The Army requires a lot of gear. As a statement, this makes plenty of sense. Of course soldiers need a lot of stuff to keep themselves safe, prepared, and rested even in the harshest of conditions. Who wouldn't? But in practice, I had absolutely zero idea of how much stuff was actually required. Including the items that they never seem to use.
We are talking tote boxes full. Clothes, tent accessories, safety equipment – you name it! This stuff has taken over part of my house, and yet I'm not even sure 95% of it has ever been used.
When we PCS, (Permanent change of station – as in leaving for good.) I thought the amount of gear might lessen, which it did by maybe a half box. Which meant we moved with 10+ plastic totes (the big size) of Army crap. All that have been given to my husband for future use.
And I get it, it was all assigned to him. It's his to keep track of so, when Uncle Sam calls and says, "Hey, we need you to bring in that outdated ultra specific part to a lantern that we issued you 10 years ago," he can do it. Somehow even if these items still aren't being used, they're to be kept track of so they can be recalled at any given second.
Ultimately, it's not up to the soldier as to how much stuff they're assigned. If it were, they'd have boxes less to haul around. Far fewer containers to search through every time they were asked to have something inspected. They don't like it, either. That's what I tell myself after years of looking at so much nonsense, and equal time in not seeing it used.
I've also seen many a garage sale of retired soldiers who have tables of gear for sale. Despite some pretty reasonable prices, very few items sell – because everyone else has just as much stuff they are waiting to sell once they get out, too. Because if you don't have it when the Army says you should, you're responsible for its fees.
(Basically, it's a really unorganized way to file.)
Sure, there's the rogue person who wants to get their hands on an outdated pattern, or the lucky Joe who finds the exact piece they need. But for the most part, it's all a waste.
Hopefully, these items served a noble purpose in their prime, because now, we're just sad about it wasting away.
Prep your shelves, local thrift shops: in this scenario, you're about to get a spacious donation.
Where it Goes
As somewhat of a neat freak, I'm thankful that my husband keeps his gear toted away. Instead of thrown into a room and messy (I've seen nightmares in friends' homes that took over their entire guest rooms), it's stacked in the attic. (I tell myself it's an organized setting, but in reality, I simply stay away.) Sure he wakes me up at ungodly hours every so often to ask which box something is in, as if I were the one to have organized it, but I'll still take the trade off.
Attic storage has been our best friend. We've also lived in locations where totes lined an entire garage wall, or were stacked up in an extra closet. If we had a basement, it would live there, and so on. What the Army doesn't realize when they're handing all of this out (or maybe they do and just don't care), is that, even a few years in, you're needing a small storage unit to hold the goods. Yet they keep handing it out all the same.
One day, he will be done; it will be us hosting that garage sale with tables full of expired camo patterns. And to each young soldier who nears, I'll give my best sales speech, and try to prove those very important relics can be theirs.