(Hey friends! I’m a week late, but here’s the final chapter in my mini-chronicle about my Air Force experience. Enjoy! Warning: A LOT happened here and this may be kind of long, so I’m going to split this up into a part one and part two.)
To rewind slightly, after I signed my ELS they told me that since I was Reserve and I’m not fighting my case (yeah, there’s legal work to this process) I would be going home as soon as a week but no later than 2 weeks. What a relief, so I thought. After signing the form and waiting a while, I went back to my flight (with a wingman, of course) and went to the class we had on our schedule. About 3/4 of the way into the class, my Team Chief (primary MTI pretty much) tells me to find two wingmen to come with me to the dorms to pack my stuff. Yikes.
God bless both of them, they didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t know I was leaving so suddenly so we were a little disoriented to start. However, we got up to the dorms and I told them what was going on as we were packing all my stuff into my OD Green “Body Bag” (It’s a big freakin’ bag). They ended up having to walk with me to Charge of Quarters (CQ) to sign me out of the squadron and into the new squadron to drop me off. It was a beautiful day, sunny and probably 70 degrees or more on the walk over (it was hot and I wasn’t sweating just from the nerves). It always disoriented me a little bit because I knew normal January’s didn’t look like this, especially with palm trees.
Anyway, after they were told to leave a few minutes after I signed in to the other squadron’s CQ I was given the opportunity to call home and tell them what was going on…in 5 mins. Of course I called my mom and I cried, but it was awkward since 5 minutes seems to pass by in 5 seconds and I couldn’t tell her all the details of why I was separating but I promised I’d tell her when I got out. It sounds like prison, but it actually kind of was minus the orange jumpsuits. The orange armband for the “Sepers” (short for separating trainees) I think was close enough. The two girls that helped me bring my new bedding up to my new dorm were very nice and understanding as I was still pretty upset and quiet, but I was full of questions and #feels. We got up to the dorm and it was completely different from the dorms I was in before. Literally my first thought was, “Oh God, this is what prison is like”. Apparently this isn’t just me exaggerating but a lot of the other girls had the same thoughts and feelings, especially when everyone’s first questions for you are, “What’re you in for?” “Do you know when you’re leaving?” “Oh yeah, you gotta meet with your case worker”, “What’re you going to do when you get out?”. However, I could tell that this was going to be a rough week or two but I was feeling semi-optimistic.
(Closest picture I could find but it was way darker, not even close to this clean and the windows were blacked out with chipping paint. The wall closest to the doorway had a giant painted eye with a bunch of names under it. Yikes.) (Also, I get it. People older than me definitely had these dorms and I sound like a total baby, but if you had to spend any longer than a week here doing nothing like we did in separations, you’d understand. Moving on.)
The weekend consisted of A LOT of crying, napping, being homesick, and filling the void with food at meal times. I’ll be honest, I was really quick to judge these new girls as I felt like the only normal one there. It took me way longer than normal to warm up to everyone but by the end of the week I felt way more like myself than before and I made a lot of new friends. My first friend there (Whaddup DeMaria ❤ ) told me that the quicker I relaxed and had faith that I was going home, the more open I’d be to interacting with the others and bring up dorm morale. So I tried to be positive, but it was hard and I was extremely shy/awkward doing everything, from being anti-social those first couple of days to eating and even sleeping. I made my bed the first night and got “settled”, then slept on top of it with another wool blanket because it got REAL cold at night. It was just that coming from an extremely strict environment where every facet of your life was planned for you; to a place where MTI’s pretty much never yelled, trainees were complacent and did pretty much whatever, and didn’t do PT every day was really unnerving to me. We couldn’t do PT because if we got injured it would restart our paperwork’s processing, thus keeping us there for longer. I showed up around 4pm on a Friday, so I had to wait until Monday to get everything done that I needed to to go home because offices are closed after 5 on Friday. So I pretty much looked forward to Grilled Cheese and Jesus so I could wake up that Monday morning and kick some real administrative butt.
That Monday I was ready to hit the ground running. I had my wingman to go to my scheduled “Newbie Briefing” and wait while I met with my case worker. Thankfully I got a really awesome case worker (Whaddup Jerry), and we got one of my big things on my checklist done: Getting medically cleared to separate. Unfortunately, this appointment was 20 minutes after meeting with my caseworker and I had to find a new wingman. Finding wingmen to go anywhere for appointments in the separation dorm was damn near impossible because everyone’s waiting to sign an LON or has signed an LON and can’t leave squadron area. So I had to run to the Med Hold Dorm to find a wingman to go with me to the clinic to get medically cleared and get my process up and running which took a little bit but it happened. Wingman and I went at 0750 and finally got back just before the DFAC (dining facility) closed at 1300, it was an adventure to say the least. The rest of the week blurred together as I got the rest of my stuff done; something else with DP involving paperwork, signing my LON (AMAZING DAY), cashing out my EZ-Pay Card, meeting with the Reserve liason and wait. I was done with everything by Wednesday and there was a lot of people leaving the day after or 2 days after signing their LON. By this time, at least 6 new girls showed up in the dorms and I’d guess around the same amount left over the course of that week.Thursday was crazy as me and some others were anxiously waiting to see if our names would get called over the stupid box (intercom but we called it the box). That stupid box was our ticket home.
Stay tuned for the next and final chapter of this crazy ride!
Thanks for Reading ❤