It was a long time ago, when I made a decision to start a career, after I had failed miserably during my fourth semester of school, as a music major.
I had returned home when the money ran out, at the age of 19. About a month later, I was on a plane, headed to Orlando, FL, to start boot camp in the US Navy. I had no idea what I was headed for.
For me, boot camp was brutal. The physical training, classroom lectures that I struggled to stay awake for, and most distressing, detoxing from the chronic alcohol abuse I had been putting myself through for the past 2 – 3 years. During my seventh week of training, I came down with mono (how??), spent 4 days in the hospital, then bedrest, and finally back with my unit, but with no physical activity, including marching and standing at ease. They let me sit down during the times when the unit had stopped marching.
I missed the rifle training, and my graduation, but left there when I was supposed to. I went to Great Lakes, IL to start my training as a Nuclear Power Machinist Mate. I had to go through three schools, but when I finished, I would move up to a third-class Petty Officer, because of my college background.
Needless to say, I made it through the first two schools, but by the time I reached the third one, I was again deeply dependent on alcohol, which kept me from completing my training. That and some behavioral problems (Me??), I lost two stripes, paid a fine and was scheduled to be discharged. That scared me to death, but did not stop the drinking at all.
If I had known then, what I know now (30 years later), I would have been trained in a field where I could continue to advance, whether I stayed in the Navy, or became a civilian.
Becoming a civilian didn’t phase me in the least, as I was now able to frequent the bars more freely, and continue drinking. The rest of the story will continue at a later time…