In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Rabbitman Puts on a Uniform

I always wanted to be in the Army as a kid. My best memories from my youth are from my years as an Army Cadet. I made a lot of really good friends, some of whom I still have, and had some great fun climbing mountains in Alberta, being a Staff Cadet at Ipperwash and commanding my Corps (#9 London) on parade. I almost joined up after University too, but I was already married, so I tried to pursue a career in book publishing and declined the offer. Sometimes I regret it, but the 80s weren't a good time to be in the Armed Forces and I'd probably be a divorced alchoholic by now. I don't think my wife would have enjoyed the life of a Service Spouse at all.

So two years ago I started working with the Army Cadets as a Civilian Instructor (CI). My oldest friend (he was the Cadet RSM when I was the Cadet L/Col) was an officer with his son's Army Cadet Corps and they needed help.  I was out of work so it was a way to keep busy, add some experience to my resume and make a bit of extra money. Once a week I'd go to school and then drive over to my friend's house for dinner, we'd go to cadets and then I'd finally get home late at night after a long drive.

From the start he had plans to get me into uniform as a Cadet Instructor Cadre (CIC) Officer. As a CIC Officer I'd be eligable for training courses to improve my skills and as I complete courses get promoted and receive pay raises. I'd also be paid mileage for travel on cadet nights (it's an hour drive each way). As a CI I wasn't getting any mileage and a CI could only be in a paid slot if there weren't enough officers to fill them. So by joining the CIC my position would be more secure and I'd get the training needed to be a more effective leader. I'm hopeful this will help me even in my duties at the Buy Food herding the teenage grocery minions. In Feb. of 2010 I submitted my massive application. Transcripts from every academic institution I attended back to High School (man, I'd forgotten how bad my marks were, I was a total slacker in HS), five references, every address I've lived at for the last 25 years (good thing we haven't moved much) and a police background check. Essentially it is the same application as if I were applying to the Regular Force but the physical fitness requirements are less and the police check is more scrupulous since I'm working with youth.

So I submitted my weighty application file with (I thought) all the boxes checked off into the labyrinthine depths of DND Bureaucracy.

And waited...

And waited some more...

My CO poked things to try and move my file along. But with that nonsense in Afghanistan diverting the Armed Forces attention, naturally Permanent and Reserve Force applications got priority.

Finally last fall I drove to the London Recruiting Center for my interview, which went extremely well.

A couple of weeks later I drove back to London for my Medical Exam.

Then the hiccups began.

I needed a new VSS (Vulnerable Sector Screening -i.e. Police check for anyone working with youth, the elderly, mentally or physically handicapped). This time I had to get fingerprinted. The fingerprints went off to the RCMP to be processed which took a few months and cost $75.

I needed blood work for my cholesterol levels.

My GP noticed a low iron count so ordered a FOBT (fecal occult blood test) to screen for colon cancer.

I needed a visual acuity test. This cost me $125.

The MO wanted another blood test to see if my iron levels had stabilized.

Each test added another month to 6 weeks onto the process, as I had to book an appointment, get the results back, see my Dr., transmit the results back to the CFRSC (Canadian Forces Recruitment and Selection Center) and then wait for the MO (who was cycling around the various CFRSC in Southern Ontario) to return to review my file and approve things (or send it back for more tests).

Then it was more waiting for CFRSC to forward my app to the ACSU (Area Cadet Support Unit ) -I can see that my life is going to be framed by acronyms now.

I hoped to be in uniform by the end of March, then in time for our last FTX (Field Training Exercise) in May, then maybe in uniform in time for the Corps Annual Inspection in June.

I was worried the Paperwork Fairy was going to grab my file and disappear on vacation for the summer. The deadline for the Fall BOTC (Basic Officer Training Course) was looming.

We were having our year end BBQ and Camp Info night. A casual event. Burgers, hotdogs, potluck salads and desserts. The parents attend and the kids who have gotten placements for camp get their joining instructions. I'm finishing off my salad and half listening to the announcements being made by Capt Bast (our old CO, but she'll stick around as a course officer) and Lt Tadgill (the new CO).

Capt. Bast says: "CI Manto would you come here a minute?"

So there I am, in shorts, sandals and tee-shirt making my Oath to Queen and Country in front of the cadets and their parents. She hands me a ziplock baggie with my Officer Cadet rank (dress and BDU) in them. My friend who started all this shakes my hand and gives me the CIC cap badge he purchased for me 18 months ago when all this started.

We then had to go and fill in more paperwork.

Now I just need to go to the ACSU to get a uniform to put the rank on.

But I am now the lowest of the low; an Officer Cadet in the Canadian Army Reserves, Cadet Instructor Cadre.

7 comments:

  1. Congratulations!

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  2. Congratulations!! Sounds as though you really earned your cap badge. Good Luck!

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  3. I'll feel I've earned it once I complete my BOTC and get my Commission.

    But the whole process has been a trial and fraught with some emotional ups and downs!

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  4. Congratulations! CF bureaucracy is also designed as a test of dedication and endurance. (or maybe that part isn't planned). When were you in Banff, I have my Cliffhanger certificate around here somewhere from my Black Watch Cadet days, 1971 iir at Banff iir, and either '69 or '70 at Ipperwash. I was a keener then. Perry can tell you different stories about CMR and after!

    -Ross

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  5. I was at Banff in '80 and then Staff Cadet at Ipperwash in '81, '82 and '83.

    Best summers of my youth!

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  6. Congratulations James. Anyone who puts on the uniform, regardless of rank, gets my vote!

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