Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Artwork of Barracks 14

Every friday, between the RDC's*, THU kiddies, and NAVET/OSVETs, personnel are 'randomly' selected to assist the security detail with the graduation ceremony.  For the past five weeks, I have been 'randomly' volunteered to go to this thing.  Its humiliating, degrading work for someone such as myself with four years of service and still a lowly E-3.  I had to do it again last Friday.  This comes after my supervisor told us that we'd get to avoid that if we stripped and buffed the floors of Barracks 14 that's re-opening in time for the 'summer rush'.  Not that we were offered a choice.  I know that as a junior enlisted, mopping floors is a Navy tradition.  But ask me to clean the toilets, then I've got a real problem.

When I was in bootcamp four years ago, I was the guy that went into hiding whenever there was any toilet cleaning to be done.  I guess I'm a germophobe.  Last week I had spent two days scrubbing mildew and hardened calcium out of toilets and pissers, in addition to mopping all halls and heads.  But after all that cleaning, I still ended up for graduation ceremony duty.

 This is Building 14, the place I stayed at four years ago (Officially it's called the USS Arizona, Ship 14, but I refuse to be treated like a recruit after last friday, and I'm calling it Building 14 in protest.  That, and calling a building a ship is stupid).  It's re-opening for the first time in two years.  It was kind of weird being back there.  The murals on the bulkheads walls in the ladderwells stairwells are all still there.  Recruit Divisions that score high in their inspections, drill, GPA, and whatever else it is that recruits do get to paint their divisional mural on the wall.  My division was an honor division and we were supposed to have our mural painted but we just never had time.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Great Lakes NAVET/OSVET (Navy Veteran / Other Service Veteran) Orientation program

Updated 04-Jun-2017: I keep getting hits to this page from Google searches, but all this information is probably outdated or whatever.  It probably changes depending on who is in charge of the program.

Ever since I finished Hospital Corpsman A school four years ago, I've had this reoccurring nightmare where I'd find myself in bootcamp and would be reliving those bad memories.  I always dreaded the thought of going back to Great Lakes bootcamp for any reason, but here I am.  Not as a recruit, but in the "Veteran Orientation" program.  I guess being stuck here isn’t as bad as I thought it would have been.  Most people here in this program are prior active duty (Mostly Navy, but a few airforce, army, and Marines) or, like me, were Navy reservists right out of A School.  It took me a year and a half to get from talking with a recruiter to where I am now, and I went down a rank from Petty Officer Third Class to Seaman, but I think the end result will be worth it.

I lost count how many times I've been to MEPS but it has to be at least my eleventh visit in my lifetime.  They lost my medical records back in January so I had to redo all my tests, shots, and stuff in March.  But that didn't matter anyways because I gotta redo all that here at Red Rover Medical Facility at Great Lakes.

Most people coming into this program from other services will familiarize themselves with basic Navy training stuff like fire-fighting, weapons familiarization, and swim qual.  There are a few of us here who have completed Basic Training in the past five years, so I don't know why they're making us do all this again, but I managed to explain to the instructors that I was in the NAVET/OSVET program and they signed off a few of my classes without me having to sit through them, though I wish I had stuck around for the gas chamber.

Classes, uniform fitting, medical records and processing takes a total of two or three weeks.  About one or two hours a day of processing, the rest is spent chilling in your room until 1500 then you're on liberty (I think I actually sat through three classes which were less than two hours each).  Orders are usually available by then, but a few of us are stuck here for a few months bullshitting because orders aren't available for some reason.  The current record holder is 400 days according to our supervisors.   One interesting thing to note is that there are only about four to eight people in NAVET/OSVET at any given time, and we get a new guy every two to three weeks.  At this rate, there would be about forty to fifty people going through this program per year.

In addition to getting very basic training, which everyone will forget in a month, we're also getting processed and getting medical records taken care of.  I can't think of a good reason why they would send me here, since I had all my records at my local NOSC (Navy Operational Support Center) but I'm getting paid to bullshit here so I guess I can't complain too much.  And don’t bother bringing your uniforms.  They will make you get all your uniforms all over again.  It didn’t seem to come out of my pay check like they said it would, so it doesn’t cost anything but time (which you will have lots of here).

The barracks I'm staying at is great.  We have this building right in the middle of bootcamp with about 75 rooms and maybe less than ten of them are occupied.  The walls must be made of lead because no one gets reception.  There's no cable TV but there are two lounges and one conference room where we can chill and watch movies.  We eat in the same chow hall as the recruits.  The food is not as bad as I remembered.

We have collateral duties which consist of flushing toilets in the empty rooms to make sure they aren't attracting flies, killing said flies, and mopping, buffing, and cleaning all living spaces until they're spotless.  There are days when we literally just sit and do nothing.  Every Friday, Recruit Training Command has a graduation ceremony and our job is to manage traffic in the parking garage, security detail, and pushing the elderly in wheelchairs.  It's pretty mindless but I feel like Fridays are most productive.

As for me, I’m stuck here from April to July.  I kinda feel like I’m wasting away.  I literally have nothing better to do than write this.  I don’t know what the point of this post was.  Maybe someone who is re-enlisting will stumble on this instead of that outdated 50+ post messageboard thread that's about TPU that contains outdated information.  I just sort of typed this up in ten minutes and didn’t bother organizing it, so feel free to ask questions!

RANDOM ANECDOTE WITH NO POINT: During my correspondence with my recruiter (A female, not that there's anything wrong with that, but I honestly wouldn’t have noticed the preceding metamorphosis had it been a dude), there was a few months of silence where I hadn't heard from anyone at the recruitment center.  I thought that they had just decided to stop working with me.  Maybe I don't count in their yearly quota or something, or perhaps I was a thorn in their side, so they sent me to the backburner, whatever that means.  When I decided to make a surprise visit to the recruiting station to see what was up, I freaked out.  The recruiter looked like a damn troll.  She appeared to have shrank 7-8 inches, her neck looked like it sank into her shoulders, the black bags under her eyes made them appear to bulge out, and she seemed to have gained a significant amount of poundage.  Scared the shit out of me.  To be fair though, it could have been that she overstartched the new enlisted khaki service uniform.

Tax dollars at work.