Saturday, May 20, 2006

Where do I start??

This past week has been a whirlwind. We were part of the welcome home party for two different Armory units. We opened old offices in Rome and Cedartown. We spoke with three classrooms on "career development". We ran down parents and kids from all over NW Georgia. We have a full schedule lined up for next week. whew. I'm loving every minute of it.

Although I really enjoyed greeting the troops coming home, it was physically and emotionally exhausting! It is so high energy it saps all your strength. And teaching in a classroom all day?? Teachers, my beret is off to you. My goodness, those kids require you to stay on your toes every second. I loved being in front of them and talking about their futures. They have so many questions and are just scared to death. It was nice to talk about what their hopes and dreams for the future are.

I absolutely love dealing with the kids. We had to chase down several for paperwork and signatures. I want to talk about two in particular because they stole my heart. Thursday we were delivered four packets for four kids from a recruiter that is on his way out. We made calls to four sets of "parents" and got screamed at, hung up on and made plans with the other two kids.

Yesterday we drove to an "alternative" high school. This is a school for trouble kids. As we entered I was astonished. It was a dump to say the least. We found the office and asked the nice woman if we could see Josiah and Billy. She paged them to the office and we chatted about the two boys. "Well I hope you can do something with them. They sure do need something!"

In walk two teenaged boys. Josiah was tall standing (or slumping) at 6 foot 3 inches. He has dark hair and deep brown eyes. He has a vacant stare and looks like he is just waiting for someone to give him direction. Billy has sandy blond hair and sharp blue eyes. He is tall, as well, at 6 foot and 2 inches. Both boys have an awful complexion, a combination no doubt, of poor diet and hormones.

Josiah wears a Crue T-shirt and being an old heavy metal fan I strike up a conversation about the t-shirt. His face lights up and he says "Now yer talkin 'bout ma kinda music!" We discuss the Scorpions, Iron Maiden, AC/DC etc., as my supervisor discusses some issues with the school secretary. We get permission for the two to miss school this coming Wednesday to go to MEPS.

MEPS is the Military Enlisted Processing Station. AT MEPS our two will take the ASVAB (aptitude and vocational skills) test Tuesday night and then have their first military physical and swearing in on Wednesday if all goes well.

We go over their packets for enlistment and any issues. There is more paperwork to fill out. Billy is concerned that he may not graduate high school next year. The mama in me comes out and I tell him that sure he can! He says he has to pass all his classes next year, he can't fail one. My heart broke. At 18 he can't even hope to pass all his high school classes. I looked him straight in the eye and said "You're smart aren't you??" He shrugs his shoulders. I continue "Sure you are, just look at you! You can do it! I have confidence in you!" He stands a little taller and my boss says "We will study with you, tutor you, do whatever it takes to make sure you graduate. You do NOT want to go with a GED!" This is spoken by a man with a GED and then a college degree. Billy looks hopeful.

We discover that we still don't have Josiah's birth certificate. He says he has it at his home. We also need a final signature from his parents on the paperwork he just filled out. Josiah explains that he lives with his aunt and uncle and doesn't know where his parents are. He explains that his aunt and uncle are staying at friend's house during the day to babysit. We get directions to the house and make arrangements to meet Josiah after school to get his birth certificate.

As we leave the school I had to stop and use the latrine. Can we say nasty? Billy and Josiah leave to return to their class. As I am leaving the school I walk past a room where Billy and Josiah are excitedly telling their buddies that they will be going to Army Boot Camp this summer so they can join the National Guard. They have hope and their voices reflect the joy of hope.

We drive to the home where the "aunt" and "uncle" are staying. We spot three brand new cars in front of a very aging home. There is a newer barn type building in the backyard, with a very big lock on the door. We knock on the side door and a woman comes running through the front door shouting, "No! You need to come to the front door!". Hmmm.

We enter a dump. I mean, a dump of a "home". It stinks, there are clothes, toys and dirt everywhere. She invites us to sit down but we (gladly) say we can stand. She signs the papers and sighs and complains about Josiah. "I hope y'all kin do sompin' wit him. He's a mess." This last pronouncement makes my blood boil. The translation for "he's a mess" is I am a lazy shit too self absorbed to actually give a flying fart about the child who is in my care to ACTUALLY discipline or teach him to succeed. It is a blanket statement to cover all the ill behavior of a child...."she's a mess...." sigh, cover my heart with my hand "I can't do anything with him/her." It starts when the child is about 2 and continues through out their lives. GOD FORBID you should actually teach the kid that HE CAN BE RESPONSIBLE!!!

We get signatures, we make arrangements to meet Josiah for the birth certificate. We leave the "home" and my two comrades remark on the mysterious barn. Both have worked in Law Enforcement before and comment that the barn and the new cars go together. My boss says "Can we say Meth Lab?!" Yikes. My hearts breaks a little more.

We return to the office and begin processing their parperwork into the computer. Since I am new I am to put in Josiah's info and look everything over in both files. Since they are joining the military they have to account for all their history for the last 7 years. They haven't moved around a lot, that is encouraging. As I get to put in the information on Josiah I get to his mother's information. Her location is unknown. My heart breaks again. The poor kid doesn't even know where his mother is. Then I get to Billy. Mother? Location unknown. Damn. Just Damn.

Good news? These boys are joining the Army National Guard. They will go to boot camp this summer and come back in time to attend their senior year in high school. They will drill one weekend a month with us! They will be watched over, encouraged, disciplined and then after high school graduation they will go to Advanced Individual Training (AIT). They can come back home to drill with the Guard or join the Army, Marines etc. They have a future, a hope for the future.

Feels damn good to be a recruiter.

9 Comments:

Blogger Cowgirl said...

Awesome. There's hope in the world for those young men.

Do you think you found your niche?

Saturday, May 20, 2006 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger SGT Lori said...

Yeah, I do. I have been told that if you look at these kids as just a number ...get out of recruiting. I see them as individuals with a destiny to fulfill.

Sunday, May 21, 2006 7:06:00 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

You are wonderful.
Except you forgot the tissue alert.
Don't ever toughen up. You have a good heart :)

PS. Did you cut your hair?

Monday, May 22, 2006 3:42:00 PM  
Blogger Rainman said...

Kudo's to the Guard and to you for helping those two kids and going the extra mile. They dont realize it now, but you just gave them both a future. I wish more kids would get that sort of encouragement and postive reinforcement.

So did you drop a hint to the local law enforcement about the pole barn situation?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 8:31:00 AM  
Blogger SGT Lori said...

Kim, I did cut my hair. And I mean *I* cut my hair. The guys were amazed when I left at 2000 and showed up at 0700 with shorter hair. I can cut a straight line was my reply. I actually do a pretty good job. I need to go and have a real good cut next time though.

Rainmaggotskills; I WILL drop a line to the local law enforcement after these kids ship. I don't need him being homeless before boot camp. Sad, sad, sad

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:48:00 AM  
Blogger mauser*girl said...

Sounds like a really good start. :)

By the way... I don't know if you have to type up LRLs (phone lists) like the Reserve and active duty do, but if so, I have a fantastic recommendation for you. It's a program made by Abbyy called "Scan to Office". Basically you can slap any paper document onto your scanner and it will scan it, recognize the letters on it and automatically transfer it into Word or Excel. It's the Best. Thing. Ever.

I end up doing Trueman's LRLs much of the time and it saves me from having to type 500 names per school list.... :P Of course, don't tell anyone. It looks like I may have a deal with the other recruiters to "type" theirs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger Day by Day said...

I'm so glad you are enjoying this. We need more people like you! :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 11:26:00 PM  
Blogger brian said...

Good thursday morning,
Just checking in to see how you are doing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:45:00 AM  
Blogger SGT Lori said...

Scan to Office...SWEET!!

Thursday, May 25, 2006 7:12:00 PM  

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