YDU: What it's Like to be a Individual Augmentee (IA)?

Individual Augmentee: A Sailor who is given orders to embed with an Army unit in Iraq or Afghanistan due to their specific skill-set; typically referred to as being in the "Narmy."

We volunteered for an IA--Individual Augmentee assignment. The Army unit to which my husband was assigned took exceptional care of him, but we were swiftly discarded by his Navy command.  It led to some weird conversations during the deployment:

Them:  Did you look into resources during this deployment? Me:  Yes actually, I did. Nothing. There were no services in place for IA deployments. Oh wait, there was one phone call. Them: Ring. Ring.“Hi, I’m from _____ and I was calling to see if you needed anything. Oh wait, your husband will be home in a few weeks. I’m sure that you don’t need anything, right? Me:  “Um…” Them: “Ok, great! Bye.”
The IA assignment was even weirder once my husband got home.  We had a honeymoon phase that included a speedy exit from the old command, a move across the country, and a new sea duty billet--complete with more deployments.

Then things got a little weirder.   It was a little weird to reintegrate with other sailors.  It was a little weird to have to remember to replace the Army HOOAH with the Navy HOOYAH.  It was a little weird to have to pretend to be a “typical” sailor and to pretend that the IA experience hasn’t forever changed your family. It was weird to be outsiders.  Which led to more weird conversations:

Them: Did you look into resources during this reintegration? Me:  Yes, actually, I did. Nothing. Them:  “Has your husband been diagnosed with PTSD?” Me: “No.” Them: “Well, he would have to see a doctor and be assessed before we could extend any of our services to your family.” Me: “What does PTSD have to do with anything? We just wanted some basic post-deployment help.” Them: “How long has he been back? If he’s been back longer than 6 months we don’t offer any services unless the service member has been diagnosed with PTSD. Either way we would have to notify his command that he is receiving services.” Me: “What about his job? He’s worried about losing his job.” Them: “Is he is a part of _____, _____, or _____?” Me: “Yes.” Them: “He might be reassigned or medically discharged because he could lose his clearance. We would have to notify his command. What did you say your name was?” Me: Dial tone.
So here we are back in the real Navy.  The SITREP?  Feeling more welcome on an Army post than a Navy base.  Sleeping problems.  Basic communication issues.  Anger. Isolation.  An overall lack of support. And the deep suspicion that we are not alone in this post-IA world, are we?


Why Didn’t You Tell Me is a weekly feature that gives our readers a space to tell their own story.  If you have a story for us, please submit using the contact button above.

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