By Sgt. 1st Class Damian Steptore, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. PAOOctober 8, 2008
COB ADDER, Iraq -The biggest topic people have asked me about this month has been Environmental Morale Leave. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I've never really known exactly what the acronym stands for.
At first I thought it stood for emergency leave, but then what would the 'M' represent' Then someone explained to me what EML meant, making me wonder, "What does the environment have to do with taking a break and going on a vacation'"
But anyhow, I've listened to Soldiers from all over the brigade discuss the ideal time to take EML and their intended destinations. Some are saying their initially requested date was changed based on the unit's allotted slots and the percentage of Soldiers each unit is required to send per month.
"We're doing all we can to accommodate our Soldiers," said 1st Sgt. Peter Rocha, first sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "But some people will just not be happy about where their date falls."
However, regardless of when you get to take leave, you are guaranteed approximately two weeks of (leave me alone time.)
"I just hung out and visited with family and friends," said Pfc. Walton Rudy, of Company A., 2nd Squadron, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. "Oh...and I ate out a lot."
See, that's what I plan to do...just want to hang out with family and relax. And speaking of family, there's one 27th Brigade Support Battalion Soldier who decided to start his family while on EML.
"It was in the plans for a long time," said Pfc. Thomas Greene, referring to his marriage to Danielle Green during his EML. "I'm really happy and can't wait to get back home to my new wife."
Green took the 'morale' in EML to whole new level, but you might be surprised at some of the vacations many Long Knife Soldiers are planning.
I spoke to one female officer, whom I'm sure would want to remain anonymous, that plans to travel throughout Europe for 14 days.
That sounds exhausting to me, but here's what Warrant Officer Grant Weston had to say, "I don't even plan to go on EML, said the 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Personnel Technician. "I think I'll save my leave days and my money and stay here; it's only one year."
I guess this is what makes us unique individuals because I couldn't find two people who had the same opinion about the topic.
I can't wait to hear more about the EML destinations throughout the Long Knife deployment.