I was fortunate to spend almost five years on the enlisted side of the Army National Guard before I received my commission. My time spent as an enlisted soldier has undoubtedly made me a better officer and will certainly make me a better Chaplain. I know what the soldiers at the bottom of the totem pole experience because I have been there.
Starting at the bottom was also nice because I was able to get two sets of ACU uniforms along with three pairs of tan boots before I got my commission. For those who don’t know, officers have to buy their own uniforms whereas the enlisted soldiers have them issued to them. That has definitely saved me some money as I have only so far had to buy one additional set of ACU’s and plan on buying one more at some point in CHBOLC.
Being prior service also taught me the importance of poagie bait. In Basic Training, poagie bait was contraband that usually consisted of candy, CD players (mp3 players weren’t very popular when I went to Basic), girlie mags, and tobacco. I feared the wrath of Drill Sergeants enough not to mess with that stuff in Basic (and I always avoid the girlie mags and tobacco as a rule). Today, I generally use the term “poagie bait” to refer to whatever I can get my hands on to make training easier, be it an energy bar, a roll of duct tape, or strand of 550 cord.
Yesterday, I went to Wal-Mart and stocked up on poagie bait. I bought some things that I knew would come in handy if I needed to grab a quick breakfast after PT or a quick snack at lunch. I bought some granola bars, instant breakfast drink mix, and a box of peanut butter crackers. I also bough some common sense necessities like dish soap, laundry soap, extra shaving cream, and an extra tooth brush. Basically, I am trying to eliminate the amount of time I have to spend in the PX or Commissary when I first arrive on post. I know I will be tired and having to make a trip to the PX after a 15 hour drive is not appealing to me.