Thursday, October 22, 2009

Stuck at Fort Benning

I was informed on Friday 16 Oct, that I had to fly to Fort Benning on 17 Oct. I flew down at 0600am Saturday morning, and enrolled in the CRC school. I have to complete a week of training, medical exams, dental,etc. I was supposed to fly to Afghanistan on 23 Oct. Problem is, I was here in May 2009. I had a medical problem, and had to get a medical exam. I was cleared for international travel, and I flew to Kuwait on June 1.

When I went to the medical office here at Fort Benning on Tuesday the 19th, my old medical hold was still on the computer. I told the doctor, that I had seen a civilian doctor in Columbus GA back in May, and that I had just returned from Iraq on 6 September. Nevertheless, I was put on a medical "no-go".

I had to return to the barracks, and turn in my badge. I have been "disenrolled" from training school. I went to the medical clinic on Wednesday morning 21 Oct, and the nurse drew my blood for a blood test. The results should be in on Friday, and then I can see the doctor, and get another clearance letter. I will have to re-enroll in CRC on24 Oct, and go through the whole CRC process again. I should be able to get the military air flight on Friday 30 Oct.

I am stuck in the barracks, with no rental car. I just hang out in the barracks, or go to the recreation center and use the computer. Last night, I watched "The Bourne Identity", and "Jeapordy!".

My military protective gear arrived by UPS, and I showed it to the supply sergeant. I have all of the military issued equipment I will need for Afghanistan. I asked my dentist for a clearance letter, and the office assistant FAXed it in to me this morning.

This Army "hurry up and wait", is maddening. I am perfectly healthy, and I have been working in Iraq and Afghanistan for over 5 years. When I went to the clinic on Tuesday, I got the seasonal flu shot. I still need the H1N1 "up the nose" spray shot. It will be just my luck, if I ge the flu, when I am in Afghanistan.

The good news, is I am on the payroll. I am getting a pay check, for sitting on my behind in the barracks. I have medical insurance. I have all of my military equipment, and I have completed nearly all of the classes here at CRC school.

Once I see the doctor, and get the clearance letter, I will be good to travel. I can't wait to get back to Afghanistan.

Friday, October 09, 2009

On the job for a week

I was hired by a firm on 1 Oct. And- man is it great to be back on the work force. My previous contract concluded on 8 Sept. I started looking for work, from my desk in Iraq, as soon as I learned of the project's completion date. I did what I always do, just get on google, and type in "Iraq jobs". The jobs just pop up. Man, do I love the internet.

After I returned to the USA, I interviewed with a firm, and they were just drooling over me, and offered me a position on the spot. However, the firm did not get the government contract, so the offer was withdrawn. Another firm spotted my resume, and they offered me a position. I was out of work for less than a month.

I work for a firm, that has a great reputation. I signed on the payroll, and went to their office in Falls Church VA. They are a sub-contractor for another firm. The prime contractor is a major firm, that has a telecommunications contract in Afghanistan. I will work on an unclassified telecommunications project in Afghanistan.

Even though I have completed the CRC training (required of all civilians deploying to Iraq/Afghanistan) three times already, I must do the ritual again. CRC is the "CONUS Replacement Center". Which is kind of misleading. CONUS is the Continental United States, whic is the 48 states, excluding Alaska and Hawaii. When a Civilian is going overseas, he/she must complete the week of school and processing, at the CRC. I went through it the first time in August 2005, at Fort Bliss Texas(El Paso). I went through it again, in March of 2008, at Fort Benning GA. I went through it again, in May of 2009.

The prime contractor is in charge of getting me overseas. They tried to get me into the CRC starting on 9 October. There are so many people deploying to Iraq/Afghanistan, that there were no open spaces. Now they are trying for the class that opens on 16 Oct. You fly to Columbus GA on Friday, and report to the office on Saturday Morning. Then you spend a week in classes, and processing paperwork. You meet a formation at 0500am on Friday morning, and go out to the Army airfield, and wait a whole day in the terminal. That afternoon, you fly to Kuwait.

The last flight I took was great. You get on the plane, and then you fly to Shannon, Ireland. You de-plane, and spend four hours in the terminal. The plane is serviced, re-fueled, new crew,etc. Then you get back on the plane, and fly to Ali Al-Saleem Kuwait. You stay in a tent city, and try to get to your next destination. I got a military flight to Baghdad airport, and my supervisor met me. That was on June 2, 2009.

This week , I have been signing up for my company benefits, medical, dental,etc. A couple of days after I returned from Iraq, I got really sick, and had to see the doctor. Since Sept. 8 was my last day of work, I thought my medical insurance was paid through the end of the month. I saw the doctor, and had some tests. I found out that my firm cut me off the medical plan on Sept 8. I had to pay the entire costs. I got my FedEx letter, with the option to purchase medical insurance, two days after I started my new job. I gotta write my congressman. You need to have medical insurance when you leave a job, until you can get your own, or start a new job.