The Easy Things Are Always Hard…

…and the hard things are always easy. That’s an old Army saying I made up a long time ago to describe the notion that highly complex stuff that requires intricate planning and preparation almost always goes off without a hitch, while simple stuff – such as submitting a standard form, for example – are infinitely difficult.

As we all know by now, I’m now under a month remaining before I leave to begin my adventure in Afghanistan. Most of that remaining time I plan on taking off. Or taking vacation, if you want. We call it taking leave. I earn 2.5 days of leave per month for 30 per year – paid days, I’d add. Anyway, the idea is to relax before I have to get busy continuously for a year and provide my own stimulus to the economy via Molson/Coors Brewing Company. I’m hoping to earn a parking spot with my name on it.

Anyway, in order to take leave, you must of course engage in administrivia, objectified by the DA Form 31 – Request and Authority for Leave (the DA stands for Department of the Army). This is a simple form that you fill in your name, address, and some other stuff and the dates you want leave. Simple right? No, fucking wrong. One item you have to fill in is the number of days of leave you have credited to you. To find this, you pull up your LES (Leave and Earnings Statement) from the prior month, and it’s in a little box on it. So in order to prove I’m not defrauding the government, I have to attach the LES to my DA 31. Following so far? Of course you aren’t – I was confused too and I do this for a living.

So I fill out, digitally sign (yeah) the DA 31, and send both forms to the Admin Lady in our office. She fires back that in order to get the Headquarters to accept my form, I will have to do a vehicle safety inspection and a trip risk assessment. It doesn’t matter that I probably won’t go anywhere, I have to do one. Last month, I had to do motorcycle safety training and prove it by submitting a certificate of completion. I don’t own a motorcycle, by the way. This is what I’m up against.

The inspection is just a print-out, which I do and check off all the shit – tires, windows, mirrors, lights, brakes – check! – sign and date. Now, the trip planner and risk assessment is another matter. I enter the URL and click ‘go.’  I try to log into the site, it rejects my username and login three times. I recall a trick and log into another Army site I know will take my shit, and retry the risk assessment and get in. Small victory.

After entering a military email which was rejected by the system, and going through all the steps at this site again, I finally get a piece of paper to prove my trip – which I may or may not ever make – will be a safe one. Now, some E4 clerk at Headquarters will see my four pieces of paper and know I’m ready to take leave.

Keep in mind, this is all to justify me taking the leave I’ve already earned. People wonder why I rant and why I drink.


40 Responses to “The Easy Things Are Always Hard…”

  1. Reblogged this on BULLETFAME.

  2. Wow. This is confusing. I feel like they want you to predict the future here… am I far off base with that one? If you can predict the future, you are in the wrong like of work.

    **Last month, I had to do motorcycle safety training and prove it by submitting a certificate of completion. I don’t own a motorcycle, by the way.** <~ that is freaking funny in a sad, head shaking way. Well, at least you got it out of the way for the future.

  3. You should go buy yourself a nice Harley-Davidson to celebrate the training now under your belt!

  4. whiteladyinthehood Says:

    I hope you have a very nice and relaxing leave (vacation).
    I saw a commercial for the new Silver Bullet aluminum pint – it was like a rocket blasting through the air…thought about you and grinned. Hope you get your parking space.

  5. It’s called ‘job justification’ for all the government employees/paper pushers.

  6. Organization is at the heart of disorganization.

  7. EllieAnn Says:

    bloody hell! You had to take a motorcycle safety test and you don’t have a motorcycle?! That’s completely nuts! Did they think you might suddenly join a motorcycle gang or something on your leave?

  8. Please, drink up. That exhausted me just reading it! How long will you be gone for?

    • One year starting in late April.

      • shit…I don’t like that. Do you have barracks direct line? We need to have a talk! I have been watching that show Coming Home on lifetime about soldiers surprising their families and I can’t imagine what it’s like. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family during this next year…

        I do have one rule for you…you have to stay safe! And hopefully you will be able to keep blogging a little. I don’t know what I will do without your posts making me laugh each day.

        Damn- that got sad. Sorry!

        • You’re cool, Jamie. I plan on coming home with the same number of parts and orifices I leave with… at this level I’m destined for desk jockeying. Yee haw!

  9. I work for a large entertainment corporation. They decided to simplify such processes as you described above by putting everything on an interweb web site, and they making all the links impossible to find.

    Such is the way of the world.

  10. It’s all becoming clearer…..the ranting and drinking….about to join you in that – except after reading this my brain hurts too bad! AAARRRRGGGHHH!

  11. Betting whoever designed the system didn’t wait for their leave to start drinking.
    Enjoy your break!

  12. Ah, the lean, green, Army Admin machine… This sounds like a headache and half. Drink a beer for me!

  13. Good ol’ Army bureaucracy. I remember it well from my days overseas. “This is a memo acknowledging receipt of the memo in regards to last week’s memo.” Drink up, my friend…you’ll need it.

  14. Keep in mind, this is all to justify me taking the leave I’ve already earned. People wonder why I rant and why I drink.

    Paperwork is created by folks who need to justify their existence.

    Enjoy your leave! With pay! And beer . . . with bacon. 😀

  15. I would agree that some things that should be simple are complicated like some one decided it was too easy so they had to complicate it. Now someone has a real job.

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