I Love This Place
I have now spent a little over a year on active duty. My first month was with the 81st RRC in Birmingham. After that it was on to Ft. Hood for six months with the 2/135 GSAB. Now I've been in-country for almost 5 months with the GSAB and as Brigade Chaplain for the 36th Combat Aviation Brigade.
The other week I had the strange thought that this is now my "normal" life, and my life back home is the exception. All the luxuries and amenities of life in the U.S. have been replaced by a simpler and somewhat more spartan existence. But like any adjustment after a while, I've stopped missing having a shower or toilet in the building where I live. I have grown to enjoy the camraderie of eating in a mess hall with 1,000+ other Soldiers.
It helps that I love the work I do. Here ministry is real, relevant, and immediate. If someone is taken to the hospital you go immediately, because otherwise you'll miss them as they are evacuated out of the area of operations. I regularly deal with people who are suicidal or have serious marital distress. I don't have to deal with the little old lady who is miffed because I didn't greet her in the hallway (never mind that my attention was fully focused on the 35 year-old woman telling me she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer). The little gripes and complaints of life back home are replaced by real life emergencies. I can see why it is so difficult for so many Soldiers to go back home where the priorities and concerns are so different.
It also helps that I love the Soldiers I work with. I have been with these Soldiers for 10 months, 24/7. We eat, work, play, fly, and live together. I have a Command that gives me free reign, and supports me and my ministry more that I have ever been supported before.
This is not to say that I do not miss my family and friends terribly. Nor is it to say that I don't miss life as it was back home. It's just to say that I have made the adjustment and that I am doing important work here. Maybe the most important of my life. And don't worry about me extending or going active duty. I'm looking forward to going back to the local church with a rejuvenated sense of calling.
It's just to say: I love this place.