As I sit here trying to think about what updates to give, I find it difficult to organize my thoughts. I have been feeling a bit more emotional this past week or so...I suspect that it is a combination of the physical challenges of recent weeks and the separation from Karina and the girls....and the future that I expect to experience in the Army. It is clear to me now that JAGs are in high demand amongst deploying units as the nature of the conflicts we are now engaged in bring a multitude of legal issues into play. Deploying brigades have begun to drop officers (non-JAG) in order to make space for an additional lawyer. It is no longer a question of "if" I get deployed, but rather "when" and "where". It doesn't necessarily mean Iraq or Afghanistan...it could just as easily be Germany, Africa, or to Walter Reed hospital in D.C. My primary concern then is being away from Enya and Grace (Karina, too...but she at least will understand the "why" part). In some places, the girls could come with me (Germany, D.C.).
My role upon return to Boston is that of a legal assistance attorney...providing legal "aid" to soldiers on a variety of issues...landlord/tenant, wills, family issues, re-employment rights, consumer issues....plus immigration/naturalization. Legal assistance is perfect for me, obviously. I believe that I become eligible for promotion to Captain in December 2009 (I do not know how long the process takes from "eligible" to "promoted", but would expect it to be 3-6 months or so). Once I am a CPT, the chances for deployment become more likely. I understand that my unit requests volunteers first and hasn't had to do any involuntary deployments...but I would expect that there is some pressure to carry your own weight. As for what I'd do if deployed, I am really interested in civil affairs...being the legal officer of a unit that works with the local communities in responding to their immediate needs...be it building schools or medical clinics or establishing/rebuilding a local judicial system. In civil affairs, I'd have significant contact with the local communities and I believe that I'd be good at that.
I long to return to Charities...in many ways, things seem so much simpler there. Even though there is always a complicated case to deal with or just the mass of people that need assistance, at least I go home at night.
It may seem that I am questioning what I have done by joining the JAG. And I admit it that there are times when I wonder to myself "what am I doing here!"...usually at the end of the day when bedtime looms, I've spoken with Karina, and know that I have 6 hours to get sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. This is definitely the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life. The challenge is so much more than physical...in fact, whereas I once feared the physical aspect of it more than anything, I have overcome that part. I have proven capable of handling the physical difficulties. It is the separation from my family that is now forefront in my mind...and the question of fairness to them that I struggle with. Even though many of my reasons for being here are for their future benefit, it is sometimes very difficult to see them on the webcam and not be able to touch them.
At the same time, I do feel like I am serving our country and our world. My primary role in the service is to uphold the rule of law. As it was put to us at the law school...we are the keepers of the laws and regulations. While they oftentimes are not followed, it is our task to ensure that they are. If not me, then who?