The Jerk – Part 2


This has been a crazy month full of ups and downs.  I have been so busy I have been unable to keep up on the blog – and so depressed that I really haven’t cared.  Sorry, just being honest.

Last week I received a great honor.  I was nominated and elected to serve as the Commander for my local veterans service organization.  It is exciting…it is terrifying!  We are not a big post – but we aren’t tiny either – and I will have a lot of work on my hands for the next year.

That joy and excitement faded pretty quickly.  Why?  Because the soon to be “former commander” is a complete horse’s ass.  It has just come to light that he has spent the last 6 months actively campaigning against me.  Everything from, “she’s too busy to do this job” to “do you really want a girl?”  I am crushed, in many ways.  How can I not be?

I loved being a soldier.  Loved it with every pore of my being.  I adored the feel of a fresh uniform, tightly ironed and thick with starch.  I took great joy in seeing my boots glitter in the sunlight because I had spent an hour the night before working up the shine.  I felt pride when I slipped a new ribbon on my rack…even if it was just an “I showed up” ribbon.  I nearly fainted putting on ‘real’ ribbons – like my ARCOM.  I relished the “snappy salute” and the feeling of belonging to something greater than myself.  The fun that I had serving others, of being a good NCO.  Then, for no reason other than sheer cruelty, someone took all of that away.

I replaced a lot of those feelings with my VSO.  I have been a member for 21 years and I have been an active member for 10 years.  When I came to this post, it was a post in the final throes of death.  There were 8 of us sitting around a table trying to decide what to do and how to do it with just a handful of bodies.  We had some great and dedicated people who built it back up from scratch – raised it from the dead – and I am proud to have been part of that effort.  Everything that I can no longer give to the Army, I give to my VSO.

Now this.  Now the very thing that destroyed my Army career is back – and it is back with a vengence.  My heart is broken and I am scared to death.  What if I lose this, too?  How will I live?  What will I do?  These are my friends, these are the few men in my life that I trust, these are the few veterans in my life that I trust.

Thanks to Brigid, and a few other close friends, I am trying to remind myself that if Jerk II had been any kind of commander, he would have been nominated again.  He wasn’t.  No one spoke on his behalf.  It was a smaller than normal meeting, which was very strange.  However, I was elected unanimously by 20 members.  Many of those members have told me what Jerk II has been up to.  That has to be a good sign.

Of course, these members don’t know.  They don’t know about sexual trauma, harrassment, the destruction of a life and a career.  They don’t know that these things occurred because I have breasts.  They don’t know about the nightmares and the panic attacks.  They don’t know that sometimes even their silly little jokes makes me want to crawl out of my skin.  Even those that I trust with my life and my sanity – don’t know what I live with.

Why is power so important to some people?  Why is it that in the previous year’s the commander’s mission for the VSO has been WE – but this year, with this Jerk II, it has been the ME – as in HE.  As his second in command, I have not been allowed to do any suggestions for membership, including two events.  I have not been invited to any meetings of the leadership.  I have not been allowed to speak at any member meetings.  (not unless I demanded for a specific reason.)  I have been shut out – cut off.  I did much more for commander’s as a peon than I have as this man’s second in command.

I am certainly not so amazing that he would have any reason to fear me.  I’m sort of a goof-ball, to be honest.  I make mistakes.  I sometimes overcompensate for being a female.  (I am the only active female in my VSO.)  I pick on them and tease them.  Why does this man fear me so much that making me a non-person is his most important goal in life?  Is it fear?  Somebody tell me.

I thought about quitting.  But I have never been a quitter – and Brigid threatened my life – so I either serve or die.  I just hope that this year isn’t the end of the one piece of the military that I still have left.  I don’t think my sanity will remain in tact if this turns out as badly as I fear it might.

Joan

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