Wednesday, January 17, 2007

It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To -- Until De'on Makes Me Stop

Y'all missed a great party at my house this morning. Misery was here and brought its best friend -- self pity. Yeah, it was a great time. All the fun ended, though, when De'on sent me an e-mail that jerked my world back into perspective, and I was left alone with my party hat and no company. It was a great e-mail.

Several things happened today that got me out of sorts, but the kicker was a call from Sgt. Castillo, the Army recruiter I had been working with since August. Ever since I covered Aaron's memorial in Sunray, I've felt that I had to do something other than be a journalist, and that feeling evolved into a belief that I should return to the military. My Air Force days were long over, but the Army had changed its age limit, which made me eligible to join. I took it as a sign that the Army wanted me.

To condense the story, a glitch occured during the physical. The technician, or whatever he's called, at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) administered an EKG that said it was abnormal. In the military that's a death knell. While in the Air Force, I knew some noncoms who were medically discharged, against their wishes, because they had developed heart problems. The military doesn't negotiate when it comes to a medical problem.

But the thing is ... I don't have a heart problem. Sgt. Castillo and I mounted a battle against MEPS. I went to the VA where they administered extensive tests and determined that there is absolutely nothing wrong with my heart or anything else. All that information was sent to MEPS, along with a waiver request. Well, this morning, Sgt. Castillo called me and said MEPS denied it and is standing by its decision that I have coronary heart disease. The 1st Sgt. argued with them, asking them to at least give me another EKG, but they said "getouttaheah."

The news put me on my back, emotionally, until De'on sent me an e-mail after I wrote to her complaining of my predicament. The note, like I said, yanked me back to my feet, and I'm grateful.

She forwarded to me Doc Duty's memories of April 26, 2004. Those words made me realize that my sufferings are petty compared to what American warriors endure daily.

I had a cushy office job in the Air Force. I worked mostly with officers who treated me pretty much like one of them, even though I was enlisted. I fired a weapon -- twice -- in basic training. That's it. From that I received permission to wear a ribbon for marksmanship. Kind of silly, huh?

I'm not ashamed of my service in the Air Force. I'm proud of it, but I'm not going to sit here and compare it to what Aaron, Sgt. Knipper, Doc Duty, Sgt. Rett and Lt. Rich did. I served during peacetime, and the worst thing that happened to me during my time in the Air Force was the day in basic training when our TI got mad about something and made us empty our lockers and then put it all back in. The meanie.

So, this morning, I was feeling sorry for myself because MEPS won't give me another EKG and the world forgot to revolve around me today. Yes, my ego was dented by the MEPS' decision that I can't join the Army, never mind that I scored 93 on the ASVAB and I fired a weapon twice during Air Force basic training. Just look at what they're turning down!

I guess I'm embarrassed that I can't go back into the military at a time when our country is at war.

But I'm so deeply grateful to the hundreds of thousands of American men and women who did join the military and are defending our great nation. When we think that life has dealt us a dirty deal, stop for a second and think about what it's like for them in Iraq and Afghanistan now. We will go about our business and not have a single shot fired at us. They won't enjoy that safety. But we will -- because of them.

Thank you, warriors.

5 comments:

Flag Gazer said...

Steve~
Thank you for your desire to serve our great nation in the military. You still serve it in other IMPORTANT ways.

While I see your frustration completely, I am HAPPY that you don't have any heart disease. As I am still in the midst of testing to find the way forward with mine, this is something to celebrate.

So, put the party hats in the closet!! It isn't what God has planned for you...

Steve Ramos said...

Thank you for helping me see it's not in God's plans for me. I'm grateful that my health is good. When the doctor at MEPS told me, after looking at the EKG, that it's possible to have a heart attack without knowing it, I spent a few days wondering if it could have happened. But as an adult, I've never had a day when I had to lie down for anything ... and I've had only one headache in my life. That was long ago in the 9th grade, so I don't take good health for granted.

I guess I was angry that MEPS would make me out to be something sickly when I'm not. It's an ego thing! My heart might be in tip top shape, but my ego is a little bruised!

Is your heart OK?

De'on Miller said...

Yes, Flag Gazer, what about your heart, outside of the fact that it must be the largest red, white and blue one that I know of.

Auto prayer for Flag Gazer, everybody!

Flag Gazer said...

They don't know - another test tomorrow morning...

I haven't felt right for some time, but they keep testing... I do hate the entire thing and I've never been sick before - and I'm not good at it! LOL!

Promise I will tell you when I know. Thank you for caring.

PS - I have learned that it is possible for any of us to have a heart attack without knowing it and most of us will at some time... I've also learned that EKGs while you are emotionally stressed will read badly. I think God has different plans for you and I think His humor is our bruised egos. You have to admit, in hind sight, they are funny!! - at least mine are...

De'on Miller said...

What an attitude you have. Yes, make sure we know.

You are an awesome lady. Any idea as to when or how?

Thank you for sharing, Flag Gazer. And thank you for the sacrifices you make to keep things running for our troops!