Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Military: Least Stressful, Most Stressful

When I retired out of the Air Force in 1999, I had wrapped up twenty-two years of stress.  After a year or two, I sat and pondered over the years and the various stress that I had come across.

People got stressed over simple crap....room inspections, haircut inspections, the month prior to base inspections, etc.

People got stressed over weather alerts, the long decision period for the wing commander to say 'snow coming, evacuate home', or the BX running out of Doctor Pepper.

People got stressed over new uniform requirements, retirement parade practice, spring cleanup, and surprise drug-dog inspections at the front-gate.

People got stressed over a bag-drag inspection for exercises, where you had to bring in your deployment bag within 90 minutes of being alerted and have the 32 items listed as a 'must-have' within the bag.

People got stressed over the NCO club dumping quarter-beer night, or bowling alley being shut down for six weeks of renovation.

In an average year, I probably ran through seven-hundred moments of stress.  One year....the unit was chosen for some unannounced mile-and-a-half run episode for a fitness check.  With just 24 hours notice....everyone sat there in some daze....being early spring and out-of-shape....and wondering if they'd pass the test.

Another year, we had the yearly mile-and-a-half run scheduled and about ten minutes before we started....some massive black clouds gathered up, and about half-way through the run....it started raining....BADLY raining, to the extreme of lightning being in the local area, and you were trying to just get to the line and hope not to be hit by lightning.

It's stupid stuff.....that most non-military folks never experience. 

The thing is....there's the other extreme side where you worry about war business....going into some combat zone....or getting stuck guarding something of extreme value. 

This is the reality of a military career....you have to get used to stress. 

The TSgt Story

A couple of days ago....an Air Force TSgt went on a rant about bad behavior female black junior enlisted.  I should note, for the sake of the rant....that the TSgt is not black.

Years ago, someone this frustrated would have gone to the NCO club....had a few beers, and shared this commentary with one or two associates.  While the video rant was up on social media....she later took it down.....it was viewed by over 900,000 folks.

Needless to say, the Air Force is unhappy, and she's going to get some counseling of some type.

Her real complaint.....simply bad behavior in terms of respect for the supervisor position.  Yeah, she did actually use some profane language, that typically gets you into trouble with the 'new' Air Force.  Yeah, it did appear racists in some ways. 

What's going on?

Three things.

1.  People want some immediate way to say something critical, and they've latched onto social media.  The problem is....it's not twenty people or a hundred people anymore who'd view the commentary....you could easily get 10,000 people in just one single day.

2.  Are there problem-kids now in the Air Force?  Yes.  I sat there in mid-1990s before retirement and noted that they were now recruiting some juvenile-like kids into the military who weren't capable of taking direction.  My worry at that point was that they would not mature, and later become lousy NCOs.  By the 2005 era, I kinda noted the various mood-altering drugs that were being issued out to junior airmen and wondered how they would mature in a decade.  I don't think anything has improved since then.

3.  The thing about this NCO who did the rant....is that she's base gym 'director'.  Yes...head of the base gym.  Of all the more stressful positions in the Air Force....I used rate this among the bottom ten stressful jobs.  In the 1970s....this was typically the job you gave to some NCO who was going to retire in two years.  Over the past twenty years....the gym profession has moved up and now probably one of the more stressful jobs.  Tons of money got pumped in....gyms are run 24-hours a day now, and people whine about the condition of the gym.