On December 14 of last year, I posted what might well be the most delusional and psychotic thing I've written in the full six-plus years I've had this blog. Fortunately, the calendar turned to 2007, the boot of oppression was applied in full force, and it wasn't even a month into the new year before I was again entrenched on the "no bleeping way" side of the re-enlistment question. Thursday before last - the very day I departed on leave - I was informed by my Chief that the Seagoing Military Force had sweetened its offer for continued service from those Sailors trained in my particular specialty. This wasn't really important to me, but I checked it out last night, and sure enough, reading NAVADMIN 251/07 confirmed that on October 2, the Navy raised both the "multiple" and the award ceiling for Zone A re-enlistments in NEC 3353. I ran some numbers, and determined that if I extend my commitment by four years and two months (ten months to reach four and a half years on Memphis, followed by a forty month shore tour), I would still cap out - and if you didn't look at that message, the cap is now ninety thousand American dollars. I considered this fact, and then said to myself, "that's great. Just wonderful...(cue up Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.)"
One sentence from the message is worth quoting in full:
Community managers are focused on providing Sailors the appropriate incentive to retain the right individuals with the right skills and essential Fleet and leadership experience.If I ever meet the Chief of Naval Personnel, I'm going to ask him what it's like to actually set eyes on one's own small intestine. That's how far the Navy has its head up its ass. These "community managers," however well-intentioned they may be, are utterly powerless to provide myself and like-minded Sailors with anything to keep us on active duty. They can't break me out of three-section duty, and the minimum of eighty hours a week at work that comes with it. They can't break me out of a port-and-starboard watch rotation that guarantees a maximum of five and a half hours of sleep every third day, with the expectation that I'll still be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the following day. And perhaps most notably of all, these community managers can't free me and my brothers in nuclear power from the evil and ever-expanding tentacles of Naval Reactors. Speaking only for myself, if it was about the money, I would have re-enlisted last summer and taken sixty grand, tax free. But as one ex-ELT* recently commented (about the situation on Hampton), "The last post reminded me of why I left the Navy (as an ELT): 1. No amount of money is worth your happiness. 2. McDonald's is always hiring." It was about the money five years ago, when I was broke, deep in debt, and clueless as to viable options - but none of those three conditions are presently in play. I can also say, from experience, that if the money is the primary motivation for enlisting in the military, your experience will almost certainly not be enjoyable. The fact that re-enlisting would buy me nearly a full additional year on the Submersible Death Trap helps to make this a very easy call - the countdown to May 19, 2009, currently sitting at 574 days, continues unchecked.
* = ELT stands for "engineering laboratory technician." They handle most of the chemistry and radiological controls onboard a nuclear submarine.