Thursday, February 19, 2004

What am I allowed to tell you?

One of the things about being a military blogger is that I have to be deliberately vague about what I'm writing about. I can tell stories but I usually leave out the names and exact times, sometimes places. I can't forecast to my readers what our plans as a unit are but I can tell you what my plans are as long as they aren't involving a mission. Obviously I'm getting ready to go, too many moving parts in getting a reserve unit ready for deployment.

My job would be a lot easier my reserve medical support showed up before the Marines arrived instead of 3 weeks to a month later. If anyone up above reads this, I don't mean to talk bad about this issue but the way the reserve Medical people are activated is hosed up.

The Marines get a nice refreshing phone call weeks in advance "pack your bags, we're blah blah blah..." They get a date, show up and gather in as a group and get in line. It's kinda like going through a cafeteria, one stop admin, supply, armor, medical, etc.

While on the other hand. When the reserve Corpsman and Doctors usually get their orders it's a total surprise, with a report date that often only days away. To the reservist that are new to the unit, this is a unit that they haven't heard of that, with out a doubt in another part of the country. They've been drilling with the same people for years and then pulled out to go with utter strangers with a different mission then they were trained for. The people that take care of their pay don't have a clue about the unit that's their ultimate destination.

As one of my reserve medical folk found out, his orders told him to report for mobilization to a unit that no longer existed, Reserve Center Santa Ana which was closed down I believe in '98. When he did get to where he was supposed to be they had no idea what to do with him. Took him 3 days of sitting around till they called us, letting us know that they had found our lost person... After checking him in, it took 4-5 months to get his pay straight.

This stuff never ever (not that I've heard of) happens to Marines, they got their shit together, or if there is a problem they put in a fix pretty quick.

During the check in process for Marines the bulk of the medical work that's supposed to get done for the medical side of the mobilization is done on that first day. If it's a remote site, the staff Corpsman is often stuck by himself and has to do all the work because:

a. the medical staff that's supposed to show up hasn't even been identified.
b. They've been identified and they're taking care of pay and personal issues at some other site.

There's no pay support for hundreds of miles around for the Naval reserves except me and I'm usually jam packed with work. There's only so much one guy can do (but my replacement is here so I'm passing the buck soon, heh heh heh, evil laugh). So my replacement guy Pat and I do this whirlwind job and taking care of the bare necessities of getting the Marines mobilized and a couple of weeks later the augmented medical people show up and it's all making sense of the paperwork that we've done. Unless you're on top of your game, there's definitely space for big holes. Activating a reserve unit is like building a dam, you're putting up bricks and trying keep ahead of the leaks, stop them up when you can and keep the whole thing from coming down on your head. But keep making progress and making sure when you're done with a project it's shored up and hopefully when you're done the entire thing will be watertight. Still working out the bugs with the corpsman that came on board and they are working out their bugs with me, we're all progressing towards the same goal, much of the hard part is done and soon I'll be posting from the Box.