When folks think about the military and what makes it tough, their minds invariably leap to the rigors of physical combat. That is certainly not an inaccurate characterization these last 8 years or so. Nonetheless, there are a great many days that will require you to do things that are rigorous in other ways. I just concluded an administrative separation board. After hours of testimony, we determined that the soldier in question should ultimately be separated from the US Army. It's an easy decision to make when one looks at the facts, neatly arrayed as they are in a well-prepared board packet. It's easy to say that he should be tossed out in light of his poor performance and repeated misconduct. You are doing what is right for the command, the unit, the Army, and the Nation. It's all easy until you hear his side of things, and you see that the Army is just a small part of a life that is not going as anyone would plan. Then, it's easy to see that he's a man facing an awful lot of tough circumstances--and though many of those troubles are his fault, they are no less difficult to bear. It's easy until he admits that he "stepped in the ****" and swears that he'll make it all right if he just gets another chance. It's easy until all of that happens, because once it does you see the totality of the human being behind the rank and the uniform and the stack of counseling packets. It is a cold and lonely moment when you tell a man that his time in the U.S. Army is done--to shake his hand, bid him good luck, and end a career with the stroke of a cheap pen. Often, there is little solace in doing what is ultimately right. I'm sure this thread will soon fall to the bottom, to be replaced with endless and innumerable threads about CFA scores and waivers and LOAs and the like. I hope, though, that each candidate thinks about this while they rattle off the textbook reasons for seeking a nomination to their interviewer. Officership isn't always about the unforgiving minute when you first tangibly realize that bullets really do travel in both directions. In fact, it rarely is about that at all. Mostly it's about making tough decisions, even when they make you feel like a jerk. This is the business of leading people, and sometimes that's a very heart-wrenching business indeed.