I’m leaving the military organization I’m now a part of. Most of my subordinates and coworkers are government civilians who have been with the organization for a decade or more. The civilians remain as they watch the military at the head of the organization rotate out every two years. As part of my farewell I wanted to write an article for our unit’s quarterly newsletter. The article contained an anecdote detailing an incident I had with my boss where I got a little frustrated. I asked my boss if he minded – and I sent him the article as a reference. He did mind. I don’t think I would have if I were him. Please tell me…am I wrong to think my article was appropriate? Names below changed because I feel that’s appropriate:
The below story is full of jargon…I think even if you aren’t familiar with the military or USMEPCOM you’ll still get the gist:
I think this story will be okay because I have a good relationship with my commander. And he is MY commander because he looks out for me and I for him. Sir, please don’t take this personally.
I got mad at MAJ Dowell yesterday and it made me sad to leave the Arkadelphia MEPS. I realized that I finally get it. I understand why the service liaisons don’t like it when I rush them through a contract so we can leave work early, why Ms. Denry doesn’t sit through the shipper’s video, and why the entire MEPS scoffs at our internal IG preparation.
MAJ Dowell insisted yesterday that the Commander’s Welcome Briefing should take 35 minutes. “That’s the standard,” he said. “If it doesn’t take you that long you’re not meeting the standard,” he repeated. In his mind, the regulation specified that each slide had to be read verbatim. I was upset because the Welcome Brief only takes me 10 minutes, and I stand by the fact that I give a very informative brief. I knew he was wrong. I didn’t even have to look at the regulation, because I knew, but I decided I’d take three minutes to set the record straight. So, I pulled up the 601-23, para 5-2, and showed him that his 25 extra minutes in the brief were just that, extra.
After all, how could he question me? First off, he’s long winded (in a friendly way) and I’m efficient (maybe in a cold way). Secondly, if there are about 250 working days each year and I’ve given the brief approximately 2-3 times per week under MAJ Drim and 1-2 per week under MAJ Dowell (plus all the additional times when he and the SEA go on leave or TDY) then I’ve given this Welcome Brief about 200 times to his measly 30. Then it clicked. Now! Now, I understand that underlying frustration the Supervisors display when I question their processes on PEI scripts, medical briefings, how long ortho-neuro takes, etc. We all have repetitive jobs here at the MEPS and we are the experts because of how repetitive our jobs are!
If I’m tallying things up correctly, I’ve recited a combined total of the National Guard and Federal Oath of Enlistment to applicants four times a day (two oaths each time) for about 500 working days, so 4,000 times. I’ve run through the calendar in a weekly leaders brief 100 times, sat through 100 BN Staff Meetings, created or edited 50 Bi-Weekly Reports, checked to make sure we’ve MOTd all the applicants 500 times, and looked at the next day’s projections 500 times. If we average 12 applicant urine cups per day (at 500 working days) and 12 blood vials I’ve read 6,000 social security numbers and serial numbers on each label for a total of 12,000, and matched them against two medical forms each, which means I’ve read out 36,000 social security numbers and 36,000 serial numbers (72,000 total).
I think of all that I’ve done here and then I think of Mr. Dindsey or Mr. Derrymond or Ms. Drenda or Mr. Deer. How many times have they burned through the PEI script? or instructed ortho-neuro procedures? or looked over a 680? or read through the instructions of an ASVAB test to students at a high school?
I get it now and I’m leaving. If I’m an expert, the MEPS civilian employees must be the grandmasters. And on top of being grandmasters you all have to deal with a constant rotation of rookies (military members) coming in to tell you how to do your job. So, on my behalf…sorry for any frustration I may have caused you as I muddled my way through learning the MEPS. On my predecessor’s behalf, sorry for the frustration he/she will cause. Thank you for all your patience and hospitality. Thank you for teaching me, letting me share in your worlds for a short while, and accepting me in. Thank you for all the hard work. I’ll miss y’all! -CPT Carl Miller