Sunday, November 06, 2011

Drill Sergeant Spouse Seminar

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One of the programs I volunteer for is in charge of helping put together the Drill Sergeant Spouse Seminar once a year. I have had the opportunity to facilitate the Army Community Service portion for the past two years. I really enjoy being a part of it because when Kevin was on the trail over 10 years ago, we didn't have anything like it. I remember feeling very alone with three kids under 5 and wondering if anyone felt like I did. I think it's awesome that there is a seminar that gives Drill Sergeants and now AIT Platoon Sergeant Spouses the opportunity to meet, network and have a day all about them. The first day is all in a classroom setting, being briefed on different aspects of the day and the life of a Drill Sergeant and AIT Platoon Sergeant. We had awesome briefings from our Fort Leonard Wood Drill Sergeant of the Year, DS Facio and our Fort Leonard Wood AIT Platoon Sergeant of the Year, SFC Bell. They did an amazing job. We gave a few other classes but what was real key was the opportunity these women had to know that their feelings were valid and that they weren't alone. I love being able to be a part of this.

Day 2 is all about seeing some of the things that their Soldiers would be doing with the trainees. Last year I was invited to attend day 2 but declined because I thought it might be awkward since my husband was not on the trail anymore and hadn't been in like a decade. I was invited again this year and decided what the heck, why not. They didn't have this seminar when Kevin was a Drill Sergeant and it sounded like fun. I'm so glad I went. I had a blast with these ladies. We got to fire weapons, eat a dining facility, tour different barracks and do a team development course. For me, nothing was really new, some things were different but it was nothing new. I thought it might make me think of my life as a Drill Sergeant's wife but what it actually did was take back to when I went through basic training.

I was surprised at the emotions that this experience brought back. It was neat to realize I remembered my days from Basic Rifle Marksmanship (BRM) or what it was like to be on a cattle car. I loved chuckling with a couple other Spouses who had had been Soldiers about the community showers and how you just learn that modesty doesn't exist when you have 5 minutes to shower. There were so many memories that came flooding back. Most made me smile or chuckle at what a knucklehead I was back then. I was really surprised in the DFAC though. Towards the end of our meal, a group of Red Phase Soldiers came in. Red Phase is the first phase and these Soldiers had only been in training for two days. As you can imagine it was still a process of learning what "right" was. The Drill Sergeants were all over them, yelling at them, in their face. I was surprised at the amount of emotion that welled up in my chest. I turned to the girl to the left of me and said "oh man, I don't know why, but I feel like crying!". I turned to my right where the two girls who had served in the Army also were sitting and they WERE crying! After talking to them, we all realized that watching that had taken us back to being that private, trying hard to get it right and feeling like we would always be wrong. It was a very vulnerable time.

I enjoyed going and seeing all the cool things. I did not enjoy the parts when we saw the Drill Sergeants being Drill Sergeants and I realize it's because I remember.

I am grateful that this opportunity is available for Spouses today. I wish it had been around when Kevin was on the trail. I am glad that I went and got to remember my days at Basic Training...I am proud of my time and I am proud of what I accomplished and I am grateful for those memories, the good and not so good.

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