Life looks different after hearing life changing news. Your path seems to be laid out in front of you, but there’s enough fog to make you feel lost.
July 25th revealed to me that the next six years of my life would be in Uncle Sam’s hands. I knew, according to the MILPER message and the research I performed on SWIP, that at the very least I would be attending DCC later in the year, followed immediately by BOLC, then on to my first duty station, wherever that may be.
The following Monday I was invited in to fill out paperwork around the acceptance of my commission. “Hey, LT”, my recruiter playfully greeted me. I was quick to offer my appreciation for his assistance in my ascension. I swore in later that day as a 1LT (First Lieutenant) and was officially commissioned as an Army Officer. I was sworn in by a Major, at the Utah State Capital. A group of bystanders applauded after the ceremony and thanked us for the work we do. It was a powerful experience, one that I’ll never forget.
Upon return I asked my recruiter what the next steps would be. I should’ve assumed the answer — wait until your orders post. It wasn’t until later in September where I’d receive an update. Hurry up and wait.
I received a call from an area code in San Antonio, a place I knew to have Fort Sam Houston in it’s city. Sam Houston is the AMEDD headquarters, if you will. I was fortunate to have received the call between my therapy sessions (I had started practicing psychotherapy in May). I spoke with an individual responsible for coordinating duty assignments for SWIP. “I’m here to create your base ‘wishlist’ for SWIP, where would you like to go?” I had my answers preselected as I had researched SWIP sites previously. “Umm…First I’d like Hawaii (obviously), secondly Colorado, and my third option is Washington”. She chuckled a little bit. “Hawaii is the most popular choice, I can’t guarantee it, but Colorado or Washington are realistic options. I’ll forward these and we’ll reach out to you when your duty station has been selected.”
It was the first bit of news I heard on SWIP in a month, I was excited to have received an update.
Two weeks passed and I received another phone call from the same San Antonio area code. Heart pounding, I took the call in my office. “Hi Lieutenant Ashdown, this is Major (Intentionally left blank). I’m hear to give your duty assignment and talk about your orders.” “Great, Ma’am!” I answer emphatically. “Well, I have great news for you, you’ve been assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, congratulations”. “Whooooaaa, that’s great news, Ma’am” I replied.
It was perfect news. I felt the heat of excitement in my forehead, likely prepping me for the sunny days ahead in Hawaii.
I was briefed on what to expect at DCC and to continue to check my email for official orders. They rolled in about three weeks later, which contained orders to DCC, BOLC, and my first duty station. Additionally, I received various information on what to expect in training, the gear I would need to purchase (luckily I had most of it from my enlisted days), and travel information.
The fog had lifted ever so slightly. I, at the very least, knew exactly what to expect at DCC, when I would be going, and how I would be getting there. My travels to Hawaii are cloudy thus far, but clouds come and go with time, and over time will the path make itself clear.