Saturday, April 26, 2008

Managing Deployment Stress

I meant to write about this topic for some time, but always had something better to write, or was not feeling like writing anything. Before I get into this, I want to share some of the things that can cause deployment stress, just to give ya'll an idea. Grumpy may or may not have experienced any of these.

Grumpy's semi-random list of stress inducing crap, in rough order of stress-induction:

  • Actual combat
  • Being shot at randomly
  • Being forced to endure PowerPoint presentations that are 95% fluff
  • Being mortared
  • General Order #1 (or as I call it G.O. # Fuuuuuuuuuuunn!)
  • Watching your vehicle begin to roll into a ditch in slow motion
  • Lack of accountability for failure or poor performance
  • Listening to some POS try to take credit for everything done by others
  • Having to listen to another person explain why they are just a farmer and we got it all wrong
  • Whiny terps who make $175,000 and bitch if they work more than 4 hours a day
  • Uniform regulations
  • Anyone who answers every question with "Ani?"
  • Listening to REMFs who sit around reading regs trying to find a way to qualify for another medal
  • Inability to fire shitbags and deadwood
  • Sergeants Major
  • Officers
  • Privates
Hey what do you want, I'm Grumpy afterall.

It is impossible to do much about any of these things, so one must find ways to manage the stress they bring about. Soldiers have always had some tried and true ways to do this:
  • Fighting
  • Drinking
  • Having Sex
  • Working out
  • Humor
The first is generally bad for team cohesion (but not always), and, unbelievably to many who have never served, the military in it's infinite wisdom has outlawed the second two, to include pornography (see General Order #1 above, I may write more about the stupidity of this, but that's a whole 'nuther post). That really only leaves working out and humor. Well, some would argue video games, which many people play to escape, but I do not agree.

Exercise

This is too easy to skip in the go-go world of 16 hour days, 7 days a week, but it is essential to find the time. And although I am guilt of having missed my routine when "business" was good, I quickly got back on it. Some guys work out everyday, more disciplined than me I guess. There were even a few who worked out twice a day, but the key is to find timing and a routine that works for you, but mainly to burn off stress. I used to like to run, but had hurt my ankle and foot in Ft XXXXX before deploying. Which took time to heal because of all my LaCrosse and Football injuries from school (or maybe it's just that I am getting old? -- nah.) Inspired by Tin/Katana I tried using the Elliptical and found that to be very effective without pounding my knees and causing my ankle to swell (mortars attacks were doing a fine job of that!)

Humor

This would be CI Roller Dude's top advice, and personally, as grumpy as I may be I always try to find a way to laugh at our situation. There are a couple of great Combat Comedians in my unit, notably "B". But "D" is certainly one of the best, and that was one of the best things about my CA Guard unit - there were lots of us with twisted senses of humor. We've played many a practical joke on each other.

So, those are my big two, hard to say which is more important than the other to making it out of here sane. If anyone has a good deployment practical joke story, I would love to hear it.

4 comments:

"D" AKA CI-Roller Dude said...

Grumpy,
The being mortared and shot at really didn't bother me as much as some of our dumbass leaders doing things to get us killed and rob us of our sleep. I needed a lot of sleep.

Tin Ma'am said...

Grumpy,
General Order 1 was always pretty lame. I think someone was seriously optimistic when they thought that pornography could ever be banned.

nyal gaidin said...

"Watching your vehicle begin to roll into a ditch in slow motion"

Especially when you are the gunner in the lead vehicle and you see it first hand...priceless.

At least they give you disability for the rest of your life.

Another to add to the list: Shower stalls that are a sandy 400ft away from your tent

Army Sergeant said...

I know what you mean about 'inability to get out dirtbags'. I think that's my number one gripe with how these things are affecting the military-well, that and the automatic promotions. You know it now goes up to SSG? Crazy.

I dig the humour thing, though. Sometimes things are so bad, all you can do is laugh.