The Weakest Link
I injured my left thumb last week during basketball PT so I shouldn’t be typing. Now, a week later, my thumb is still swollen with bruises. I went to the TMC (troop medical center) and got my hand X-rayed. The doctor told me I had no broken bones and that my thumb should heal within a few weeks. Praise God, because God delivers the righteous, not one of my bones will be broken (Ps).
As I sat in the van, I thanked my relay sergeant for giving me a ride to the aid station. Once there, I will get my thumb double-checked. He told me no problem, because I am one of the best soldiers in the platoon. He told me I always volunteer for details and always help out. I got a brigade coin a few months ago because my whole battery nominated me. That was scary. And today, the sergeant major of the battalion talked to me and told me I must be saving lots of money, since I hardly go out. I also shook hands with him. That was also scary. Normally, when you do talk to him, it is because you are in trouble. Everyone in the battalion fears him. This whole “best soldier” thing is scaring me. I’m never the best; I’m always the weakest, not because I want to be, but because I am.
During basic training, I was so physically weak that I almost got kicked out. The six hours of sleep allotted is enough for everyone but me. I was tired all the time that I cannot think. I was forced and bent under peer pressure to say and do things I don’t want to do. Any spare time I have is divided between reading the Bible, singing songs, and trying to close my eyes. I had trouble listening and remembering what my drill sergeants are saying, and thus, I had to have a “babysitter” to be with me at all times. Praise God, because he was very helpful and kind. Having no experience in mechanical things (my dad even fixes my bike tires for me), I was slow to learn almost everything in the Army. There is hardly any book learning, everything is hands-on. I had difficulty communicating, thanks to a combination of shuddering, nervousness, and fatigue, learning, and performing Army standards. I almost always fall out of platoon runs, first to tire on upper-body exercises, and I usually forget even how to do exercises. I got constipated, fever, and injured my feet. The only thing I wanted during BCT was rest, but I hardly got any. I had to resort to something similar to psychological warfare. I had to pretend I’m as stupid as I’m weak so I could be treated better. I had to endure verbal taunting daily and I only have one or two soldiers I can call friends. It sucks. I see other soldiers, other people, and they are all so strong and blessed. 4 hours of sleep doesn’t faze them; they still laugh and joke all day long (see Ps. 73). However, despite all this, I refuse to quit, because doing so would be so shameful, and I also refuse to let this torture training harden by life. I managed to pass my PT test during basic, barely, but to me, that was a big praise God and I graduated with an award as the most improved soldier. I hardly feel improved, I just relied on God. If I were to go through BCT again, I would probably be the same. Everyone in basic knew I was the weakest link, second only to the battalion.
AIT (advanced individual training) was a easier on the physical side, but it’s still almost the same environment. Although we do get a little more sleep, I still feel tired. I couldn’t pay attention in class (we are learning patriot stuff) and I struggled to stay awake. The one time I chose to sleep, I woke up with a sergeant (add a drill before it too) up my face. I never slept since. But praise God, I still managed to pass my tests. I hardly volunteer in BCT or AIT simply because I am so weak and tired. I want to, but I can’t. I ran on “low-power” mode the whole time. There are times when I wished I could just die, yes, die. There are times when I just wanted to fall out of formation and just lie down and cry. Pray and cry. Everyone would probably surround and scream at me, but I will just ignore them. I would just pray and pray. Then they would probably punch me and hit my pressure points, but I will still ignore them and pray. Towards the end of AIT, my class went to the field. Some fun in the sun, right? Nope. Although I almost finished my training, I felt I hardly learned a thing. If I was told to emplace or operate any equipment (except computers, even patriot computers, simply because I love computers), I would have no clue. My whole time in the field was a struggle. Even when it’s time to rest, there are always surprise attacks which forces us to grab our rifles, and wearing combat gear (I always sleep in them), rush outside to the nearest sandbag. There was a time when we got smoked (punished) doing this because we aren’t “motivated” enough. I still don’t understand this motivation concept. I would prefer to tell the truth and trust in God. I hate to pretend to be all sappy and gung-ho just so others can see, while I feel the opposite inside. For our smoking, we had to run from our tent to the sandbags over and over again. For some reason, I was again the weakest link. I was trying to do my best, but everyone, even the fatter ones (sorry), run faster than me. I don’t understand this. It seems like everyone is better and stronger than me. They learn faster, and are quicker than me. I feel so stupid, dull, and weak. Completely useless. Again, I had to pretend I’m about to fall out, so they could let me drink water, while everyone else is still getting smoked. Justice is simply not fair in AIT. You could get blown up for just a little thing. My squad leader told our class to mop and wax our rooms. To me, it isn’t easy. Even getting the equipment to wax the floors is hard. I tried, I did the best I could, but due to my fatigue, and my roommate is getting chaptered out, so he can’t help me, I didn’t make the deadline. Then there was a time when I was playing my guitar singing Christian songs right before weapons draw. I just had to pray, I had to sing praises to God, I have to have some devotion time with him before I continue my job. I thought I was on time, but because I didn’t come early like everyone else (they were all looking for me), I got hammered. At first, I thought I might receive some mercy from the sergeant doing the weapons draw, since he was a deacon so I thought he would understand my needs and grant me mercy. Instead, he was merciless and made me write a thousand word essay. That wasn’t too bad, since in basic, I had to do a three-thousand one, but add that to my squad leader’s demands to wax the floors, and I’m done. Then, the one day I forgot to bring my ID card (forgot due to shower), our battery had a urinalysis. Everyone is required to bring one, so I got in trouble again. These three strikes led my squad leader to give me an Article 15 (the mother of all punishments), on top of all the punishments I am getting. Oh, and by the way, my weekends suck too. Since I wasn’t strong enough (it’s sad that the military looks at the legs of a horse rather than at the heart), I was only given an Amber 1800 pass, which means I only have a few hours of free time rather than a whole days worth. Wow, so article 15 for three incidents. I was scared and depressed. I missed her last deadline to wax the floors because I was having diarrhea, but I can’t really use that as a reason. Everything I say will be taken as an “excuse.” Shortly after that, I had a fever. I am condemned, because all these charges on paper are true. But you know what? I still managed to graduate with my class, and I heard later that my article 15 was canceled. I was just about to do something desperate if that wasn’t taken off. Having an article 15 means either having extra duty, which means even more work and less sleep, or they take away my pay, or both. I would rather have them take away my pay; money means nothing to me at that stage. Praise God, that I called to him, and he answered me. He is surely my mediator.
It was not until when I got to my unit that I finally learned to be longsuffering, to endure, to be patient. Before I learned this, I tend to respond much more rashly and without much wisdom. Now, I finally learned to endure pain, suffering, and shame. Of course my capacity is still limited, but God always finds a way for me. It seems when I was just about to do something desperate, things change. Even the times when I get angry at life and God, when I choose to sin, he still loves me and still protects me. Of course, I am still weak. Weak physically and mentally (I’m a slow learner), but with God, I can survive.
I apologize for any English mistakes in my writing, since I wrote all this in about an hour. And I wrote this at night, since I am best at night. I wrote many notes on facebook that I deleted, and some talked about my experiences during BCT and the Army. I’m still thinking about re-posting it, or re-deleting it, since it’s so embarrassing. But I’m writing this so others can know more about me, if they want to know, that is, and also because the truth will set me free.
I also know that there are people who will embarrass or reject me. That is the reason why Facebook was so discouraging to me, then again, I don’t feel like talking to my old friends, so why should they? Be prepared, I am not going on facebook for another few weeks due to this note.
I also talked to my education counselor recently. I hope I can get in Mid-America Christian University with a major in Christian Ministries and also one in math. I was so happy to find a university that offers both Bible studies and math and a university that is part of the military agreement. I failed college once, but now, I am getting another chance. This time, I am not under law (admission requirements, GPA, etc), but under grace (simply being in the Army).
PS: I wrote this a long time ago and I feel it’s missing a few parts. When I have the time, I will go back and revise it. God bless you!