As the Deployment Turns
I begin this with three words: Command. Climate. Survey.
Anyone who has been in the Army longer than 15 minutes has taken one of these. You’re required to take one within a certain amount of days (National Guard) of receiving a new commander and then every year after that.
The survey asks questions like:
How do you feel about your unit?
Do you trust the members of your unit?
Does your Commander exemplify the SHARP program?
If you’ve ever taken one of these things, you can tell the Army is trying to steer you to answering a certain way. The last two surveys I’ve taken are heavy on SHARP. This last survey, every other question had to do with SHARP.
How often have you been sexually assaulted?
Do you sexually assault other Soldiers?
Does the Commander support sexual assault?
From my perspective, and my perspective only, there haven’t been any SHARP violations, and I felt the survey was unduly geared towards SHARP—as if nothing else is important. Do not misunderstand me: the Army does have a problem with sexual assault, but there are many problems with the Army. Every problem should be given adequate attention.
When the survey asked me, “Are you deployed?” of course I answered yes. Then it asked me, “What is your least favourite part of the deployment?”
This is where I went insane. It was like something just snapped inside my head. I really dislike these surveys because I do not feel like they affect much change. I am forced to respond and tell you my feelings but then everything is filed away somewhere, never to be heard of again.
The thing asked several more questions, and I really dug down deep and said exactly how I felt. I also mentioned names (or rather, position), because I don’t like to deal in, well, there was this one guy who might have said this… That really isn’t helpful. I wish I hadn’t answered the questions so quickly because something did happen a few months ago that really bothered me and I forgot to mention it. The moment has passed, and like I just said, it doesn’t matter anyway. Nothing is going to change.
The results of the survey were far worse than I could ever imagined.
In all my years of being in the Army, I’ve never had to go and talk to Equal Opportunity representative about anything. Even that incident at AIT didn’t cause a furor as this. This EO Lady (that’s how I’ll refer to her) showed up to bring the hammer down. She broke us all up by gender, rank and race and we had to go into these focus groups to talk about our feelings and the stuff that we wrote on the survey.
She did not say, “Hey, SSG, you wrote that you hate your boss. Why?”
But she did ask, “How do you feel about SFC So-and-So? Do you think he is an effective leader?”
And you were supposed to answer with everyone in your peer group staring at you. I felt so uncomfortable my body temperature rose 10 degrees. Then she started going in on what happened in the barracks about the stupid ass refrigerator and subsequent incidents. I felt caught in the middle. Why couldn’t everyone agree to disagree? And why did my opinion matter? I wasn’t the one involved, and I felt as if she were trying to get me to take sides on an issue that had nothing to do with me. Yes, I did have an opinion but I felt it did not matter because I was not the injured party. Why couldn’t this woman just try to work it out between the two people involved? Obviously there was an issue between the two Soldiers. A focus group with just the two of them would have made much more sense. No one would have privy to what they say and they can really get off their chest everything that is bothering them. Why did she interrogate all of us? It made us divisive and some people were just flat out lying. It was surreal and I wanted it to end.
The EO Lady said I was emotional. I wasn’t emotional—okay, yeah, I guess anger is an emotion. Unfortunately, when I become angry I cry about it–which makes me even angrier. I wasn’t sad or depressed. I was frustrated. I did not agree with either Soldier in the Barracks Fiasco, bu since it did not involve me I did not care. I guess by some standards that is a selfish way of looking at things, but lately I’ve been on this trip that if it ain’t about me then I don’t really give a fuck.
EO Lady kept going on and on, asking me how I felt and I really just wanted to tell everyone to fuck off. I became so tired of talking about the situation. I understand that it’s this woman’s job to investigate everything, but if I have said to you, “I refuse to answer your questions,” there’s really not much else you can do with that. Move on.
I am not a middle of the road person; I have very strong opinions about a lot of things. Over the years, however, I’ve learned I have to carefully pick my battles. No one actually cares about what I think. I have come a long way in accepting that. I do not feel the need to voice my opinion on everything I come across. I now save my energy for battles that truly need fighting. I pick what is important to me and go from there. That is what I wanted this woman to understand. The size of the living quarters, yellow tape on the floor and respecting the barracks NCOIC are issues that don’t actually appear on my “Give a Shit” list.
I felt drained by the time we were done, and this crazy woman wanted us to do it again, but this time based on race.
Yes, race. Let’s talk about Ferguson up in here, because apparently that’s where we’re at.