Arriving at My First Duty Station
Starting the adventure!It has been a while since I have blogged, and I apologize for that! You know how life gets away from you, especially with shift work -- those 12 hour blocks seem to make the weeks disappear even faster, and I'm not sure why that is. Anyway, enough of my excuses.
I arrived at my first duty station in June. I decided I'd wait until after duty hours to sign in so that I could just wear civilian clothing -- I knew I'd be hot and tired from my 10-hour drive, and didn't want to try to find a place to change into my uniform once I arrived.
Tip: make sure you can actually go in the gate that your GPS directs you to enter. My lovely Google navigation chick, who I fondly call "Madge" (because she just sounds like her name would be Madge) directed me to a gate through which I was not supposed to enter because I didn't have an installation decal. Ft. Sam has done away with decals, so it wasn't an issue (and was not issued!) at Ft. Sam, but apparently they did me a huge favor by letting me in and not making me drive around the whole outside of the post in an unfamiliar place to get to the main gate. (I should have known to check first ... back in March, Madge also directed me to a gate at Ft. Sam that had been completely closed down for years!)
I located the reception center and signed in. Everyone was very nice to me, and I was clearly clueless. I was told where to report in the morning, and I then went off to find Army lodging.
The Army lodging turned out to not be too bad. The Army will reimburse you for up to 10 nights of lodging, so it is very important to keep copies of the bill, and you will ultimately need the piece of paper that shows you have a zero balance. Once you get that, you can go to Finance and apply for TLE -- temporary lodging expenses. There is information on TLE here: http://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/faqtle.cfm. Very important to note: if you try to make a reservation in Army lodging and there are no vacancies, you can get reimbursed for a hotel off-post; however, you must first get a statement of non-availability from Army lodging. The Army lodging folks will know how get this document for you. Without that, you cannot be reimbursed for staying off-post.
I spent the next week doing my in-processing for the post. For my reception and inprocessing, they grouped officers in with the "seniors" -- the E-5s and above -- and didn't expect us to sit through all the lectures and whatnot from the various post entities and facilities. We were given a round-robin checksheet and we just ran around and visited all the required places to get signatures (housing, ID card section, transportation, the post museum, etc.). Some places didn't require more than a "hello, please sign here." For the post museum, there was a scavenger hunt for information and a test on that information that I had to complete (but it was interesting to me, because I'm a dork like that). Visiting the Central Issue Facility (CIF) was fun -- I ended up with a shopping cart FULL of gear! Amazing. Yes, they actually have shopping carts. Good thing, too! It's a lot of stuff. It is currently taking up one of our hall closets.
Also during this time I started house-hunting. There is a website for military called the Automated Housing Referral Network -- http://www.ahrn.com/. It is fabulous! I found our house (rental) using the AHRN website. I highly recommend it, because it saves you the step of having to check with housing to approve your rental -- the houses on the site are already good to go.
When you arrive at a new duty station, you are apparently supposed to be granted 10 days of permissive TDY for househunting. The process to obtain this TDY was a little confusing. My Clinical Nurse Officer in Charge (CNOIC, formerly known as the Head Nurse) wasn't sure how to make it happen because it was done a little differently when she had arrived some months earlier. I was released from the reception center but didn't really belong to the hospital (MEDDAC) yet, so I was in limbo. We weren't sure who was going to sign my DA 31 (leave form), or if I had to be signed out onto permissive TDY by the housing office (that was one version we heard). We finally determined that we'd have my DA 31 signed by the medical company commander and then approved by the hospital commander. That worked, and I got my 10 days of permissive TDY. I had to next in-process to the hospital before I could even report for my first shift in the ER the first week of July. I'd been away from the bedside since the beginning of March, and it was starting to drive me nuts.
Another word of caution: set up your household goods shipment as early as you can, especially if you are moving in the summer (the busiest time, apparently). Also ensure that the moving company has the packout dates correct. I had used the move.mil website to set up our move. We were set for the movers to arrive on June 13 (which I remembered very specifically because it's my birthday). However, it turns out they had us scheduled for June 8, which was not going to work with my husband's schedule or our preparation! The moving guy said no big deal, we can probably just get you on the 13th because you don't have much stuff. Great. So then I get another phone call: because we DENIED our movers to come pack us out, we were being rescheduled to July 5. Not an ideal situation, but fine. I figured I would at least have a house for our stuff to land in by that point. Good, good.
The packout went fine. Our goods were scheduled to be delivered the morning of July 13. The morning arrives, no truck. The morning continues, no truck. The afternoon arrives, no truck. I called the moving company several times and got passed from one person to the next, when finally someone had the guts to tell me that our driver quit and they're not sure where our stuff is. Really? Nightmare. I had taken the night off from the ER to receive our good that never showed up. Not my best day, to be sure. So the next morning, while I'm sleeping in preparation for the night shift, the phone rings ... it's a driver in a truck looking for my house, and he has our stuff. I knew I was going to end up exhausted for my night shift, but I said, "Sure, we're home to receive our things." Nice guys, knew they were walking into a situation with a less-than-happy customer and they were efficient and friendly. I told them I didn't blame them, not their fault. I was just glad to see our things!
So, lesson learned: I will probably consider a DITY move (do-it-yourself, you get reimbursed) for the next duty station, as long as it's not overseas.
About Pixie.RN, BSN, RN, EMT-P
LunahRN: a short green-eyed redhead, very tattooed, a volunteer Paramedic, ER RN, new-ish 1LT/66HM5. Avid reader, addicted to good shoes, allnurses, and her smartphone.
Pixie.RN has 'NREMT-P: 11, RN: 6' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'ED/Trauma, 66HM5 (Army)'. From 'everywhere and nowhere - global nomad'; 42 Years Old; Joined Aug '05; Posts: 12,620; Likes: 7,225.1Nov 16, '11 by Pixie.RN, BSN, RN, EMT-P Senior ModeratorYeah, I ramble a bit. It's interesting ... I know how to be an ER nurse, but I still have much to learn about being Army! I love my medics for that, they are teaching me so much every shift. They don't mind that I pick their brains about everything Army-related, and they don't make fun of me for not knowing things, either. I am much more comfortable than I was in the marriage of Army + ER nursing, but I still have a long way to go. I've learned that one thing still holds true: give respect, get respect.0Nov 25, '11 by CCZ3LunahRN,
Have been reading your posts on here for some time on my EC journey. I don't want to hijack your thread, but have a couple a questions r/t Army life that I know you would be able to answer and can't figure out how to PM you. If you would be willing (and have time) please let me know.
Thanks for all the info and experiences you have shared, very inspirational.
Ken0Nov 25, '11 by Pixie.RN, BSN, RN, EMT-P Senior ModeratorNo worries, Ken. Are the questions related to what you posted in the Gov/Mil forum? If that's the case, I really can't answer those ... I have no experience as an enlisted person, or a reservist.
You'll be able to use the PM system when you have 15 posts.0Nov 26, '11 by CCZ3Totally understand. I guess my question for you was in your interaction with your 68W's in your unit. Are they basically ED techs that do the "dirty" work? I have heard that the skills they perform can vary depending on their experience and supervisors evaluation of them. In my current flight job as a flight medic my scope of practice mirrors my RN partner in all aspects except hanging insulin drips. Though of course my RN partner has more critical care exp. and me the field exp. like most programs. This is a path I have considered for awhile and just want to make sure I don't take a step backward in furthering my career and experiences. Bad timeing for me to try to get a commision into the nurse corps w/o exp. or BSN. But my thought process is to get into the reserves now (due to my age ) and hope for opportunities to open up in the future while getting my BSN or MSN paid for through TA. Do you think it would be difficult (or beneficial) for a new grad RN to work as a 68W looking at it from your perspective as a new Army nurse. Granted it would be in the reserves but I am sure I would be active for a deployment sometime in the next 4 years. Thanks again for all your insight, you have helped so many EC grads and Army nurse wannabe's like me.0Nov 26, '11 by Pixie.RN, BSN, RN, EMT-P Senior ModeratorQuote from CCZ3I guess it depends on where you are working as a 68W. The educational foundation for the 68W is EMT-B, and you are obviously beyond that. In the ED, they are techs with a slightly expanded scope -- they can suture and give IM injections, for example. However, in our ED their scope has been creeping back to be less than what is written, and our unit practice council is seeking to ensure that they operate to the fullest. Not sure why that is happening, but it probably has to do with people coming and going, various levels of competency, etc.Totally understand. I guess my question for you was in your interaction with your 68W's in your unit. Are they basically ED techs that do the "dirty" work? I have heard that the skills they perform can vary depending on their experience and supervisors evaluation of them. In my current flight job as a flight medic my scope of practice mirrors my RN partner in all aspects except hanging insulin drips. Though of course my RN partner has more critical care exp. and me the field exp. like most programs. This is a path I have considered for awhile and just want to make sure I don't take a step backward in furthering my career and experiences. Bad timeing for me to try to get a commision into the nurse corps w/o exp. or BSN. But my thought process is to get into the reserves now (due to my age ) and hope for opportunities to open up in the future while getting my BSN or MSN paid for through TA. Do you think it would be difficult (or beneficial) for a new grad RN to work as a 68W looking at it from your perspective as a new Army nurse. Granted it would be in the reserves but I am sure I would be active for a deployment sometime in the next 4 years. Thanks again for all your insight, you have helped so many EC grads and Army nurse wannabe's like me.
For the medics who are part of a line unit and deploy, the scope is much larger. They are literally saving lives, they are "it" -- the doc, the medic, everything rolled into one. I'm not sure how it would be if you're deployed with a reserve CSH -- it seems to me that you might end up in the EMT, the CSH's version of the ER, and you could just be more tech-ish.
I don't know how beneficial any of that would be to a nursing career; I would think that your current experience would be more beneficial! But I see where you're going, and that your ultimate goal is to be back in the service as an RN. Hmmm. Maybe some other 68W types will weigh in on your post in the gov/mil forum. My exposure to 68Ws is in an Army ED, where they are definitely used as techs. I adore my medics, they are fabulous, and I remind them of that at every opportunity. They are often wanting to go back to a line unit from the ED, though.