|Ft. Ord - 1966|
We lived in large rooms with bunk beds stacked quite close. Part of the training involved obsessive concerns about cleanliness, floor polishing and sweeping. That is not unexpected, but I was surprised that we were ordered to keep the large windows open all night. It seemed, I arrived in the midst of a meningitis outbreak.
I left Ft. Ord around Christmas time to go to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas for training as a combat medic In fact, it was a great First Aid Course. If you ignore their emphasis on sucking chest wounds and the construction of field morgues, it was pretty useful.
At Ft. Sam, I spent much of my free time trying to get a specialty assignment into mental health. It was my first big foray into the world of self advocacy in a complex bureaucracy. Here I got critical life lessons that I have used forever. Some of the things I learned: "Never act too smart." "Learn to act confused and helpless as the situation may require." "You can often change your own fate."
Using these ideas , I was pulled out of Combat Medic School and sent to Letterman General Hospital to be a social worker in a psychiatric unit. From the specter of future combat to two years