Training Complete

Shew... the past 23 days were more of a handful than I anticipated. I was unable to make timely updates to this blog due to my very limited access to the internet and the policy that I was not to use government computers for personal useage. The training was of exceptional quality and very demanding both physically and intellectually. I was teamed up with 14 others, a chaplain, a psychiatrist, several medical students, a couple of doctors and dentists and even a biohealth engineer. Most of them were serious about being there. One, I'm not still not sure about why she wanted to be there. But we made a great team.

I was appointed the student Wing Chaplain which provided me with an opportunity to exercise some leadership during key events such as our deployment exercise. We spent 3 days in a simulated tent city out in the heat. The high point of the exercise was a 2.5 hour simulation of a mass casualty event. I coordinated the creation and operation of our chapel in the field. The most interesting point of the deployment exercise came when a terrorist tried to blow up the chapel, causing us all to dive out the back door of the tent we were using and scrambling for cover. As Wing Chaplain for the student wing I was honored to give the invocation for our graduation yesterday.

I was also surprised to find that I had been awarded the "Distinguished Graduate" award. Staying up late to study and getting 3 to 4 hours of sleep along with all the pre-training physical conditioning added up, as the award was based on a combined score related to academics and physical conditioning.

The first weekend we were there we got to experience first hand depending on MRE's for our meals. The hurricane came through causing the base to button up tight. The new MRE's (Meal ready to eat) are actually much better than the old ones.

One key event was totally unplanned. I had strained my back and been told to avoid running for a few days, so one morning I was returning to the dorm from the conditioning center rather than going for the group run. I noticed a flight mate collapsed on the ground outside the dormitory with practially no clothing on. He had over heated and returned to the dorm, realized he was in trouble, and struggled outside. With the help of several flight leaders from a different program and several students we were able to get him cooled down and call for help. Real world -- when training gets applied to something real rather than simulation.

My flight commander, an officer tasked with providing us with our primary training, was of top quality. In truth, I was very impressed with the quality of the staff, the integration of the curriculum, and the overall experience. The only real criticism is that they compressed the program to 3 weeks instead of 4 to accomodate some medical students, which I feel limits the program efficiency too much and hinders it from accomplishing what it needs to accomplish. 4 weeks is a minimal amount of time for the training that needs to be given.

I'll close by stating I'm very tired but very satisfied and eager to get to Andrews and get to work. While one of the greatest challenges I've had in life, I am glad for the experience.