodone/Acetaminophen) which is what they are having me try instead of Percocet, which is what the army prescribed me for my moderate to severe pain. The Vicodin seems quite a bit weaker when compared to Percocet. Instead of taking just one Percocet, I have to end up taking multiple Vicodin and the relief isn’t as good. I guess it’s better than nothing, but I may see if I can get something a bit stronger next time I go in.

I’m also taking Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine) which is a muscle relaxer. I usually only take this on an as needed basis and at nighttime because it makes me pretty tired. This is the exact same muscle relaxer I was prescribed while in the army.

Finally the VA doctor wanted me to try out something called Gabapentin. I take this 3 times a day and it’s supposed to help relieve neuropathic pain. I’m hoping it does something, I’ll take any pain relief I can get. On the packaging it says not to take any magnesium, so I’ll quit taking that particular supplement my alternative doctor recommended.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Labs (Life After The Army)

I headed back to the VA this morning to get my blood drawn. The office opens up at 0800, so I went there as soon as possible. I had a massage last Wednesday, which my civilian insurance covers. I am hoping massage therapy will help with all my neck, shoulder, and upper back issues. The first one ended up giving me a migraine which woke me up at 0300 in the morning. I had to call in sick Thursday because of it. Today I’m feeling better, but still have a lot of pain and no eating or drinking is not helping at all. Luckily the process went pretty quick. All lab work is done on a walk in basis and I took my number and waited about 10-15 minutes. They drew 6 little tubes of blood and then sent me on my way. I also was able to sign up for secure messaging with my care team. I guess I can now send messages to my team from the website once it’s all setup. I will then be able to try and figure out about my prescriptions.

Monday, June 2, 2014

First VA Appointment (Life After The Army)

I headed to my first VA appointment today. The VA has been getting a lot of negative press lately in the news, so I let my co-workers know that I’m heading to the VA…and I might not be coming back! Fortunately there is a small VA out-patient clinic located in Bremerton. I don’t have to drive all the way to Tacoma and go to the big hospital. I had to fill out some paperwork, then saw the pharmacist to go over all my current medications. I then saw my doctor, a Chinese dude whose accent makes him pretty hard to understand. After filling out some more paperwork he said I’m not showing up in the system correctly…I’m still showing up as active duty. This doesn’t surprise me one bit. Nothing seems to go smoothly with the military and the government. He wants me to get labs done (blood drawn), so I have to come in at some point next week and cannot eat or drink anything in the morning until I get the blood drawn. I asked him about my prescription refills and he said first I need to do the blood work and then maybe my status in the system will be fixed. So I left confused as to when I will actually be getting my refills. Luckily I’ve stockpiled a bit, so I have a little time…but not a whole lot.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Update: End of Terminal Leave (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord)

Wrote the following message on Facebook today:

“Today I am officially out of the last day of terminal leave was yesterday. While I could mention hundreds (OK...maybe thousands) of negatives about my army experience...instead I’ll focus on the positives:

• Made it through basic training at twice the age of most of the young bucks
• Graduated at the top of my AIT class
• Stationed in the middle of Seoul, Korea and was able to take in quite a bit during this experience
• Ate all kinds of interesting food
• Experienced Korean culture and took advantage of every opportunity available to see the country and historical sites
• Visited the DMZ and even stood a few feet on the North Korean side of the border
• Saw a communist
• Stationed in Germany...right in the middle of Europe
• Met a lot of great people & was able to visit all 3 of my former exchange students
• Visited a number of historical and just plain cool sites in Germany
• Visited England, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, The Czech Republic, The Netherlands & Greece.
• Drank a lot of good beer
• All my first line supervisors were great supervisors…and just good people
• And finally…I was able to complete a long time goal of mine…I finished my bachelor’s degree using tuition assistance from the army

I Made a lot of memories and friends that will last a lifetime.”

After the little bit of reflecting on Facebook, I took a break from work and headed to the naval sub base outside of Silverdale. Once there I went to the DEERS & ID office. I brought my paperwork (DD214 & orders) and had them input me correctly into their system as retired. Once that was done they had to issue me a new retired ID card. Seemed a little strange because I already had a retired ID card that I was issued at Ft. Lewis, but because of all the mess-ups this was the only way to do it. I have a big ass beard at the moment, so my photo looks a bit funny…but I don’t give a damn. I’m just happy to finally get in the system correctly. I am officially retired now!

I then drove back to work and called Tri-Care to get myself and my family enrolled into Tri-Care for retirement. My first attempt ended up getting half way through, then all of a sudden a dial tone. I was a little pissed off, but took a breath and started the process all over. Dial the number, listen to the recording, speak to a computer, state social security number, name and birth date. Once a real person gets on the line I then have to give all that same information again (social security number, name, & birth date). I then explain to the person that I’m trying to enroll myself and my family into Tri-Care for retirement. The person transfers me to the agent that will help me…I then have to once again give my social security number, name, & birth date. I was a little irritated, but a sweet girl on the other end was really helpful and got me all setup and enrolled finally. The lady was very patient and helpful, I couldn’t have asked for a better person on the other end…especially after getting a little pissed off earlier. I had to make the first 3 month’s payments while on the phone, which was fine. At $45 a month, 3 months payment is still cheaper than what I would have to pay on the civilian side.

I’m now completely set…I don’t have to stress out about getting all of this done now. My next step will be getting my actual army retirement check. If all goes as planned, this should happen on the 1st of July. I will hit the retirement system on the 1st of June and then the first check comes on the 1st of the next month.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Lab Results & VA Award Letter (Life After The Army)

Life has been back to normal since leaving the army, which is what I pretty much expected. I was a civilian a lot longer than I was a soldier and because of that I think I had a totally different mindset the entire time I was in the army…and probably why a lot of things bothered me. I really did feel like a civilian in an army uniform throughout my army career. I have been working my I.T. job and actually doing I.T. work on a daily basis (you know…actually doing the job I was hired to do).

I received my lab results via a letter from the VA. The paperwork shows a bunch of numbers and results from each test that was done. My blood counts and chemistries with a bunch of numbers including hemoglobin Alc, cholesterol liver, thyroid and vitamin D. Not sure what any of the exact numbers mean, I’ll have to do a little bit of internet research I guess. In the comment section the doctor said I had a high level of SGPT and that I need to abstain from drinking alcohol…I don’t drink much at all now, so no problem. My guess is that any liver damage I have is because of too many over the counter pain killers and all the meds I’ve been prescribed. I also have a vitamin D deficiency…well I do live in Washington State where it rains a lot! - Advice: a vitamin D supplement. I also have elevated bad cholesterol - Advice: diet and exercise. I have an elevated blood glucose level - Advice: diet and exercise.

I have to say that I have gone a little crazy since getting out of the army when it comes to being lazy and eating all kinds of crap. I can’t really do any strenuous exercises because of my pain and issues, but I will do a better job of eating. I’m going to add fish to my diet at least once a week and cut back on all the junk food even though my sweet tooth will be a little upset. I am 40 now and I can’t just eat everything I desire like I used to. I also downloaded a free app called “Breeze” which tracks the steps I’m taking. It sets goals and reminds you to get your butt in gear if you need to. I’m using my lunch break to go for a walk each day (weather permitting)…this will also help with the vitamin D! I’m also trying to drink a lot more water. These are my first steps to a healthier me. I have to get all the tests done again in 3 months, so I’m sure they will be better this next time.

I received my VA Award letter in the mail today. I thought everything was already done, but this one is the official final letter showing basically the same thing my initial results showed me with the percentages for each of my claimed injuries. What’s nice about this letter is that it shows the exact monthly entitlement amount that I’ll be receiving and the date that it starts. I’m in the system as of June 1st, so I’ll receive my first payment on July 1st. The letter also breaks down each date that my kids turn 18 and my monthly entitlement is reduced. It turns out to be a difference of about $30 to $40 until all my kids are off, then it goes down about $60.

As far as my pain and injuries, I’ve been using my civilian insurance to see a chiropractor twice a month and a massage therapist weekly. Luckily I’ve also stockpiled quite a bit of my pain medications from my time in the army, because I’m still waiting on the VA to prescribe me some. The doctor told me I had to wait until after my blood work was done, but didn’t tell me what to do to actually get the prescriptions. I called the local VA clinic and was routed to my team nurse…well, routed to her voicemail. I left a message and heard from her the next day. I told her I need to start getting my prescriptions. She said she would check with my doctor and get them filled. They are mailed out, so she said if I don’t hear from her everything should be done and on it’s way. Now I sit and wait I guess.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Update: College Graduate (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord)

Thought I’d write a little update now that it’s been a little over a month since my last post. I’m still technically in the army and enjoying the life that is terminal leave. I started my new job the day I went on terminal leave and it’s been great. I’m actually doing I.T. work once again, unlike my time in the army. I work for a great company full of some awesome people. The company actually makes a difference in the community as well. After this first month of working there, I know I made the right job choice and I see myself working here for a very long time.

One of my big goals when joining the army was to get my bachelor’s degree. I’m happy to say that as of today I am now a college graduate. My last two classes officially ended on May 6th, then they did an audit to make sure everything was in order before the graduation was official. It’s been a long long road to get to this point. A lot of hard work taking one class at a time and working on schoolwork most nights, but it is a really great feeling…and a large weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m feeling pretty darn accomplished…and happy. I’ll be taking a little while off before pursuing any more certifications or anything, it will be a welcome break.

As for army news…as I mentioned earlier, I’m extremely happy being on terminal leave…I really enjoy the freedom of being a civilian once again. I have a nice beard I’ve been working on since the first day of terminal leave. I’ve loved being able to wear whatever clothes I deem appropriate for weather conditions or how I feel. I also have been taking advantage of the nice weather and riding my motorcycle to work everyday…unlike the army I don’t need any special training or have special meetings with my boss, I just ride!

I did go on Ft. Lewis a couple weeks back and received my retired military ID card, but it turns out they messed something up. In DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System) they still had my active duty status as November of 2015 and also forced in my retirement date of May 28th 2014…both cannot coexist. This has prevented me from being able to sign up for Tri-Care Prime for me and my family that is provided during retirement. Tri-Care still sees me as being active duty with no retirement date. Leave it to the army to screw things up. Since I’m closer to the naval bases here in the Bremerton area, I drove to the naval sub base near Silverdale and visited their DEERS office with my DD214 and orders in hand. They were able to remove my active duty status, but said I had to come back on the 28th of May in order for them to input my retirement status. This is a little bit of BS because right on the Tri-Care website it states that we can enroll up to 90 days before our retirement date as long as it’s in DEERS. I’m not going to get too stressed out about it. I’ll just take a break at some point during the 28th and make the short trip to their office again. I’m too happy to be out, finally have my degree, and have a great job for this stupid crap to get me down!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Terminal Leave (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 310

I could have went to Ft. Lewis and signed out at midnight last night, but I actually started my new job today. There was no way I was going to mess around with my sleep the night before starting my new job. The day consisted of paperwork with HR and setting up my computer. I left work at around 430 and drove to Ft. Lewis in my civilian clothes and partial beard. I arrived at the WTB staff duty desk and told them I needed to sign out on leave. By 5:54PM I had my copy of my leave papers and I was officially signed out. I am now on terminal leave…and I am now free! One of the best feelings I’ve had in quite a while. I am so happy to finally be away from all the BS…it’s such a relief.

I’ll make a couple more updates when some important events happen, but for now I’ll be back to being a normal civilian with an actual I.T. job where I’ll be doing actual I.T. work!!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 308 & 309

This weekend was all about spring cleaning. We still had boxes in our garage from the movers that had stuff in them. Saturday we cleaned out the garage, washed the cars and cleaned up the house. Of course when Sunday rolled around I found out I did too much once again. I woke up in quite a bit of pain. I always think I can do more than I really should. We spent the day at the in-laws just doing laundry and hanging out. It was a pretty laid back day to try and recover and feel better. I really hate that I am so limited in what I can physically do now. I have to remember that even though sometimes I may feel like I can do anything in my head, I am limited and will be paying for decisions that I make.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Last Day Wearing the Uniform (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 307

Put on the uniform for the last time is the flag I received as my parting gift

I woke up at 0700 and casually got ready, the same as yesterday…except as I put on my uniform I realized this would be the last time I would be doing so. It all seemed a little surreal. I headed to Ft. Lewis at 0800 and went straight to Waller Hall. I arrived at the transition center a little before 0900 when they opened up shop. I signed in and waited about 10 minutes before being seen. The same guy I spoke to yesterday was helping me. I had given him all my paperwork yesterday, so he had everything ready. I could tell today was going to be a better day than yesterday.

The guy had me look over my DD214 one last time to check the accuracy of it. Once I said it all looked good, he had me digitally sign it. He then printed out two copies for me. I also received a certificate of appreciation, a certificate of retirement, an American flag, and even a certificate of appreciation for my wife. An army wife does have to put up with a lot as well, so this is a nice (small) token of appreciation for her as well.

I took everything and drove to the WTB parking lot. Once there I headed to the SFAC and made copies of my DD214. The DD214 is a very important piece of paperwork. It’s the certificate of release or discharge and pretty much shows the entire army career compressed onto one sheet of paper. It’s used a lot after the military to prove your service and apply for things like veteran’s preference in job applications.

I then went to the barber and got my haircut…the no maintenance cut (a bald head…my usual). After that I had lunch, a slice of pizza in the hospital food court. Finally I headed to my VA exit interview, which turned out to be a group exit interview with about 7 of us. We went into a small conference room and the VA rep basically just answered everyone’s questions. We found out usually 90 days after our final day in the army (the last day of terminal leave) is when we should start receiving our pay from the VA. After the brief was over, everyone handed him a copy of their DD214s and then took off. I drove to my brother-in-law’s restaurant to do a little network consulting for him.

I then went home, met my wife and then went to my in-laws for dinner. After that we went home and I did schoolwork.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Final Out (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 306

I woke up at 0700 and casually got ready for the day, then headed to Ft. Lewis at 0800. I drove straight to Waller Hall and signed in at the finance station. I had to complete all others before coming to the finance station. I waited about 15 minutes to get called up. Once at the desk they looked over all my paperwork, then signed and stamped their portion. I also had to turn in a copy of my retirement paperwork with them as well. Once done at the finance station, I took my stack of paperwork to the In/Out Processing station to final out. I signed in and then took a seat.

After about waiting about a half hour, the guy at the desk says their copier is down. He then tells everyone who is waiting that the process will go much quicker if we can walk over to the library and make 2 copies of all our paperwork. I figure quicker is better, so I walk with a handful of other soldiers over to the library. When we get there we are told that the copier costs money to use. I’m not going to pay money to out-process, this is something the army is definitely going to pay for. I walked back, sat down and waited. After a half hour of waiting, I went up and checked the sign in list only to find that while I was gone trying to make copies they passed me because I was gone. This just keeps getting more stupid. I tell the guy at the desk and he takes all my paperwork and tells me to have a seat. They wait until they have about 4 or 5 people’s paperwork, then one of the guys takes the stack to another office and uses their copier to make the required copies.

When the guy finally gets back with all the copies I finally was called up once again. He keeps the originals and gives me the two copies…one for my S-1 and one for the transition office. It’s now been an hour and a half and I’m finally out-processed from the army. I went straight to the transition office, but because it’s a Thursday they have training and do not open until 1300…FML! I go to Subway and have lunch. I then head out to my car to hang out and listen to the radio for a while to pass the time. 

I went in a little before 1300 and went to the DEERs office first. I was told to get an official print out of my dependents to give to my VA rep at the mandatory exit interview. I made my way to the transition office about 10 minutes before they opened up and by this time there were already a bunch of people waiting around. They placed the sign in sheets out right at 1300 and I signed in and waited. Once I did get called, I find out that I have to come back tomorrow at 0900. I can’t receive my DD214 until the day before I go on terminal leave. At this point I’m pretty pissed off. I just spent hours here waiting around to be told to come back tomorrow. Typical army.

I drove home and worked on schoolwork. I’ll really be glad when I get done with both the army and school. I will really be happy to get back to a normal life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New ID Card (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 305

This morning I woke up in extreme pain and nauseous. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m guessing all the activities yesterday was a little too much. One of the games I was sitting in was a little jerky as I was flying around, but I didn’t think it was too much at the time. I just have to remember that I have to take it easy at all times. I have to dial my activities back a bit…forever now because of my injuries.

I dropped my son off at the ferry, then drove to Ft. Lewis. I out-processed from the ID center. I had to get a new ID card. At first I thought that was pretty stupid and redundant, I’ll be getting a retirement card soon enough. I guess it’s smart though to get a new active ID card with the new expiration date though. I then received a text from my platoon sergeant stating that I have a retirement briefing tomorrow. I told him I already attended one on the 27th of last month and if I have to go and sit through another 3.5 hour brief I’m going to be one very depressed individual!

I then went to my last PCM appointment. My doctor put in 90 day prescriptions for all my meds to hold me over until I start seeing the VA. She also gave me a hug and wished me well. I went from there straight to the pharmacy to pick up all the meds. I had quite the bag full leaving there! I took some because I was still feeling pretty bad all the way from this morning. On the drive home they started to finally kick in. When I got home I worked on schoolwork for a while.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

GameWorks (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 304

A photo of the naval shipyard while pulling into Bremerton on the ferry

I still had my son with me, so we took the ferry to Seattle and spent some quality time together. We met with a friend of mind and his son at GameWorks around 11:00 right after it opened. GameWorks is a large arcade with a large variety of everything from the latest video games all the way to classic video games along with a restaurant and bar. There is also competitive games that we could all play against each other like the basketball, 4-person air hockey and various racing games. Going during the weekday turned out to be a great idea. There weren’t a lot of people there and we could buy three hour passes and play as much as we wanted. We all had a blast…a great boys day out!

Afterwards we walked down to the original Starbucks store, had coffee, and hung out for a while before taking off. My son and I took the ferry back to Bremerton. Once home we ordered pizza for the family and had dinner. I spent some of the evening working on Schoolwork. I also received a text from my platoon sergeant saying that I had my last self assessment still to do. I haven’t checked my army email in a while…so it has been sitting in my inbox since last Thursday. I was able to log on from home with my CAC reader and complete the assessment. Done with those for good now!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Last Week Active (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 303

My son and I at the driving range today we both ended up hitting golf balls straight up, 
hitting the very loud metal roof! LOL

I had no plans or need to go to Ft. Lewis today. My wife headed off to work and I slept in. When I did wake up, I did my schoolwork. My girls ended up leaving, but my son is staying for a few more days since it’s spring break. We headed to a golf course that is located just a few minutes away from my house. My son has been wanting to go golfing for a while. I figured I’d see how far he’s come, so we each got a large bucket of balls and went to the driving range. I’ve never been good at golf, but it is fun to do…especially on a nice day. After our buckets ran dry we went to the putting green for a bit before leaving. I told my son that I’d taking him golfing for real at some point this season. He can’t be any worse than I am.

We then went and watched 300: Rise of an Empire. This sequel to the movie 300 was decent. It takes place a little before, during, and after the first movie…but tells the story of the naval battles that take place. We both enjoyed it and just hanging out with each other. We then went home and waited for my wife to get off work. Once she was home we all walked to her parents house. The walk is about a half hour. It was a nice day out and my wife and I wanted to get out and about. Walking is good for your health!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 301 & 302

Saturday I slept in, but it seems I always get up before my kids. I spent the morning doing my schoolwork. When everyone was up and ready to get started with the day, we all met with their cousins and my mom at a local 50’s style diner called the “Big Apple Diner”. Food was good and my wife and I even saw an old co-worker of ours back from our newspaper days. After lunch we went to the movies and watched “Non-Stop”. It’s pretty cool going to the movie theatre somewhat early and seeing a movie that has been out for a while…we had the entire room to ourselves to watch the movie! It was a pretty good action packed movie too! About an air marshal who has to try and find a killer on board the plane.

Sunday I slept in once again and then did schoolwork. A similar start to yesterday. We headed over to my sister’s house so the kids could play with their cousins. We also ended up going out to have an early dessert at Cold Stone, then for dinner we went to a Chinese buffet that everyone loves called “Kings Wok”. I’m stuffed! Back at home the kiddos decided they wanted to watch “Now You See Me”. A pretty good flick with some good twists about magicians who are constantly out-smarting the police. We had all seen it before except for my oldest daughter, but the movie is good enough to watch a few times for sure.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Schoolwork (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 300

Woke up at 0700 and got ready for the day, unfortunately I woke up in quite a bit of pain. At 0800 I called the school district IT director and let him know I selected another job. He was disappointed and I felt like crap for having to turn down his job offer after initially accepting it. I then sat down at my desk and did schoolwork for a while.

I then took a break and watched “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden”. 

Yeah…this documentary may be a little out-dated, but it was still pretty good. Created by Morgan Spurlock, the guy who brought us “Super Size Me”. The documentary is more about how America is viewed from the outside, especially Muslim countries. I’ve been out and about around the world and I’ve already been exposed to how even other western countries view America. It was a pretty interesting documentary, and Morgan Spurlock always brings a little humor to the situation…so far I’ve enjoyed all the documentaries this guy has made.

I then drove to a local competitor casino to my wife’s casino and met her there. She is doing a little spy work, checking out the competition. Since this was my first time there and I joined their players club, I was given 2 $5 coupons to use in their slots. I played the slot machines for a while, then a little bit of blackjack. We didn’t stay too long because my kids called and said they just arrived at the house. After all was said and done I left with about $35…not too bad for not even spending a dime of my own money!

We drove home and hung out with the kiddos. They are now on spring break. We decided to watch a little survivor marathon, before turning in for the night.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Another Job Offer! (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 299

I woke up at 0700 like yesterday and got ready for the day. At 0800 I headed to Ft. Lewis, I had no desire to go in for formation. There was a town hall today and I don’t have time for that. At around 0900 I headed to the security office to out-process…again. Yup I already cleared from security once…another case of army efficiency. Luckily the process was pretty quick since I’ve already been there.

At 1000 I went to the SFAC and checked my army email. I then drove to the PX to check on something for my mom, but they did not have it in stock. I then received a call from the second place I interviewed at recently and was offered a job. Even though I really wanted to work for a school district, this place is non-profit, does some real good for the community, and they really pursued me. I have a really good feeling about this place, so I accepted the job offer from them. Now I have to call the school district back and tell them I have to turn them down. I’m not looking forward to that.

I met up with my friend for lunch. It was great to see him again, we hung out quite a while after lunch and just chatted the entire time. After lunch I drove to the naval submarine base outside of Silverdale and checked out their PX for my mom. I was able to get her item for her there. I drove over to her and dropped it off, visited for a while, then drove home where I worked on my schoolwork.

When my wife got home we made a Costco run, then came home and watched a Netflix DVD called “88 Minutes”. The movie was decent. I’m sure I added it because the entire movie is set in Seattle. It’s about a university instructor who is told he only has 88 minutes to live…kind of an action/thriller.

Later on in the night I received an email from my Finance instructor. This guy is really pissing me off. I received a zero on my last paper I turned in because he said I was out of compliance with the University’s academic integrity policy. I was thinking to myself WTF? He had attached a PDF of my paper and I’m guessing ran a program to see what matched exactly from the sources I gave him. Of course I quoted and gave my sources, but I also paraphrased a little earlier in the paper. I have written all my papers pretty much the same way for every college paper. I read something, I ingest it, then I regurgitate it out in my own words along with my perspective and such…pretty much the same as every other student. I looked at the PDF I was sent and see that the highlighted areas that are representing exact matches to my references include items such as “There are” and “variables that” and “of the”. This instructor is freakin’ retarded! There were a couple other lines that had some items that were about 80% word for word from my source, but there really was no other way to state it and get my point across. I’m so pissed and so frustrated with this class and this instructor. I really can’t wait until it’s over. At least the instructor said I could re-submit this paper and get credit for it once I clean it up.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Job Shadow (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 299

I woke up at 0700 and got ready for the day. I made my way to pick up the required paperwork from the HR department at the school district. I have to schedule a physical, it’s required before working for the school district which I thought was a little odd. No worries though, I called the place and scheduled an appointment for this Friday. I should be able to get everything done before I go on terminal leave. This will allow me to start right when I get out of the army. Even though I had just accepted a job at the school district, I had already been invited to come in for a second interview and job shadow at another organization…so I made my way there.

After I arrived, I hung out briefly with the CIO, then he handed me off to the help desk manager. I was shown their ticketing system and everything that he deals with on a daily basis. I then sat with the network administrator, who showed me the ins and outs of the network and each of their nationwide locations. We all went and had some Mexican food for lunch at a local hole in the wall location. I had never even noticed this place before…and it was pretty good! After lunch I hung out with the systems administrator for a bit and checked out the server room and everything that he’s been working on. After that the CIO took me around and had me meet some various employees and then the CEO of the organization. After that I took off.

I’m really struggling now what decision to make. This organization is pretty awesome! They have a lot of great people working for them and they do a lot of good for the community. I know they are going to make a job offer to me, and I really don’t know what to do. I’ve wanted to work for a school district for a long time, because I thought it would be a great place to be a part of something bigger than just me…bigger than just making profit…a place that makes a difference. A school district is just that, but after today…so is this other organization.

I drove to my grandma’s house and visited with her for a while. I haven’t seen her for a bit and I didn’t have anything else planned for the day. After visiting with her and my aunt who happened to stop by, I drove back home and did schoolwork. When my wife came home, we decided not to work out at the YMCA, but walk around the neighborhood instead. It’s another nice day, and sometimes it’s just nice to be outside. We ended up going a bit over 2 miles when it was all said and done.

We spent the evening at my sister’s house for our Wednesday night dinner with my sister’s family and my mom as well.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Job Offer! (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 298

I slept in today, had no desire to get up. Since it’s the beginning of the month I did my usual and paid our monthly bills. I do this on the 1st and the 15th of each month…and do it all electronically. I also did the monthly maintenance on my own personal computers…one Mac Pro and two MacBook Pros. I like to do this first thing each month to make sure everything is running as well as possible at home.

I got a call from the school district where I interviewed and received a job offer. I’m really stoked about this, I was a little worried that the interview didn’t even go that well! After I accepted, I was told I’d need to call the HR department and get some paperwork started. I then settled down and did some schoolwork of my own. Once finished with the schoolwork for the day, I went outside and did some yard work. It was a nice day out and I wasn’t in too much pain. It had been pretty windy recently, which had left a lot of branches around. I also used the blower and cleaned off all the pine needles from our driveway. I have to take advantage of the times when both the weather is good and I’m not in a lot of pain. When my head is killing me, I have no desire to do much of anything.

I spent the afternoon watching another Netflix DVD “The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior”. I think a while back, I was watching the MMA news show “Inside MMA” and they had Randy Couture on promoting his latest acting gig. I have to say, the movie was not that great and Randy was a much better UFC fighter than an actor.

Monday, March 31, 2014

RSO and Some Redundant Clearing (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 297

I headed to morning formation in ACUs because I’m out-processing of course. Even though it’s spring, it’s still freakin’ cold outside. In fact after formation when I headed back to my car the thermostat stated it was 32 degrees out…officially freezing! I hung out in my car for a bit with the blanket on me listening to the radio and eating my breakfast. I headed to the SFAC at 0730 when it opened up. I checked my email and printed out the mandatory education ETS briefing certificate I sent to myself yesterday.

I drove to Waller Hall and visited the RSO (Retirement Services Office). I tell you they really have a racket going on with the SBP (Survivor’s Benefit Program). Not that it’s a bad program, it’s not. It will allow your spouse to receive a portion of your retirement paycheck after your death. The problem I have with it is that if you want to do anything other than 100% they make you jump through a lot of hoops to get it done. If you don’t get everything done in time, the 100% kicks in automatically and it can’t be changed for 2 years. I decided I wanted a different amount, I wanted what’s called the “Threshold Amount”, which my wife and I thought was a good compromise between monthly premiums and the monthly annuities (payouts). From the paperwork and what I understand, the premiums are $19.18 a month and the payout would be $422 a month. It’s not a lot, but it is something. The monthly premiums seem to really increase quite quickly the higher you go. Because I was choosing an option other than 100%, my wife had to come in and sign paperwork as well. Luckily she is only working a half day today, so I called her and asked if she wanted to come in and hang with me for a bit.

While she was on her way, I headed to the education center to out-process. I was a little worried because I’m actually still using tuition assistance and I haven’t finished my last two classes yet. It states on the clearing paperwork that any outstanding tuition assistance debts must be resolved. I was hoping that I would not have to wait until May 6th when my classes are officially over. That would really put a damper in my future plans. As luck would have it, they were more interested in the mandatory education ETS briefing certificate, which I quickly provided them. They signed and stamped my clearing paperwork…Woohoo!!

I drove to the SFAC and had to clear ACAP…again. It’s on both the battalion clearing paperwork and the installation clearing paperwork. It’s like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing! Why am I clearing from the same place twice? I made my way up to the company headquarters and met up with my squad leader to sign more paperwork. He also went over my clearing paperwork and let me know where everything is located. I head over to Madigan hospital and clear medical records…again. I then went to the medical clinic, then the dental clinic and cleared both of those locations.

I drove back to Waller Hall and met up with my wife now that she arrived. We hang out for a bit and had a coffee at the Starbucks located inside Waller Hall. We then went to the RSO where my wife had to sign the form and get it notarized. We must have been in there for a half hour just to sign a stupid form. At least it’s done now, one more thing I don’t have to worry about. My wife left and I went to the ACS office in Waller Hall and had them sign and stamp my clearing paperwork. The last place left that I could do today in Waller Hall was the vehicle licensing. I went there, took a number, waited, then finally took my clearing papers up where they were signed and stamped. Now I’m done with almost everything.

I drove home and ate lunch. I then did schoolwork for a while, then took some time to continue the job search. Even though I have an offer, I’m still going to keep my eyes open just in case.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 295 & 296

It’s NCAA March Madness time! I’m a huge college basketball fan, but have been unable to watch a lot of the games, partly because I can’t really disappear for long periods of time. I also have other things like school that take up my extra time. I planned ahead for this Saturday and designated it NCAA basketball day…and my wife was down with it. So I took my wife to her parents, where we ate lunch. I left her there with several loads of laundry to do. I then went to my sister’s house where I was able to watch the two scheduled games today with my brother-in-law and his 70” screen. I brought over some scotch for us to sip and had a pretty fun time! After the games, I picked up my wife and the clean laundry and we drove home…I’d call that a pretty good day!

Sunday was spent sleeping in, then doing schoolwork once I was up and moving…of course that’s after a cup or two of coffee. My wife had to work for a special promotion today, so she left early. She has pretty normal hours, but special promotions sometimes require special hours for the folks in the marketing department. Once I finished my schoolwork, I headed to my wife’s casino to visit with her during the promotion. I spent a lot of time in their lounge and watched more NCAA basketball on their big screen. It works out perfect because during the day, the lounge is pretty empty…which means no smoke and I can hear the game.

After the game I played a little craps, but not for long because the dice were ice cold. I left a couple hours before my wife’s shift ended. Once home I watched a pretty bad movie called “Redbelt”. It had Tim Allen along with a few folks form the UFC in it…but not much could help this film. It deals with an MMA instructor who doesn’t involve himself with the competitive sport circuit, but after a series of unfortunate events he finds himself in a competitive event and his honor is tested. I knew my wife didn’t want to see it…and probably for good reason. I’ll be sending that back to Netflix ASAP. While the movie was going I started a mandatory brief from the education center on Ft. Lewis and let it play unattended. This brief was a good 15-20 minutes or so. Once it finished I was able to save a PDF of the completion certificate and emailed it to my army email address to print off tomorrow. This certificate is required to clear the education center.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Another Interview (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 294

Received a text from my squad leader last night stating “0745 ACUs tomorrow”, I’m going to assume he doesn’t mean me once again. Now that I’m in the out-processing phase, I couldn't really give a crap about everything. I already checked out mentally quite a while ago, and as each day passes, the short timer’s syndrome gets worse. I got up around 0730 and got ready for the day. After breakfast I sat down at my desk and proceeded to do schoolwork. I’m still chugging away at these last two classes. I’m going to be so glad once I finally complete them and get my degree. I can finally take a little time off and relax a bit.

I received a text from my squad leader later on stating that he needs 100% accountability today and asked where I am. I let him know I’m doing my MOU this morning (schoolwork) and I plan on heading into Ft. Lewis this afternoon to pickup my installation clearing paperwork and stop by the RSO (Retirement Services Office). I then changed into my interview suit and headed off for another interview. The interview was for a random I.T. job at a local company that I actually didn’t know too much about. I knew they did some contracts with the government, but that’s about it. I wasn’t nervous at all when I went in, I think in the back of my mind I wasn’t giving much consideration to this job. My mind was changed though after the interview. I sat down at a table in a conference room with 3 other guys in their I.T. similar to my last interview at the school district. I could tell right away this was a much more laid back group. The interview went really well and I was really impressed with the company and pretty much everything.

When I left the interview, I headed home and quickly changed into my army uniform. I made a quick lunch to go and then headed off in my car to Ft. Lewis. I ate my lunch on the way there and drove straight to Waller Hall. At the out-processing station I asked to pick up my installation clearing paperwork. The specialist at the counter said on Fridays they only do final out processing and I’d have to come back on Monday. This pissed me off. I told the specialist that I was told yesterday to pick them up today. The specialist asked me who told me that, and I pointed to another specialist who was eating his lunch at his desk. He went back and conferred, then came back and told me to go around the counter and have a seat at his desk. A few minutes later he came back with my clearing paperwork and gave me the quick 5 second instructions. Why does everything have to be difficult? I am happy that I received the clearing paperwork, but was still a little pissed off that I almost had to wait until next week.

When I left the out-processing station and headed to the RSO I could see the waiting room was full, so I just kept on walking. I headed straight to my car and drove home. That’s enough of the army today. On the way home I received a call back from from the organization I interviewed at earlier today. They want me to come back this Wednesday for a second interview. That’s good news, but I’ll keep applying for new jobs until I am actually offered a job just to have all my bases covered.

On most of my drives of any distance I have mentioned before that I listen to a lot of podcasts. The podcast I was listening to on the ride home had a local guy come in and play a couple of acoustic songs. I’d never heard of the guy “Ayron Jones” or his band “Ayron Jones and the Way”, but I was hooked after hearing his songs on the podcast. One look at him and you’d think he is an R&B artist, but surprisingly he’s a mix of blues, rock, and that Seattle sound all in one. You can hear the passion just ooze out in all of their songs. Local Seattle rapper Sir-Mix-a-Lot saw them live in Seattle and quickly decided he wanted to produce their album. I ended up purchasing their new album “Dream” once I got home.

Later on I worked on my schoolwork once again for a while. It’s Friday night and my wife and I were deciding whether to go out for dinner and a movie, or just kick back and stay home…we decided on the latter. My wife made a quick dinner and then we had ourselves a little marathon of “The Following” with Kevin Bacon. It’s a great show, but now we’re all caught up and have to wait a week for the next episode :(

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Retirement Brief (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 293

I received a text from my squad leader last night “0815 first formation in ACUs, mandatory training at 0900”. I’m going to assume he doesn’t mean me…lol. I got up about 0830, ate breakfast and started my day. I worked on my schoolwork for a while. At around 1100 I took off for Ft. Lewis. I headed straight to Waller Hall and into the out-processing station to ask about getting my clearing papers. I am supposed to pick them up at 1300 or 1400 today, but I have a retirement brief from 1300 to 1630. The guy said I could just come back tomorrow and pick them up. No problem.

I hung out for a while in Waller Hall just passing time playing around on my iPhone. I headed into the retirement brief at 1300. The room was full of soldiers that have either been in the army for 20+ years, or like me, are getting medically retired. This brief was filled with a lot of information. The biggest focus was on Tri-care and the Survivor’s Benefit Program, which is kind of like a sort of life insurance. The retiree pays a percentage each month and if the retiree dies, the survivor receives a percentage of the monthly income for the rest of their life.

The retirement brief ended a little early at 1600. I got out and went home, then finished up my schoolwork for the day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Interview (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 292

Woke up about 0900, ate breakfast and started my day. I started doing my schoolwork. Every day consists of me in various stages of pain ranging from a nagging annoyance to full on “can’t do anything” types of pain. Today it was a little worse than usual, which hinders my ability to concentrate and do schoolwork…among other things. I took some of my pain meds and continued on with my day. I ate a snack for lunch, then put on my new suit. I’ve been applying for pretty much any I.T. jobs that are available in the area. Today I have an interview with a local school district to work in their I.T. department. I arrived early and then waited to get called in for the interview. I don’t know why, but I was as nervous as hell for this. An interview is basically a sales job and you’re selling yourself to the company. I’m a horrible sales person. I’ve often joked that if I had to take a job as a sales person, my family would starve.

I arrived at the school district administration building and waited outside the HR office until called back to a conference room. The interview seemed to go fine. I sat down at a table with four different people who currently work in the I.T. department and they proceeded to ask me some set questions. As I sat there I could feel the pain meds really taking affect. So here I am in a group interview and basically high on pain meds…and I have to answer their questions. As I did answer each question, all of them took notes on my answers. When it was all over I shook everyone’s hands and headed home. When I got home of course I thought of a hundred things I could have added to my answers or just added in general, but I imagine it’s always going to be like that.

Once home and settled, I went back to working on my schoolwork. Once I finished I just laid down on the couch and relaxed for a while with a heating pad on my upper back and neck. Once my wife came home we headed over to have dinner with my sister and her family.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Battalion is Cleared! (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 291

This morning’s formation was at the gym as usual because it’s Tuesday. I came in ACUs because I’m out-processing. Once accountability was over, I headed to my car and drove to the WTB parking lot. I then listened to the radio, slept, and then ate breakfast. At 0800 I had an NCM appointment…nothing new and no refills needed. I then went to the SFAC to check my army email and print off some application paperwork that I need for a job I’m applying for out in the real world.

I went to S-3 to out-process and the guy is there! I’m always pleasantly surprised when something actually works out in the army. After he signed my clearing paperwork and took down some information, I headed to my last stop at S-1. I signed in on the sheet and waited in the lobby. After about 10 minutes or so they brought me back and had me first see the meal card guy. I have never had a meal card, so he signed my paperwork and took me to another lady in the office. This lady signed a few things, then told me to go back outside and sign in on the finance sheet. I did so, and waited for another 10 minutes or so. The finance lady came out and took me back to her office. She signed off on my clearing paperwork and then I went back to the office lady I saw previously. She signed another portion and then took me to the battalion commander. He signed my clearing paperwork and then the office lady made a copy for her records. I have to come back and bring a copy of my installation clearing paperwork as well as a copy of my DD-214. She then turned me loose…I’m now officially out-processed from battalion! This is a great feeling…I’m one step closer to actually getting out of here!

I then drove home and did schoolwork. I had lunch and then chatted with SPC Mac for a while. He just received his leave form and battalion out-processing paperwork…and he’s excited as well.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Out-Processing Station (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 290

I headed to formation in ACUs again this morning. I may have mentioned this earlier, but since I’m out-processing I will not be coming to formation in PTs again. After accountability I headed back to my car, listened to the radio and ate my breakfast. At 0730 I went inside the SFAC and checked my army email. I then used their copier to make copies of my leave form and several copies of my orders. I know I’ll need these as I out-process.

At 0800 I went to Waller Hall and visited the Out-Processing station. I signed in, then gave them a copy of my leave form and a copy of my orders. They gave me a date of this Thursday to come back and pick up my installation clearing papers. I was hoping I would get them right away and get started, but I guess they need a few days to get everything ready. I went back to the WTB and checked in with our company VA rep to give her my leave date and my final out date. She will in turn forward this info to the VA and get my first medical appointment scheduled.

I then checked the company supply room and guess what…nobody was there yet again. I asked my squad leader when this guy is ever in. He said the guy should be here today at some point. He took my battalion clearing paperwork and a copy of my CIF printout they gave me and said he would make sure it gets signed by the supply room guy and get me my paperwork back tomorrow morning at formation. That was fine with me. I left. As I left the company and stepped into the elevator, my phone rang. It was my squad leader saying that the supply guy was there, just not in his office. I came back and was finally able to get my battalion clearing papers signed by him.

I then went to S-1 and waited for about 45 minutes to be seen. A guy in S-1 signed a couple blocks, but the people that needed to sign other blocks were not in…of course. I then went to S-4 and had them sign my clearing papers. He then showed me where S-3 was…down the hall. The door was open, the lights were on, but there was nobody to be found. It looked like someone had just left, so I waited…and waited, but after a half hour I said screw it, and just left. I’ll check back tomorrow.

I drove home and on the way I got a call from the VA. They are going to schedule my first appointment in Bremerton. This is good, because they weren’t sure if the Bremerton clinic was taking any new patients. I thought I may have to drive to Tacoma. Today I’m actually done with schoolwork for the week, so I just kicked back and relaxed. I did a little job searching and then worked on this blog for a bit.

My wife is still sick, so no YMCA tonight. We just took it easy and watched our latest Netflix movie “Dallas Buyers Club”. To be honest, neither of us knew much about the movie at all except that it was nominated for some Oscars. It stars Mathew McConaughey, and it’s really amazing how he transformed his body for the role. He plays a guy who has AIDS when it first started breaking out in America. There was a lot unknown about the disease and most people thought it was only a gay person’s disease. Matthew McConaughey plays a homophobic character and we see his transformation as he at first tries to help himself live and later on helps the entire AIDS community including many gays. It’s a pretty powerful film and interesting as well. Very much worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 288 & 289

This weekend was a little messed up. We originally had planed to see an old friend who was visiting from out of state, but because my wife is sick we had to cancel. Because of our plans, the kiddos came over much later than usual and we didn’t have any big plans. My wife still feeling sick didn’t feel like doing much. We hung out Saturday night and had a Walking Dead marathon to get us all caught up with the series.

Sunday my wife had to work because of a special promotion, so she left early still not feeling 100%. I hung out with the kiddos until they left and then headed to the casino where my wife works. I went into their lounge and watched NCAA basketball on their big screen, which was awesome.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March Madness (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 287

This morning there was a chili cook-off at the WTB and formation was at 0815 in civilian clothes. I don’t need any chili and I doubted many people would be available for me to work on out-processing, so I just stayed home and made this a 3-day weekend for myself.

I slept in until 0900. My wife is still sick, so she stayed home as well. I made us both strawberry banana smoothies for breakfast. Now that’s some good stuff! I then let my wife rest and worked on my schoolwork until lunchtime. I made us both a quick and easy lunch, then watched some of the NCAA March Madness basketball. I love college basketball, so I’m in heaven right now. The NCAA March Madness App works great, but they disabled airplay, which would allow me to stream it from my iPhone to my AppleTV. We have a program called Air Parrot which can mirror our laptop to the AppleTV. It’s a good program to use on older laptops that can’t support airplay. Unfortunately the video was a bit choppy. This is the one drawback of not having any cable TV. I think I might have to go to my sister’s house next weekend to watch.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Financial Brief - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 286

Formation this morning was at 0815 in ACUs, now this is one that I can make! There was a lot of talk about some training today because…you know….it’s Thursday and that means sergeant’s time training. I didn’t pay too much attention, I am out-processing and will not be attending anything unless it helps me get out of here.

After accountability I went back to my car, listened to the radio and relaxed for a while. About 0900 I went to the company offices and checked the supply room, but as usual there was nobody there. I guess I’ll try again later…I’m starting to wonder if I’m ever going to finish clearing from battalion. I drove to Waller Hall for a finance brief that I have to attend. The brief was actually very brief. Everyone was given two packets and the briefer went through each of them explaining to everyone what and how to fill them all out.

I filled mine out, but had to wait about an hour and a half while they called individuals back to go over their packets one by one. It took so long because they were calling people back by rank. As a specialist, I’m the lowest ranking soldier in the room that is retiring. I had planned on going to the out-processing station in Waller Hall afterwards, but at this point I was a little pissed off from all the waiting. I ended up just going home and having lunch with my wife, who had stayed home sick from work.

I then did my schoolwork and tried my best to comfort my wife and not get sick in the process.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Side Job - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 285

Early this morning I received a text from my squad leader stating that morning formation this morning is at an alternative gym. I texted him back “MOU Today”, then went back to sleep. I got up around 0900 and did schoolwork. I headed to my wife’s work around noon and had lunch with her. I then did a little side job while I was there. My wife was sick, so she went home. I’ve done side work in the past for the marketing department at the casino she works at. They have a couple Mac Pros, but their I.T. department won’t touch them. I had her order RAM earlier and it had arrived. I was able to max out her RAM at a whopping 32 GB! I also did some maintenance, uninstalled some old software, and finally installed some new software. I ended up being there about 2.5 hours, so I’ll make a nice chunk of change for my troubles.

On the way home I stopped by the sub base outside of Silverdale and picked up some OJ, NyQuil, and chicken noodle soup from the commissary. Hopefully this will help out my wife a bit. I’m going to start taking some extra vitamin C to try and keep me from getting sick as well. I don’t want to be trying to out-process while feeling like crap. When I got home I made the soup for dinner and just tried to take care of my wife. We took it easy and watched a Netflix movie…”Cleaner”. It stars Samuel L. Jackson who is a cleaner of crime scenes once they’ve been processed by the police. He finds out after cleaning up one crime scene that someone may have set him up. Not a great movie, but definitely a good one for Netflix.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NCM & PCM - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 284

I got up around 0900…didn’t text my squad leader and basically just don’t give a crap anymore. I think I have a severe case of short timer's syndrome. I’m lucky I can get away with this. My squad leader is very laid back and I think he just assumes I’m working with the navy when he doesn’t see me. He knows I’m an older guy and I take care of anything that needs to be done, so he doesn’t have to worry or babysit me.

I did schoolwork and then left for Ft. Lewis around noon. I headed straight to Waller Hall and picked up my orders. I had to look over my DD214 first to make sure all the information is correct. I then received my orders and a copy of my leave form. I had to head straight to the finance window at Waller Hall where they scheduled me an appointment for their finance brief this Thursday.

After Finance I drove to WTB and checked the mailroom to try and clear, but like the many times I’ve checked previously, there was nobody there. I went to the supply room at our company and again…nobody there. I checked with the VA Rep in our company, I’m supposed to give her my dates I was given for terminal leave and final out…but like everyone else, there was nobody there.

I had my NCM appointment, which went like all the others before…except this time I was able to have her sign my clearing paperwork. I knew I would at least get her signature today. After our appointment, I headed back to the SFAC to use their copier. I had to make 7 copies of my orders & 2 copies of my leave form. These are needed for the finance brief I was signed up for this Thursday. While I was there, I checked my army email.

I then had my PCM appointment. I had my PCM put in a request for my pain medication refills. We also scheduled one last appointment before I am out. I then made my way to the pharmacy and picked up the medication. On my way to my car I decided to stop by the WTB mailroom one more time just in case. To my surprise the guy is actually there! I had him sign my clearing paperwork and I filled out a change of address form for him to file. Kind of strange that I had to fill out the change of address, since I never had one here in the first place…but who cares? At least I got one more item marked off my list.

I headed home for the day and did schoolwork.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Little Clearing - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 283

On the way out of Waller Hall...not sure what's going on with that hair!

I headed to morning formation in my ACUs because I’m officially out-processing now. It’s so nice not even paying attention to whatever the first sergeant is saying. I just wait until after accountability and leave. I went back to my car and slept until about 0800. I ate breakfast in my car, then went into the SFAC and checked my army email. I went to the mailroom to try and clear, but there is nobody there…yet again. Clearing would be easy if everyone was where they are supposed to be.

I went to Madigan and cleared from out-patient records. I had to fill out some paperwork and they will mail me my records. I then went to WTB and cleared from the VA rep. I checked the supply room, but nobody was there…again. I then drove to Waller Hall and cleared from EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program). It just seems to me that with today’s technology, they should be able to query a database and only list places we actually need to clear from. It would see that I don’t have anyone in the EFMP program and then not even list it as a place I need to go. There are a number of steps that would be taken out of this stupid process.

I then drove home and did schoolwork. I received a text stating that my orders are ready for pickup at Waller Hall. Unfortunately it’s about 2 hours late, or else I would have picked them up today. I’ll be sure to get them tomorrow. I spent the rest of the evening watching college basketball on WatchESPN…that is until my wife came home and we went to the YMCA to get a little cardio in.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 281 & 282

Saw this guy outside of Starbucks..."I need money for weed and beer" least the guy is honest!

This weekend started off with getting my wife’s hair cut. Normally this isn’t a big deal, not even big enough to mention on a blog. This haircut is a little different though, her hairdresser moved and started working in Seattle. My wife is a little picky and after one attempt with another local hairdresser, she decided she needed to head into Seattle. Living in Bremerton has a great advantage when it comes to visiting Seattle, we can just hop on a ferry which will drop us off right in the middle of downtown Seattle. When we arrived at the ferry there was an unusually large amount of people waiting for it. A quick look around the crowd and I realized that there must be a Seattle Sounders game today. There were a ton of people in their Sounders gear. I like how the color scheme of the Sounders is similar to that of the Seahawks. I’m not a huge soccer fan, in fact I would change the channel if it was on TV. To me it’s kind of like baseball, I would not watch it on TV and I do not keep up on the standings…but I do enjoy the occasional game in person. I haven’t seen a Sounders game yet, but I do think it would be fun to go see.

When we arrived in Seattle after the hour long ferry ride, my wife and I walked to her hairdresser’s salon. I said goodbye and then made my way a Starbucks located near Pike Place Market in Seattle. I only purchased a bottle of water, just to justify my use of one of their lounge chairs. I got comfortable and started spending some quality time with my iPad. Between the use of my iPad and just people watching in downtown Seattle, time passed by pretty quickly.

Once my wife was finished we met up and decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle. Neither of us had ever tried it out yet and we were both starving. Dinner was great! After that we left, boarded the ferry and headed back to Bremerton.

Sunday was very laid back. It consisted of sleeping in, doing schoolwork, watching some basketball and finally visiting the in-laws for dinner and laundry. We still don’t have our own washer and dryer. Until I get out of the army and get a real job, we don’t want to add any additional debt to our budget.

Friday, March 14, 2014

DONSA - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 280

Today is a training holiday, well that’s what we called them in Germany. Here they are called “DONSA” which is an acronym for Day Off No Scheduled Activities. Basically just a free day off for no reason. Today was pretty much the same as yesterday, I worked on schoolwork. I then took a lunch break, then worked on schoolwork some more. I didn’t do any job searching because the schoolwork kept me pretty busy. I’m glad I’ll be done after these two classes, but taking two classes simultaneously is keeping me pretty busy and pretty stressed. The stress in turn is what I believe is causing me quite a bit of pain. This whole week has been a pretty painful one. Yes I do have pain medication, but it takes a while to kick in and the more I use it consecutively, the more it seems I have to take. It works really well when I use it 2 or 3 times a week, but when it’s a daily occurrence the return on investment diminishes.

We visited my in-laws in the evening. It’s always a nice visit when we head up there. I’m still soaking up all the quality time we now have with both sides of the family. It was rough for me being stationed overseas for so long. It made me realize what’s important in life and I make sure to focus on the important things on a daily basis now.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Stay at Home Day - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 279

Today I decided just to stay home, it’s Thursday and I just didn’t want to deal with any sergeant’s time training. Most places I need to out-process would be in training anyway, so I doubt I’d get much done. I also decided I didn’t want to waste my time going into the navy today either. As I get closer to my final out date, I need to focus more on my post-army future. I slept in until 0900 and then got up and started my day.

I started off with my job search. I have a number of websites that I go through and see the latest jobs available in my area. They range from actual job search engines to specific companies that I would like to work for. After the job search, I started in on my schoolwork. At lunch time I decided to work on my mom’s laptop. I had picked it up last night and brought it home to do some maintenance on. She said it’s been running a bit slow lately.

After lunch and maintenance I continued on my job searching and then a little more schoolwork to finish off my day. Not too exciting, but I did get a lot done!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Clearing Battalion - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 278

On the drive home...the view of the Tacoma Narrows bridges

This morning I went to formation in ACUs because I’m finally clearing. Right after formation my squad had to follow our squad leader to his office. He had quarterly counseling statements for everyone to sign…one of those “check the box” and get it done moments. After that I went back to my car and tried to sleep, but it is just too darn cold outside to get comfortable. I just laid there listening to the radio…slowly freezing. Around 0900 I had breakfast in my car and then decided to start clearing (out-processing) from battalion. The clearing process involves taking my clearing paperwork (in this case just one piece of paper) and having each required place sign off on it and stamp it if they happen to have a stamp.

I decided to start at Madigan hospital. I was able to clear from VA Benefits, Occupational Therapy, and the Provost Marshal. Why some of these are on here I don’t know, most of the time the person behind the desk just takes the paper and signs it, then hands it back without even bothering to even look at my name.

I then drove to the security office. They have specific times available for out-processing and I wanted to make sure to get them out of the way. Once I finished with them, I drove to CIF and signed in at their customer service desk. About a half hour later, I was finally called up. They signed my paperwork and also gave me another piece of stamped paperwork that my company supply office will need to see.

At this point it was lunch time, so I drove off post and had lunch with a friend of mine at Taco Bell. After lunch I drove to the WTB and was able to clear from the following: Social Worker (via the on-call social worker), Billeting, Company training room, Company training records, Transition coordinator, SFAC, and ACAP. I tried to clear from the Mailroom, Veterans Corp, and Supply…but after multiple attempts nobody was there. So I decided to call it a day at 1400 and headed home. I’ll try and get the rest on Monday. Everyone will be training tomorrow because it’s Thursday, and Friday is a training holiday.

When I got home I did schoolwork as usual. I’m looking forward to finishing up class and finally getting my degree. When my wife came home we went to the YMCA and worked out. Finally we headed over to my sister’s house and had our usual Wednesday night family dinner.