By: Lt Col Jesse Arnstein, USAF
Following my past observations of a more serious nature, this passage describes the typical lifestyle at my deployed location, Post X (I can’t use the true name due to security concerns).
I’m reliving my childhood here at Post X. Yes, being a service member at Post X is very similar to an adolescent’s lifestyle. Military members are sometimes called “GIs,” short for “Government Issue,” because all their possessions were stamped with those words. GI is an apt description as the military provides everything for us just as a parent would.
First, “parents” take care of nearly all household duties:
• Laundry service is provided.
• All meal cooking, preparation, and cleanup is performed by an outstanding contracted crew.
• Other than our 50-square-foot rooms, we don’t do any cleaning.
• Clothes (uniforms) are provided.
• Yardwork? Ain’t no grass here…
Second, you’re surrounded by “brothers and sisters”:
• We work, play, eat, bathe, and socialize together with peers all day.
• Each person has their own small bedroom in the same house.
• There are no spouses, so everyone feels single to a large extent.
Third, we follow all the usual rules that parents would set:
• Most of us go to sleep early (i.e. by 9:30 pm), and wake up early (usually by 5:30 am).
• We wear the clothes we are told to wear.
• Commanders (i.e. parental authority) have total say in what we do for work and general lifestyle.
Fourth, money is almost irrelevant:
• There are not many places to spend money.
• There’s not much we need to buy anyhow.
• The finance office only dispenses a maximum of $300 cash per month.
• No one has any fancy possessions.
Fifth, life is simple:
• Our small Post X world is less than one square mile.
• We usually follow the same routine day after day.
• We walk everywhere on post.
Sixth, alcohol is prohibited.
Lastly, we “play” with the same types of things we did when we were children: guns, trucks, helicopters, dirt, and gymnasium sports. (By the way, the best part of living in a time zone 8.5 hours ahead of East Coast time is watching the end of the basketball, hockey, and baseball games at 7:00 in the morning while I’m at the gym!).
Just about the only difference is that now I’m able to violate a cardinal childhood restriction, fulfilling the youthful dream of eating as much sugar cereal as I want! Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Cocoa Puffs galore!
Originally published in the 2023 Purim issue of The Jewish American Warrior.