Just Let Us Out

Our stay at Ft. Dix began with the reminder we were still to abide by the first general order -- specifically no alcohol. Even the leadership yearned to let their hair down, as evidenced by its reluctant reminder for compliance. From the beginning the commander worked the issue and brokered a deal allowing us to drink three beers per night at the installation club. The club welcomed the deal as it too suffered under the no alcohol policy - no demand. The deal worked out well for all involved, generating revenue and letting us ease back into civilian life.

The remainder of our instructions were, to make sure we arrived early to each event on our demobilization schedule, because "If you are late then we cannot get you home on time." We arrived early for every event, only to practice our napping techniques while waiting an hour for anyone to show up and start the events for the day. For all of the things that have changed while we've been away, the garrison Army has not.

The rest of the week went by slowly. We listened to several briefings, where briefers were anything but brief and some of them were inaudible. Their messages were a mere formality before we could get out of Ft. Dix and they could collect a paycheck. Some things were helpful, but really, how can a one hour session with a group of 20 people help anyone that really needs therapy? Like I said it was a week of formality, though I hope if anyone needs help, at least they learned where to turn.

The word came that we were to take buses back to Virginia and were even given the option to have our families pick us up from Ft. Dix. Some made those very arrangements since they could not take the atmosphere anymore. Most of us made every effort to be on the buses back to Virginia and not stuck at Ft. Dix due missing any of the demobilization requirements. With the weather forecast of a winter storm - maybe it was a better idea to have family come get us.

By Bert Stover |  February 20, 2007; 8:20 AM ET  | Category:  Demobilization
Previous: On US Soil | Next: Home


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Congrats on your freedom!

When we demobbed at Ft. Sill we too were reminded about General Order #1 and that we were not to leave the base. It was very disappointing that the new recruits going through AIT had more freedom (at least on the weekends) then us, the supposed "heroes" just back from war.

Our command also worked out deals with the Base Commander and we were able to have some time to decompress before we got home to our families. Which was probably a good thing.

Posted by: Dan | February 20, 2007 11:32 AM

Glad you are finally home.

The idea of keeping General Order 1 in place makes no sense. The whole idea of a week of demobilization is to allow for the necessary decompression from war. I would think that going out and having a good time, on base, in a controlled environment would be a part of this process. Sort of a "mandatory kegger" type of arrangement, if you will. Waiting until you have gone through all of the "Don't beat the Wife" and "Don't kick the dog" briefings and are outside the confines and controls of a military reservation is a disservice, both to you and your families. Your group has been through a lot, and should be allowed to heal and celebrate with those whom have shared your experiences.

Thanks for all of your service and sacrifice.

Posted by: Clarence Smith | February 21, 2007 11:05 AM

Welcome home and Thank You for your service to our great country.

Posted by: James K | February 21, 2007 12:09 PM

Welcome home, Bert. Thank you not only for your service to the country, but also for taking the time to share the story of your deployment with the bigger public. You became for me the human face of the Army in Iraq, and you made me proud of you and all your fellow soldiers.

God bless you and all of your comrades as you return to your families and civilian lives. Salute!

Posted by: Brian Smith (onetime soldier) | February 21, 2007 12:37 PM

Thanks for your service to the country, just wish everyone on Capitol Hill felt the same way. God bless you and every serviceman.

Posted by: YankeeStation1967 | February 22, 2007 11:44 AM

I had not given a thought to the make-up of the Administration except for the President, Vice and State. The article titled We Need a Few Good Citizens was a
great awakening to something I have feared.
Namely, the military industrial complex.
I find it ironic also that the President who avoided combat by joining the National Guard now uses that guard to wage war. This is depriving the individual states of their own military needs.

Posted by: Richard I. Learned | February 23, 2007 11:13 AM

Yes, welcome home. Thank you for your efforts. Hopefully, you are in one piece both physically and mentally.

And, hopefully, you can now get started on doing something productive and rewarding for yourself and yours rather than participating further in this useless nonsense in Iraq.

Posted by: Currencia | February 23, 2007 04:21 PM

Enjoy your freedom

Posted by: ralphdkendrick | February 26, 2007 06:28 AM


Posted by: ralphdkendrick | February 26, 2007 06:44 AM

Many thanks for your service, and I hope you return home without many of the emotional disorders experienced by so many troops.

Hope you can return to civilian life easily and without too many issues. And we hope you're not asked to go back.

Posted by: pacman | February 27, 2007 05:58 PM

I live four miles from Ft. Dix and as a dependent of retired military personnel, I wander among all of you, in your various forms of transit. I do not know any of you and yet I feel like I know all of you personally. When we first began this war, I would not look any of you in the face, because I might not ever see you again. But now I look at you and am thankful you went or are going. Because of you, I do not have to worry about 'them' busting down my door and taking what they want....like my freedom. God Bless You.

Posted by: Mary Villano - JERSEY ANGEL, Jacobstown, New Jersey | March 2, 2007 09:51 AM

Ref GO #1: While I can feel the returnees frustrations at remaining under control, I also consider the possible effects of a "kegger" among a bunch of guys and, probably, gals, who are far from "decompressed", and in many ways are "repressed". The angers, grudges, interpersonal irritations, and subconscious aggressions of a year or more in high stress allowed uninhibited expression by the effects of alcohol do not present a pretty picture. Critics should really think matters over more carefully before getting all lathered up over apparent injustice or stupidity.

Posted by: | March 3, 2007 01:58 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company