Over 1000 troops from the California National Guard are returning from a near year-long deployment to Kosovo.
The mission is complete. Kosovo is safe. We did our duty, and our families are waiting to see us.
But there is tiny step we have to complete before that plane ride home. It's a series of procedures designed to close out our activation: dental and medical checks, final administrative documentation upkeep, and signing the all-important DD 214.
All this takes place (for us) at Fort Lewis, Washington, where we are given the hero's welcome and housed in run-down building almost 70 years old.
We have sacrificed our time and safety, left our families to fend for themselves, and served a foreign people in a foreign land without complaint all in the name of patriotic honor.
After all that we are met with one final indignity.
I'm not expecting the red carpet, but seriously, I'm sleeping in a bunk that may well have been a Korean War vet's bed. That should be some sort of honor, I suppose.
I just think that there are a lot of ways that the Army could pretend it appreciates its returning warriors more.
You've got to see this chow hall that we have. I think some of the canned foodstuffs were also left over from the Korean War.
To top it all off, a process that should last three days is being dragged out to eight. That's not exaggeration, either. Many of us arrived on Saturday. The contractors don't work weekends, so we began with briefing on Monday, and got our hour-long dental visit out of the way on Tuesday. The remaining three days of the work week will be filled with approximately six hours of tasks.
Gym usage is at a deployment high.
We'd like to get home. The Army doesn't seem to be responsive to Soldiers' needs or wants.
I'll bet those of you who have been deployed have some stories of your own.