color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Re-enlistment?

Sunday, April 17, 2005


I've seen a lot of stories in the news recently about whole units in Iraq re-enlisting together. My initial reaction is usually, "Wow! Isn't that great?!" Until I got a brief note from my 20 year old saying that he was thinking of re-upping while he's in the Box. He said that they are offering a big bonus (tax free if you sign in a war zone) to sign up for an additional three years and they'll forgive the 2-1/2 years he owes on his initial contract AND give him a shot at Rangers. Sounds a little too generous to be true... We know of forgiveness of previous extensions of service contracts, but have never heard of it on original service terms. We'll probably will call Sgt. C (our son's original recruiter) and talk with him.
There's a part of me that wants him to get out and get on with his life away from the Army. When his original contract is up, his friends will be graduating from college and be out in the work world or pursuing advanced degrees. I want him to have the same college experiences while he's young enough to really enjoy them -- and in my mind, the fun you have at 20 and 24 is infinitely different that the same experience at 28... On the other hand, the whole college experience has got to be surreal after you've spent four years in the Army and more than a year in Iraq.
In the alternative, there's a part that would like him to get out, do college and if he's still interested in serving, go back in as an officer. After all, the Army will still be there when he's done with school. Of course, there is a HUGE part of me that wants to be sure he doesn't have to do another deployment... to Iraq, or Afghanistan or Kosovo. They can station him just about any place else, but once is enough for me if they want to send him some place where someone's actively shooting at him. And if he does do Rangers, it's a deployment to some trouble spot (there seems to be no lack of them, huh?) multiple times a year...
Of course, I know he'll make this decision on his own, although I know he'll call and talk to his brothers about it, he'll probably call Sgt. C, and for sure he'll talk to his battle buds. The best I could do was to tell him to be sure to get it in writing and to let his Dad or me look at it before he signs. I also suggested that if he was intent on re-signing, he might want to hold out a few more months (since he's got more than a year left on his deployment) to see if they'll tweak the bonus given that the Army isn't making its quotas and probably won't for the next few months.
I reminded him that even extending six months will probably guarantee another trip to the Box which could mean getting stop-lossed which could add up to a year to that service commitment. THAT got him quiet for a few minutes...
One more thing to roll around in my head to keep sleep from coming at night (sigh). If my hair wasn't already totally grey, it would be a few more grey hairs!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


At 4/18/2005 11:00 AM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

Just try to think of all the things he should be thinking of. Sometimes that bonus make all other concerns disappear, that is for the recruit, not the parents.
You are right in the end it is their decision.
When people would tell me when my kids were little, "they are little worries now, just wait until they are adult worries, these kid problems will seem like a breeze." In hindsight they sure knew what they were talking about.
I'll take the sleepless night, because of an earache, or shooting a hockey puck off of my new garage door, over this military thing, a hundred times over.

At 4/19/2005 3:32 AM , Blogger CaliValleyGirl said...

I also have some issues with the whole re-enlistment thing. But there is one thing I have to respect: they love their jobs. It's got to be a pretty amazing and fulfilling job to convince these guys to risk their lives on a daily basis and leave their families for deployments. I mean, it's not about the bonuses or the salary.
So that is one thing that (kind of) makes me feel better about it. ;-)
But it is true that when they sign that dotted line, they are also signing for their whole family and friends. Another 4 years for them, is also another 4 years for us. *sigh*


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