Cuts and Burns


Hello, Friends,

I find it annoying to explain “culture” to certain people.  I find it even more annoying that some Military personnel don’t understand that “culture” – the way people are perceived and the stereotypes that we bring to our jobs can cause so much trouble.

You know – it is one thing to be raped.  It is one thing to be shoved against a wall in a closet for 6 months.  It is one thing to be beaten.  Those are the BIG things that we like to focus on.  Then there are the little things – the one thousand burns that add up to one HUGE deal.  It is like getting a cut versus getting a burn.  Cuts are local – they leave a nasty scar – but you can treat them pretty easily.  Burns, on the other hand, tend to cover a larger surface area.  They take a long time to heal and they have a tendancy to get infected.  They aren’t even easy to treat – like a simple cut – because they can’t be stitched and fixed.  They hurt for a very long time – they can be like torture.  In fact, the “nerves” there are never quite right again – and you can feel the pain forever.

I think the burns have bothered me more than the cuts – in some ways.  Maybe, because of the “culture”, I expected to get cut – especially since I had been sliced before.  It was the burns that caused problems everyday.

I drank water from a water buffalo that hadn’t been properly treated – in fact, a lot of us females drank from that buffalo.  We all got really sick!  Vomitting, Diahrrhea, Nausea and finally – a few of us went down.  The doctor diagnosed us with “gastroenteritis” – this is a nice way of saying – something you ate made you puke and shit everything you have eaten since Christmas dinner 1992!  When the unit filed the paperwork – they filed it that we had all sustained “heat injuries.”  So – what is the big deal?  Well, gastroenteritis you, as the soldier, cannot prevent.  A Heat Injury – that is your fault!  Of course, they didn’t even start seriously considering a contaminant until a couple of the men got sick drinking from that same WB.  Those line of duties were listed as gastroenteritis – because the men are too good of soldiers to allow themselves to get a “heat injury.”

I had a boss who used to joke, “Make the coffee – and it is not because you are a female – it is because I outrank you!”  He was truly kidding – because he would fill up that empty coffee pot in a heartbeat.  If I was swamped or stuck on the phone, he would even fill up my coffee cup for me…and I would do the same for him.  He also used to joke  – “Go clean the female latrine, and it is not because you are a female….NO, wait – it IS because you are a female – go clean your own bathroom.”  It was all in fun. 

The burn was that the other members of the unit would watch us work together and liked to accuse me of getting my job on my knees.  Just because we were friends and I had a good position in the unit – I must have fucked my way into it.  All  because I had an upstanding and honorable NCO that I worked for and I really liked working for him.

Jerk never scheduled me for radio watch – and I felt bad because I felt that I should be helping with the night shift.  I liked the other squad leader I worked with – we made a pretty good team – even though he was Jerk’s favorite.  (I outranked him but was assigned to the 2nd squad leader position behind him in “position” because he was a male – at least – that is what Jerk told me.)  Jerk finally decided that I should do some radio watch – so I showed up for my shift 15 min early.  Jerk sent me out to clean the vehicle, “Yes, Sergeant.”  What a pig pen!  Food wrapped and garbage everywhere – 1/2 eaten MRE’s…it was disgusting!!  I got it all cleaned and reorganized.  “Now what Sergeant?”  Make the coffee.  “Yes, Sergeant.”  I made the coffee and filled the water can to make sure that I could make another pot later on.  “Now what, Sergeant?”

Go back to your tent – I am done with you. 

Done with me?  I had only been on duty for 30 minutes!!!  It was a four hour shift!

I just put you on duty to clean the vehicle and make the coffee.  I don’t need you to do anything else.

All he wanted was a housekeeper and a cook.  Never mind the fact that I could work a radio like nobody’s business!  I had cross-trained commo on active duty and I could run radios and commo wire and could keep up with multiple transmissions at one time.  I could load up radios without the manual and I was FAST.  But all he wanted was a pot of coffee.  For those who have missed it – the is the same ass that liked to tell me that, “You’d be a good NCO – if you had a penis.”

The Port-O-Latrines that are 1 1/2 from the base camp.

Gloves that have to be special orders because, “You have small hands and that is a pain in the ass!”

Putting 10 men into a double squad tent – but cramming 9 women into a single one because, “the Army says you have to have separate quarters.” 

Carrying extra “female products” in your gear instead in the Squad Box with the guy’s Gold Bond because they are too freaked out to see a panty liner!  (Someone has to make sure that ALL of the troops are taken care of…even the females.)

I could go on forever.  It all adds up.  The burns that leave the nerves sensitive.  You do everything you can to move on and you do, you live, you love and you lead a “normal” life.  Until someone asks you to explain it – and to them – it makes no sense.  So you feel “wrong” again.  You know you aren’t wrong…but it feels that way.

Peace and Love!

Joan

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