Here we go (again).
As I walked into the terminal en route to Ft. Sill, I found myself holding two distinct emotions. On one hand, I was nervous as to what the next month would manifest. On the other hand, complete and utter excitement. I was no longer dreaming for this journey, I was now living it. After all the years of waiting, competing, and struggling, I finally had realized my dream.
I would need to revisit this gratitude throughout the next month.
SLC to Austin. Austin to Lawton. I landed and waited with what would be my peers at DCC. I immediately noticed the professionalism and knowledge in the waiting area as I interacted with fellow healthcare professionals. This felt different from the last time I traveled to a TRADOC environment, as my peers were already well established in their respective professions. I began to learn about various careers immediately, which was a pleasure.
We were transported to Ft. Sill via the “Soldier Express”, for the price of $10 (cash only). I had to borrow cash from a peer as I was unaware of needing to pay for transport. Prior to entering the gate, Students without an active CAC (Common Access Card) would need to receive a temporary pass from the visitors center.
Ft. Sill had a familiar feel to other posts. A massive plot of land with various Army structures strategically placed throughout. I looked out the window attempting to orient myself to the land (a feeble effort). We turned down Miner Road, which told me that we were approaching our final destination.
Waiting outside was one of the cadre responsible for training the new students. “Over here, Sir” in an all too familiar command. I will admit, being called “Sir” as opposed to “Sergeant” takes some getting used to. I was directed inside to in-process into the Battery.
We provided documentation, received our linens, were assigned rooms, and were given instruction for the remainder of the day. I dropped off my belongings in room 242 then made my way to the Day Room to await further instruction. Again, introducing myself to the other students I began to notice that many of them were, too, prior service. This proved to drastically impact the dynamics of the course (more on that later).
As the cadre entered the room, I realized that I would need to re-assimilate myself back into military culture. The NCOs were there to integrate newly commissioned officers into the military, which requires significant structure, corrections, and reprimand. The course is unique as NCOs would command and discipline officers, which wouldn’t be found outside the confines of the course. We filled out preliminary paper work and signed a counseling statement detailing the expectations of the students in the course.
I was hit with a bombshell of information that I, nor the other students, were privy to. Those active duty students whom hadn’t accrued enough leave (PTO) would be unable to exit Ft. Sill at graduation, which wasn’t reflected in the orders. We were later informed that we could “go in the hole 10 days”, so that we could travel home for the Holidays. I felt a sigh of relief to learn that I could travel home on the 23rd to be with my loved ones prior to shipping out to AMEDD BOLC.
Later that night the Battery (Company) marched to the classroom to complete the Oath of Office with the Brigade Commander. He gave a powerful speech about the Oath prior to administrating it. Upon completion we were given the hard time for tomorrow morning and were released to our rooms. I met my roommate, a critical care nurse whom, surprisingly, was from Hawaii. I quickly became grateful for his knowledge and advice about the state I would soon be moving to.