ATTN: Private

May 28, 2020 — Jt Spratley

First published on March 6, 2017

If only I could go back in time and whisper a few notes in ears of my younger self . . .

Ask Drill Sergeants about their military occupational specialty. Ask what they know about your MOS. Why? Knowledge. There’s a lot more you need to know now about the military than Initial Entry Training will teach you, directly or indirectly. Take notes.

You’re starting off a bad shooter because you don’t comprehend the “breathing” part of the four marksmanship fundamentals – steady position, trigger squeeze, and proper aim. Don’t wait for a senior noncommissioned officer that’s ragged on a lot though he brings massive experience to the unit you’ve come to highly respect to point out that you unconsciously breathe faster during weapons qualification. Afterwards, the reason you’ll rarely shoot “expert” is because you lose count on those stupid paper target sheets.

Don’t beat yourself up for having to re-class. Later you’ll be well respected for your versatility in IT knowledge and eagerness to learn. You should’ve enlisted as a Signaleer, but the recruiter did his job. You’re in.

Embrace being chosen as the first Phase 5 trainee in your class and later the student platoon sergeant. You were leading by example. Look to help others in need. Keep asking out-of-the-box questions.

You did the right thing owning up after the only other guy to confess, even if everyone else went bravo foxtrot/blue falcon. Yes, life sucked for the few weeks you spent doing “area beautification” in the battalion area of operations from 0900-1500 and manning the barracks’ entrances wearing Class A’s ensuring no one brings contraband inside from 1700-1900, not to mention the morning after the incident when the battalion Sergeant Major smoked y’all for God knows how long. You exercised integrity, a double-edged sword that will get you a package deal of respect and dislike over and over. Get used to it.

The salty Staff Sergeant that keeps telling you to go home is arguably the best mentor you’ll have during your time in service. Ask more of him. Pick his brain. He sees the good in you and wants to help. Let him.

Although she crept you out with her religious rant at the end of that late work night, when she gave you that lawful order to visit the education center for online college info she was doing right by you. You will likely end up with Central Texas College but you’ll shave a bit off that long duration you’ll later spend as a Specialist (promotable) if you start now.

Stop spending so much time working. Be social. Make some friends. Work on your music. Stay in the gym. Your body will thank you. Airborne!

Keep a better sleep schedule and RUN more. You can’t avoid the two-mile run. Sixty points mean you barely passed. Fix yourself.

Keep reading those Army regulations and field manuals. Keep asking your office/room-mate questions. Yes, you’re annoying, but he’ll be alright.

Don’t bring your girlfriend to your office so you can check Remedy service requests. WTF, Over!

You have no idea how much those phone calls you make when you can’t pay the car note on time are going to help your credit. Yes, it sucks to savor one extra-large pizza for a whole weekend. One – it gets better. Two – buy actual food and you’ll save money, numb-nuts!

On one hand, if you ask her out, you’ll see first hand the issues with dating in the workplace. . . or she may simply say no. On the other hand, this discipline will help a lot in the future. On a side note, you’re better off not knowing. . .

Use your own workstation as the guinea pig for upgrading the unit from Windows XP to Vista, not the Operations NCO‘s. Yeah, he is the only one who uses it, making it easier to schedule, but that means nothing unless you back up his data first! Learn about data backup and recovery. Download and burn an .iso file for Ultimate Boot CD. Learn it. Love it. Don’t tell DOIM NEC about it. “Smiley face”.

You were awarded your first Army Achievement Medal as a Private First Class for being proactive in solving problems on your own with the help of DOIM, Battalion S-6, and Google. That doesn’t happen often. Stay appreciative.

Those local .pst Outlook files allow senior Leaders to archive more e-mails without getting that dreaded notification e-mail stating they’ve breached their mailbox limit. Suck it up or learn how to make shared drives for them to access from multiple workstations. The issue will be resolved in a few years.

That Specialist (promotable) in charge of you is a good guy. He’s not annoying you for nothing. He’s trying to bring you out of your shell. Loosen up.

Treasure time spent with these guys though they may never know how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you. Every personnel change affects the unit – sometimes even years later.

Live and learn, right?

Tags: military, professional-development