Going Before The Board

~ Clyde Collins ~

    Sp4 Donald Duty, inspiration specialist, Poetics Lab, waited with a small group of potential leaders for his turn to go before the Promotion Board.

     His heart had climbed up into his head and was ca-booming like a rapidly firing artillery piece.  As a matter of fact it was beating so loudly between his ears that he could not hear what the others were saying about their own nervousness ~ and the entire left side of Duty's body began to twitch with each hearty ca-boom.

     The others could not help but notice this ~ and watching Duty's twitch they grew silent as a polar landscape ~ until one of them broke the ice, "What's wrong with him?"

     Another potential leader in the small group of soldiers said, "Duty, you okay?"

     But Duty could not hear ~ and that included most of the briefing they all received a moment later.

     Then it was his turn.

     Somebody pushed the catatonic inspiration specialist forward.  His dizzy head bounced three or four times against the closed door of the inner chamber.  From within a grainy voice said, "Come in."

     Duty automatically opened the door and entered.  Standing at attention in front of the five-member Promotion Board he said, "Specialist, Specialist, uh, Specialist I-Don't-Know reporting to the President of the Board."

     He had actually forgotten his own name!

     He was told to be seated.  Duty blinked and sat down.  Preliminaries were taken care of ~ and then came the questions.  The only reply that Duty could make to each question was, "I don't know, Sergeant," until finally he could not even talk.

     And when he was dismissed he could not move.

     That's right, he just sat there as all immediate possibilities of his being put on the E-5 promotion list ~ took flight and thoroughly disappeared.  The shame and humiliation of not having prepared adequately for his board appearance ~ had ambushed him.  The board members stared at him, anticipating his next move.

     Alas, a tear stumbled down his cheek as if it were a defeated ball-player unable to find the bus back home.

     Ninety days hence Duty will be able to go before the board again.  He had better get his act together if he wants a promotion ~ and it could be even a tougher challenge come November when stricter requirements for promotion to E-5 (and E-6) are expected to go into effect.  The new requirements will be outlined to soldiers in September, according to a front page article in the May 23 issue of the Army Times.

     Until then Duty can compete for Soldier of the Month as many times as SSgt. Rocky Ride, his NCOIC, would like him to unless Duty wins it.  Thusly Duty will be able to practice remembering his name while under the duress of being scrutinized by critical eyes in a board type situation.  He can also learn via this opportunity to wear his Class A uniform correctly (and thus proudly).  He will also be motivated to study various important subjects that a soldier ought to know but does not get acquainted with in the everyday working situations here at Tripler.

     In his pursuit of soldierly knowledge he can visit the Tripler Education Center (Building 102).  There he will find the MOS Library.  In this library Duty can sign up for Army correspondence courses, check out Army field manuals, even view video tapes on important topics like map reading.  By the way, a Basic Non-Commissioned Officers Course could very well possibly be a correspondence course for which he would want to send away.

     In order to familiarize himself with the correct answers to those questions asked by the Promotion Board concerning current events, various Army services and who is who in his Chain of Command, what can Duty do?  He can read articles in the daily paper that have an impact on the Army.  He can read the Army Times, Soldiers Magazine, the Caducean and the two post newspapers from our neighbors Fort Shafter and Schofield Barracks.  He can even study the Military Phone Directory for Hawaii ~ yes, it's got more in it than just phone numbers.

     Having an instructor in a classroom situation can motivate Duty's studies even further via college and Army orientated classes at Tripler's, Fort Shafter's and Schofield Barracks' Education Centers.

     Duty can lean on his NCO to sign him up for the Primary Leadership Course.  Graduation from this is a major influence when it comes to getting the ol' E-5 rank.

     A soldier's first sergeant will set up a counseling session with that soldier if he fails the promotion board ~ to assist him in figuring out what his weak points are.  Duty can look forward to this also.

     Of course, several of these active pursuits to become a truly qualified soldier leads to more promotion points ~ which are imperative.

     Back at the Poetics Lab, after Duty's catastrophic appearance before the board, his NCO, Ride, gently placed a Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks ~ Skill Level 1 ~ on the still somewhat shaky specialist 4's desk.  "You can begin preparing for your next moment of glory before the board by learning what's inside this ~ instead of just looking at the cover."  Ride added, "I'll drill you every day on it," for the staff sergeant had his responsibilities too.

     "Shucks, Sarge," moaned Duty.  "I'm going to ETS in 15 months.  I don't have to be a Spec-5 when I leave the Army."

     "How do you know you won't change your mind later and re-enlist?" said Ride.

     "Besides," added Whip Doublemint, the civilian supervisor of the Poetics Lab, on his way to the trash can with a tray full of rejected word specimens in his hand, "You should be all you can be no matter what situation you're in.  What you learn in the Army can help you later ~ even as a civilian.  You have a responsibility to yourself and to your country to be..."

     Duty, the target of another one of the supervisor's lectures, cringed.


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