It’s hard to believe that I became 58 today. With less than two years before my mandatory Army retirement date, I am anxious to serve one more overseas tour in the war on terror. Unfortunately, I am having a difficult time getting released from my training unit because, like everyone else in the Army, they are short of soldiers, too.
I am trying to convince them that my many years of military service should be put to better use before I hang up the uniform for good. Yes, I know I can accomplish things here by helping to train American soldiers, but there are plenty of combat veterans who don’t want to re-deploy right now. They have many more years in which to serve. I don’t.
The Army has a lot of qualified soldiers who want to return to Iraq or Afghanistan, but who are being held back by their units. Training Iraqi or Afghan soldiers or cops would be a terrific way to close out my career. I would also enjoy participating on one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. My contacts in Iraq tell me that their mission on these teams has been rewarding and important. With my law enforcement experience (and my previous business background of self-employment), I believe I have a set of skills that could make a difference.
I first entered the Army over 38 years ago. It was never important to me that I make general or sergeant major. My reward has been to make small differences over the years.
As I enter my last two years of military service, I hope the Army will let me participate in one last overseas mission. I am not asking for special favors; the Army is actively looking for trainers and members of the PRTs. Here I am….
Wish me luck.
SFC Chuck Grist