Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIII – FTC

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My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIII – FTC.

 

[Kilroy left BCT on Day 69 of his military experience, and after 29 days of Con Leave he’s headed back to join the FTC (Fitness Training Company) for physical therapy].

Day 98

Like most days in the military, this one began in the dark. My allotted leave is over and now I must return to Ft. Jackson to see if I’ll begin my physical therapy or be sent back for extended Con leave.

I’ve been concerned for the past week that the injury I’ve been having no trouble with has suddenly flared up in pain. I still cannot get up stairs, leading with my left leg, without  constant pain, and for some reason it seems to be worse in the mornings.

I know that starting physical therapy will be painful, and I wonder if I will be sent home for further healing time. Whatever happens, I’ll have to focus and stand strong in the face of all of this.

Day 99

It’s not yet even the dawn of a new day and my night has gone poorly. Re-acclimating to the sleep schedule wasn’t that difficult, it’s the misery this place embodies. Seeing how they treat the TDD platoon is motivation enough to push forward. [TDD stands for Trainee Discharge Detachment. It’s where people go when they’re chaptering out of Basic Training]. The people being discharged are treated like human garbage.

The only goal anyone has in this place seems to be to spend as little time as possible in it. The people opting to join the TDD group just want to be done with this place; all of them want to be out and away from the system with the option to return later. I don’t have that choice. I can’t afford to.

How should I describe this place? The 120th AG seems to be running itself into the ground. As far as I can tell, the buildings were constructed sometime in the ‘60s and have never been touched since. Even the officers and NCOs here appear to be injured. The company commander had a pretty severe ankle injury and was in a boot for a while, and all the NCOs had various health problems that were either bad enough for them to have been sent on Con Leave or to have received permanent physical profiles for their condition.

The rumor mill has me worried. There are people here being medically discharged for the same reason I have – forced out of the rehabilitation program because they weren’t showing signs of healing and improvement. I have to heal. I have to win. On the side of good news, however, I have been scheduled to enter the rehabilitation program soon. My energies must remain focused in the direction of healing.

There’s a kind of quiet desperation to my situation. Mine is not the story the army wants told. The best part of today wasn’t even the news that I would be able to move on, it was actually being able to talk with a friend from my old company. Her opinion is the same as many others who are familiar with my situation – that she would probably would have quit in my shoes.

My greatest, only concern, is my health. I need to get better – be better. For now I can look forward to a friend of mine showing up in the next week.

Day 100

Today is the start of the first weekend here. There’s nothing important happening today. We had a late wakeup, the same meals, and free time to do whatever. Not much to say, really. I’m awaiting change – either the return of a friend or the ability to move on.

The more time I spend here, the more little, nasty, details I begin to notice: the particular shade of wear and tear to the paint, the foul feeling of the grime, how thin and insufficient the sheets seem to be. In the afternoon and into the evening I was assigned to staff duty – sitting at a desk for 3 hours reading A Game of Thrones. Potential jokes aside, the weather here is cold now, a winter that chills us all to the core.

Day 101

Another day of arbitrary time wasting. My time is spent reading and writing with plans to use the Day Room later if possible. [The Day Room is sort of like a recreation room].

[At night, Kilroy continues below].

I’m back again with night duty; I’m sitting at a receptionist desk doing some more nothing. The military seems to be great at finding a whole lot of nothing to keep people occupied.

What I do want to do is take the time and ponder more around the idea of kismet, destiny, and fate. Over and over again, some voice in my distant mind has always told me to follow a certain path in the most arbitrary of ways. I’ve always trusted that voice and now it has led me here. Looking at my past in retrospect has always painted it in a way that makes sense, but I know that the actual way forward is somehow more complicated than I could ever hope to understand. Where I am now is a kind of limbo – non progress with no ability to say that I’m doing something I enjoy. On the one hand this feels like the most trying time of my life, on the other I feel so dead inside I think I’m simply passively accepting whatever happens to come my way. Where I am now is the true dredges of the army, a place broken toys go to see if there’s anything left in their souls to continue on.

Many here do not seem to have the motivation or wherewithal to try to continue their military career. In my lowest moments I consider why I’m here. I’ve told my friends and myself that I wanted to do work for the government – to be part of the intelligence community in ways that would matter. Instead, now I’m stuck here feeling like I’m wasting time.

Day 102

Today is the day I’m supposed to be evaluated for entry into the WTRP [Warrior Training and Rehabilitation Program] program.

I wonder how it will go. As of this morning, I’m not too hopeful. My leg hurts in ways that I’m having difficulty trying to describe. Some part of me would like to go home for just a little while longer, but my chances of that seem astoundingly low.

I’m surrounded by people whose first instinct is to simply give up at the first major challenge. I’ve been advised to simply ask again for more leave, but I’m ready to move past this.

The good news is that my bones seem to be healing well. The impact of the injury on my right side has healed over with scar bone matter. They say I should make good progress in the WTRP.

I’m just glad that my body is healing. The spiteful struggling determination I used to drive myself forward certainly ran me into the ground. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

A final recap for the day: my initial injuries seem to be completely healed. All of the fractures and damage I had done to myself are now healed up. The left leg that had surgery is stable and the right side has also patched itself up.

 

This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIII – FTC. Next time we’ll pick up where we left off, as Kilroy continues his time in the Fitness Training Company. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIV – FTC.

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