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.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TransProc Brief - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 277

Waller Hall...where all the transition processing of thousands of soldiers is done

This morning I headed to formation as usual. I sat in the WTB parking lot until about 15 minutes before formation and then slowly made my way to our formation. When I arrived there was nobody there. At first I was a little pissed off because I didn’t receive any notification of a formation time or location change. I then realized it’s Tuesday…and formations on Tuesdays are at the gym. I guess that kind of shows you that my mind is kind of out of it.

It’s too late to make it to formation at the gym, so I just head back to my car, pull up my blanket and try and sleep. Unfortunately it’s way too cold to get any sleep. Even with my blanket it seemed the freezing cold outside just slowly creeps in my car and right through the blanket. I listened to the radio for a bit and ate my breakfast. I headed into the SFAC at around 0800 and checked my email. I then headed to Waller Hall and hung out in the lobby for a while, at least it’s warmer in there.

I have a 1000 transition brief, so I started wandering around trying to figure out where exactly the brief was. Waller Hall is the location everyone does their in-processing and out-processing. It’s fairly large and even has a Starbucks and a Subway located inside. I started looking around and didn’t see anything that said transition or transition brief. I finally went to the out-processing station and asked them if they knew where the transition brief is. They had no idea what I was talking about, in fact they really didn’t even want to talk to me unless I had my orders and my leave form. I gave my PEBLO a call to see if she could steer my in the right direction, but I only got her voice mail. By this point I was getting pretty frustrated. It wasn’t until I made my way to another portion of Waller Hall that I found what I was looking for. I came up to a desk that had a sign in sheet for medical retirees. I found out once I signed in, that the transition brief (or TransProc brief as I heard others call it) was not until 1100. It was about 0945 and I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I just took a seat in the waiting area. I don’t really mind that it’s an hour later than I was told, I’m just glad I finally found out where I needed to go.

A half hour before the brief everyone had to sign in on the TransProc brief form. Once signed in, we headed into the conference room. I took a seat up in the front because I didn’t have my glasses on and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything important. Right before we started the brief, the instructor passed out a packet of papers to each of us. This individualized packet included our ERB, a checklist, a leave form, and some other miscellaneous items. The brief was very informative. The briefer went over each of the forms that we had and had us look for any errors. One of the forms had our final out date, which is 90 days out from when each of us was placed on TransProc. The checklist went over each item that we needed to obtain and bring back in order to get our orders to final out. In total the meeting lasted about an hour and a half.

I ate my lunch in my car as I drove back to the WTB. Once there I went into the SFAC and used their computers to print out some of that required documentation needed in order to get my orders to final out. Going down the checklist I needed the following:

DD Form 2648 - ACAP Checklist signed and stamped by ACAP office and signed by me. I was able to get this form from ACAP earlier once I found out I was on TransProc. I took it to get signed by the commander as soon as I got it, so this form is ready to go.

DD Form 2958 - ACP form that is signed and stamped by the ACAP office and signed by me. I was able to get this form as well earlier when I saw ACAP after getting on TransProc.

DD Form 93 - Record of Emergency Data. I was able to print this off from my records on AKO.

SGLV - Service Members Group Life Insurance. I was able to print this off from my records on AKO.

Military Transcript - I was able to print this off from my records on AKO.

By this time lunch break was over, so I gathered up all my paperwork and headed to my S1 office. My squad leader had told me earlier who to see at S1 once I was finished with the TransProc brief. He also said to see him after I see S1. The S1 office had just come back from their lunch break and I was able to be seen right away. In fact the lady I wanted to see was actually expecting me. I was a little surprised by this, because nothing seems to work smoothly in the army. I thought I was going to have to explain what I was doing there, but instead the S1 lady took care of everything. She had a packet with my name on it and added all my paperwork to it. She was surprised I had everything ready for her.

We then looked at my end date, which was June 3rd. She said we should move it to May 27th because this will allow me to actually get on the June retirement list, otherwise I wouldn’t be added until July. We then looked at my leave that I had accumulated. I had already printed off my LES statement while in the SFAC, which shows my leave balance. I am at 37.5 at the end of February. The S1 lady went over accumulation that I would get until I am out…which is 2.5 days per month. This will add almost 7.5 days to my leave remaining. I will also get another 10 days of permissive TDY (PTDY) leave, which is free leave that can be used to find a job. If leaving the state we can get an additional 10 days that can be used for moving. After the math and trying to account for the average of 20 days it takes to get orders processed, we came up with the dates I will be using. On April 14th, I will go on terminal (transition) leave. May 27th will be my last day in the army. I will end up with around 10 days or so of leave that I will not use. This will be sold back to the army and I will get paid out for it on my last paycheck. While this sounds good, it’s actually better to use leave instead of selling it back. When used, I receive all the other entitlements such as housing allowance and food allowance. When leave is paid out, it is only paid out at the basic pay rate…which is quite small.

Surprisingly since I’m in WTB, my S1 lady takes care of everything involved with my packet. She sends the required paperwork including my leave form to get signed by the commander. Then she sends it all over to Waller Hall in order to get my orders processed. I was assuming I would have to do all of this myself, so this is a nice little relief. She also gave me my battalion clearing paperwork, so I can now get started on clearing…at least from battalion.

After S1, I headed up to our company and sat down with my squad leader. He had a transition counseling statement for me to sign. He had to go over each piece, but it basically said I will not be dragging my butt to get out of here. I’m guessing they’ve had problems with that in the past. I signed it and then drove home. I gave SPC Mac a call and we chatted for about an hour. Somehow I’ve now passed him up in this whole process. He was about a week or two ahead of me, but is now still waiting to be on TransProc.

I then worked on my schoolwork. When my wife came home we headed to my in-laws for dinner….it’s nice to know an actual date now!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Pre-VA Appt - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 276

I headed to morning formation which was at 0745 in ACUs. I’m guessing because of daylight savings time we had a late formation with no PT scheduled. We did accountability and then dismissed. I headed to the SFAC and checked my email. I then headed to see my ACAP representative and let him know that I’m now in TransProc. He then printed out some paperwork and gave it to me. This paperwork shows that I’ve completed all the required ACAP steps. I then went up and saw my NCM. I let her know I’m now in TransProc as well. I didn’t need any refills or anything so the appointment went pretty quick.

At 0900 I had an appointment with a VA representative in our company headquarters. She gave me some paperwork and said once I get my dates to check back in with her. She will coordinate with the VA and get my first appointment scheduled when I’m out of the army. I drove home and took some pain meds. Pain has been a constant today and just continued to grow. Most days I just deal with it, but not today. I worked on schoolwork, which was a frustration in itself and the stressed involved is probably not helping my pain management. I get a lot out of classes when attending in person, but when taking a class online it can be extremely difficult when everything is not fully understood. This is my problem with my Business Financial Management class. There is a lot of new information that I’m having a hard time comprehending. The questions I have to answer are extremely difficult and it’s frustrating to say the least.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 274 & 275

This weekend was pretty uneventful and laid back. I think once the weather clears up a bit, we’ll be doing more. Saturday was spent sleeping in, then doing some schoolwork. We all went out and watched the movie “Pompeii”, which was a cross between gladiator and the end of the world. It was pretty good and entertained us all. My wife then taught my daughter how to cook one of her favorite soup recipes, which we all had for dinner…she did pretty good! Sunday consisted of sleeping in and then making our traditional big breakfast (pancakes, bacon, and eggs). I always enjoy just taking the time and having a meal together with the family. It seems everyone is in a rush all the time, so we make sure to have meals together at the table whenever possible. In the afternoon my kids left to go home and then I sat down and started schoolwork once again…it never ends now that I’m taking two classes at once.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Just a Chiro Appt - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 273

Sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then I went back to sleep. I woke up about 0900 and did my schoolwork. Around 1130 I drove to Ft. Lewis, but before I went on base I met a friend for lunch. I then received a text from my squad leader letting me know I have a self assessment due. So after lunch I made my way to the SFAC and checked my army email, then completed the self assessment. I then sent my squad leader a text letting him know my self assessment is complete. I then asked him if he has an idea when my final day will be now that I’m on TransProc…I get no response. I really wish I could tell this prospective employer a date, so I can move forward.

I went to my chiropractic appointment in the pain clinic, then drove home. I have to say I’m glad I just use cruise control since I came back from Germany and their autobahns…I see at least a couple state patrols with their radar guns constantly trying to catch speeders every time I make this commute. Once home I received a text later on from my squad leader letting me know Monday’s formation is at 0745 in ACUs, but nothing about the question I asked him. That pisses me off a little.

My girls came over tonight for the weekend. We all went out for dinner and then had DQ Blizzards for favorite!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

TransProc - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 272

The Hammering Man in Seattle...just a quick photo I snapped on my way to the interview

Sent a text to my squad leader “MOU Today”, then I went back to sleep. I got up about 0730, took a shower and got ready for the day. I put on some business casual clothes and boarded the ferry to Seattle for an interview I had scheduled. Right when I arrived in Seattle I received a call from my PEBLO saying that I have been placed on “TransProc”. TransProc is short for Transition Point Processing System and is used by military personnel office and military transition centers. This is the system that will produce my DD214 (Certificate of Release from Active Duty or Discharge). This is good news, this means I’m on the final stage of my time in the army. She told me there is a transitional brief I could attend today, or there is one next Tuesday. I let her know I couldn’t get to today's, but I would attend next Tuesday’s brief.

I then proceeded to my job interview. It seemed to all go very well, but there might be an issue with my start date. They need someone right away, and I am still not out of the army yet. Sucks if that is going to cost me this job! I got a call from the VA representative and setup a meeting for next Monday. I also got a call from my platoon sergeant letting me know that I am on TransProc, I let him know my PEBLO already called me and I’m planning to attend the next brief on Tuesday.

I took the ferry home and then did schoolwork. Later on I picked up my son from his grandparents, then we all went to my in-laws for dinner and then we watched “The Grandmaster”. The movie is about IP Man, who ended up training Bruce Lee. I thought the movie was “so so”, my son ended up falling asleep pretty quickly. Either he was really tired, or the movie was pretty boring for him…lol.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lunch with the Wife - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 271

I sent my squad leader a text today now that he is back from his pass…”MOU Today”. I then headed into the naval shipyard in Bremerton. A desk in the other side of the office happened to be open, so I was able to use that desk for the day. I checked my army and navy emails, then surfed the web. I spent the entire day either chatting with co-workers in the office or just surfing the web. Most of the time spent surfing was checking out individual company sites and their employment sections. I have to admit that the internship with the navy has turned out to be a dud. Unless they need physical help moving something, I really don’t do anything except surf the web. I let everyone in the office know that I would only be working half days when I do come in from now on. I am running short on time in the army and I now have two classes I am taking.

I left at lunch time and headed to my wife’s work to have lunch with her. After lunch I headed home and did schoolwork…nothing too exciting to report today.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Half & Half - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 270

This morning I did go to the naval shipyard in Bremerton. There is a new guy in the office and he’s been given my desk and computer. This seems appropriate because he’s an actual employee and I’m just there as extra help from time to time. I just sat in a chair passing the time on my iPhone. The new guy actually ended up heading to the Silverdale office at the naval sub base for the rest of the day, so I was able to hop on his computer.

I checked my emails and surfed the web until lunch time. I left for good at 1130 as I will do from now on when I head into the navy because I am now taking 2 classes. I need the extra time to make sure I can get everything done. I ate lunch at home and then did my schoolwork. After schoolwork I watched a little college basketball on WatchESPN…my favorite time of the year for sports.

This evening I went and visited my wife at work. She works in the marketing department at a local casino and had to work late because they are promoting “Fat Tuesday”. We had dinner together and I played a little craps before heading back home.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Just the Chiropractor - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Day 269

This morning I slept in until 0900. I heard my platoon sergeant was going to be on pass until Wednesday, so I’ll just let everyone assume I’m working at my MOU with the navy. I had breakfast and then started working on schoolwork. Hey…schoolwork is actually my other MOU, so technically I’m not lying to anyone.

After lunch I put on my winter PTs and drove to Ft. Lewis. I went into the SFAC and checked my army email. Nothing new to report there. I went to the pain clinic and saw my chiropractor for a quick manipulation then headed back home. Seems like a lot of driving for just a few minutes of manipulation, but I always feel better after seeing the chiropractor! Once my wife got home we headed to the YMCA for a workout. I could get used to a schedule like this everyday.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up - (MedBoard: Joint Base Lewis-McChord) Days 267 & 268

Another laid back weekend. Saturday consisted of sleeping in, and having coffee and breakfast with my wife. I then worked on my schoolwork for a while. Afterwards we headed to the YMCA for a good cardio workout. When we got back we cleaned up the house a bit and I did some job searching on the computer.

On Sunday we started off by sleeping in and then having coffee and breakfast together. I did schoolwork and then we hung out at my in-laws for a while. We’ve been spending a lot more time at my in-laws because my father in law is off working TDY in California for a little while. We go up and hang out with my mother in law to keep her from getting too lonely :)

That’s about it…a pretty uneventful weekend! Once the weather starts improving we’ll probably be getting out a bit more.