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Officer-enlisted relationship

Discussion in 'Military Medicine' started by njaqua, May 16, 2007.

  1. njaqua

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    How are officers generally treated (outside official situations) by enlisted soldiers? I've met a couple out at the bar and when I tell them about HPSP and how I'll be an officer, etc, I assumed there would be some brotherhood bonding going on. However, they basically said how they don't like officers (even though docs are OK) and how officers aren't "real Army" etc. wtf?
     
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  3. BigNavyPedsGuy

    BigNavyPedsGuy Junior Member

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    Fisrt of all get used to docs not being "real army". Have you always liked your boss? Probably not. It's reasonable for some enlisted to be resentful (especially at a bar). My experiences however, have all been positive. There's a reserve petty officer down the street who took me out to the reserve center to show me around when I first met him. It was a seaman who showed me how to find the shuttle on my first day of my ADT. Everyone was friendly and courteous.
     
  4. Croooz

    Croooz Senior Member

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    The thing is your not currently an officer. Your just "some kid with a scholarship". Once you're wearing the uniform there will be the brotherhood you seek. However not all brothers get along. ;)
     
  5. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    I sort of agree with this statement. It's like when I was an e-4 (p). You can walk around saying "I am promotable" all day, but you are not a SGT yet.

    Directly commissioned officers, who were never enlisted before will have the hardest time breaking down the enlisted/officer barrier. Because in their eyes all you did was go to school for a long time. That does not make you a soldier.

    At least an OCS officer can say that he went to something LIKE basic training. Basic is the thing that bonds all enlisted soldiers together. When two soldiers meet for the first time, 9/10 times even thought they did not go to the same basic site, and have never met, they will share basic training stories. It is the great equalizer that they (we--I was enlisted) have all been through. In basic, it feels like you against the drill sergeants, and from that comes the comraderie. The platoon has to come together to overcome the obstacles placed in front of them by screaming, apparently crazy drill sergeants because you cannot do it by yourself. It is like that by design.
     
  6. tscottturner

    tscottturner Member

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    Don't expect any buddy-buddy relationships with enlisted. Typically, like others said, their attitude is that you're an officer and probably have your head up your a$$. I wouldn't mention that you will be an officer - you either are or you aren't. Other officers will not consider you a "real officer" as a doctor because you haven't done anything to earn the rank, or the respect - it was simply gifted to you by the army to help fill a position that they needed to be filled. I'm simply speaking from recent experience as a combat arms officer. Will it always be like this? No - as long as you aren't arrogant, show that you put others before yourself and treat enlisted with respect for what they HAVE earned, you will earn their respect in time.
     
  7. jonb12997

    jonb12997 I'm a doctor!!

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    I think this is key. And it's true not just in an officer-enlisted relationship, but also when it comes to "doctor/med student"-"nurse/pa/tech" relationships.
     
  8. Ex-44E3A

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    Think you'll be a "respected officer" as a physician O-3? Prepare yourself... you're in for a shock.

    Pay close attention to the above paragraph... it contains much truth. A couple of things:

    1. You shouldn't be "buddy-buddy" with your enlisted folks anyway. That can create the appearance of "playing favorites" and raise the spectre of inappropriate relationships. There's a good reason the military has rules against Fraternization. You'll hear the phrase "prejudicial to good order and discipline" many times... and being "pals" with subordinates outside work can seriously undermine your ability to direct/command at work.

    2. Fact: You're not a "real officer" in the eyes of everyone else in the military. You'll get little respect and much disdain (and it's all the more ironic that recruiters hype the "officer" thing and imply that you'll be respected as one... not true). The military doesn't understand or respect what it takes to become a physician, thus you didn't "earn" your rank.

    I remember a colleague being jacked up at Maxwell and yelled at for being "given rank" while the former-ROTC FTO "earned his." (the physician quipped back "then perhaps you should have gone to school." It was classic... you could have heard a pin drop...).

    It's uproariously funny to me that the military demands physicians "live up" to the obligations and role of an officer (and all the duties and responsibilities of that role), yet is so loathe to grant the respect an officer of that rank would normally receive. I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. You can't constantly drill into people "you're in the military, g**dammit!" while at the same time undercutting and diminishing that service by saying "you're not really military... they just give you guys rank" (and you won't just hear this from one guy... other officers will stand around, arms folded, and nod agreement)

    This kind of intellectual schizophrenia is all too common. Get used to it.

    You can hang all the patriotic/service trappings you want on milmed, but the bottom line is that most of the military doesn't act as if physicians give up anything to serve their country, and it shows. They often act like they're doing YOU a favor... and grudgingly at that. You'll get it from the enlisted, other officers, your commanders, your MAJCOM, you name it.

    That sort of enmity is poison to any sort of team effort, and makes for a very dysfunctional working environment. Also, God help you if you actually try to call somebody on the carpet for their blatant rudeness or insubordination... your commanders are unlikely to back you up. You'll have no choice but to sit there and absorb the resentment and hostility of the very people who are supposed to be working with/for you. What's worse, you'll have no ability to make any changes, since you have no control over who works for you.

    Oh yes... go ahead... ask me how glad I am to be a civilian.
     
  9. Ex-44E3A

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    Just to be fair, let me put in an addendum here.

    I noted significant inter-service differences in the phenomenon I expounded upon above. I got most of the nasty resentment attitude from my fellow blue-suiters, and a bit from the Army. The one place I never really sensed any of that was the Navy.

    I have brothers and cousins in all the services (except the Marine Corps), and I've visited them at their duty stations at various times. The Navy guys were very squared away, couldn't help me enough, and were happy to show me around (even areas not normally considered "officer country"). I also never encountered any problems when deployed with the Navy or Army folks.

    I attribute this to the fact that the lines of demarcation between officer and enlisted are drawn more brightly in the other services. The AF? Not so much.
     
  10. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Admitted--good points here.

    Sometimes the command where you work is dedicated to being fair about this however. The CSM at the hospital where I worked when I was enlisted was extremely serious about rank and courtesy. She also would not ever let us refer to reservists who had been activated to back fill the hospital when our personnel were sent to OIF/OEF as "Activated Reservists." In our Junior and Senior NCO meetings every month she would touch on this and say "they are soldiers--just like you and me."

    Having said that, I do not envy those who are directly commissioned without having served a day of enlisted time. I do not have to deal with this. I have been to basic, dragged a weapon through the crap, been made to do push ups by crazy drill sergeants, been to PLDC, and "taken care of soldiers" so I will be given a little more respect. When I get an office at whatever hospital I end up, I will DEFINITELY be putting up all my plaques and pictures of myself with my stripes from my enlisted days so when a soldier walks in, they will relax a little.
     
  11. BigNavyPedsGuy

    BigNavyPedsGuy Junior Member

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    Are you gonna put those in every exam room? If not, then they won't know the difference and won't relax anymore then they will for anyone else. Patients don't actually go to your office.
     
  12. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    They do for psychology. Sometimes I assume everyone knows that part about me. Sorry :) In my "handle" 73B=Clinical Psychologist (PhD or PsyD)
     
  13. megadon

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    Look, I was the worst kind of direct commission officer, the acad grad. When I got to the boat, there were a couple ROTC guys, a couple acad, and couple NUPOC (Naval Reactors pays for their college at civilian school, they do nothing military like ever, get paid as an E-4, and graduate with 60 days of leave on the books). Captain was acad, and the crew loved him because he fought for port calls. They also were scared of him because he had played football and had quite the temper. The next Captain was also acad, and we ALL hated him, because he would screw all of us over any chance he thought it would help his career. Did the crew like me, I like to think they did, but I think it was because I tried to treat me like their job was just as important as mine, and that they knew what they were doing a lot better than I knew what they were doing.

    I tell you what, I know that that doctors, nurse corps, all of us MC, MSC types are second tier officers, we can never have command of a ship or anything, and the line guys know it. If any of them ever give me crap about getting autopromoted, I'll have to remember that line, then point to the dolphins on my chest, and say, I did.

    As far as your relationship with your enlisted, it's a boss subordinate kind of thing. If you've ever had a good boss, then you realize it's unspoken and never gets in the way and you can be friends. But don't get too close, cause that leads to trouble and accusations of preferential treatment.
     
  14. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    This has actually been one of the most informative posts in the military section of the website I have encountered. After being in the Army for 6 years, I feel like the Navy guy (Megadon) is speaking a different language! Very cool.

    I am not sure why Naval medical officers cannot take command of anything, but you can in the Army. All you have to do is ask. When you get to 0-2/0-3 range, you make it known that you want to be a CDR and they will probably let you try it. If you screw up though, you are not on the fast track anymore and you wll probably retire at MAJ.
     
  15. backrow

    backrow 60% of the time it works everytime
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    Navy Medical corps officers can command hospitals and the such. What he was saying is they will never have command of a warship or something of the sort. The same way you won't see an army doc taking command of a tank battalion.

    The reason this comes into play (well not really) is because of the command structure on the ship, even if the doc is a LCDR and the every other officer except a line ensign dies, the ensign takes command of the ship, not the LCDR doc.
     
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  17. megadon

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    If the only person left on the ship was you (the doc), and a pilot, the pilot would get command. Sure, we can be in charge of hospitals, clinics, whatever. We all know that isn't going to happen either thanks to nurse corps. And frankly, I don't care about not getting it because it would just take time away from my practice.
     
  18. tscottturner

    tscottturner Member

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    Are Navy docs not taught any tactical stuff? How about in the Air Force?
     
  19. Ex-44E3A

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    I actually touched on a couple of issues in my initial post, so let me flesh them out a little bit so that everyone understands. This is predominately aimed at the junior officers here... you BTDT types already know this stuff.


    Fraternization:

    Be very careful with your relationships.

    If you went college-> med school -> residency straight-thru, you're going to find that a lot of your military co-workers are of a similar age (or a bit younger). They may have similar interests outside work, and probably socialize together off-base. The more-relaxed atmosphere that often reigns in medical units encourages more socialization than other types of units.

    My opinion: You should avoid socializing outside work with your subordinates. I've only seen it produce problems, because it acts as a complicating factor when the time comes to discipline somebody (and discipline problems WILL arise). If you need "buds" to go socialize with, I'd advise joining a hunting club or your local "road runners" (the latter will help you stay in shape).

    I realize this is a hard line to take, but trust me; it avoid all sorts of entanglements. It becomes even tougher in the deployed environment: your movements are restricted, your entertainment options are limited, and you're stuck with a small number of people. Discipline problems will often be exacerbated under the stress of deployment, and otherwise-rational people will do all sorts of asinine things they'd never do in CONUS. Keeping your nose clean may mean socializing/hanging with a very small group of fellow officers and not being "one of the boys," but that's the way the cookie crumbles... it's one of the burdens you carry by virtue of your rank and responsibilities.

    Also, don't even think of getting romantically-involved with a subordinate or enlisted person. Don't disgrace yourself, your service, or your fellow physicians by publicly demonstrating your inability to control your gonads (and everyone is going to know about it). Stop. Don't rationalize. Walk away.

    Line vs Non-Line:

    As a medical officer, you're a second-class officer in the eyes of many line-types. You're not really in the command chain, you don't have command responsibilities, and you're generally not accorded the same level of respect.

    As a medical 2nd LT, you're not even a "g***amned butter-bar"... you're even less than that.
     
  20. BigNavyPedsGuy

    BigNavyPedsGuy Junior Member

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    no
     
  21. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Yeah, that is true. I guess I have only seen Docs in command of hospitals and such, but a MEDCEN is still a brigade level command (1 star general slot). My CDR in AIT was a Master's level nurse and he was so NOT cut out for it.
     
  22. alpha62

    alpha62 Banned
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    believe me, you'll only be treated like an officer when it comes time to dump the blame on somebody; Then you'll be held to the same level of accountablity as an Armor commander at the Kasserine Pass.
     
  23. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    Could it be that the Air Force has a higher percentage of officers than the other branches? At SAM, I was also surprised to see company grade officers were eating lunch with and going to the all-ranks club with their sergeants.
     
  24. Ex-44E3A

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    Is that actually true? I've never seen statistics on it. I do know that the AF is different among the services in that it's the enlisted men who send the officers (pilots) out to get killed, instead of the other way around.
     
  25. deuist

    deuist Stealthfully Sarcastic
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    When Time magazine named the U.S. soldier as the Person of the Year a few years ago, the article mentioned the breakdown of the ranks.

    Your sentence about enlisted sending the officers out reminded me of some AF jokes:


    An Army grunt stands in the rain after marching 12 miles with 35-pound pack on his back and says, "God, this is ****."

    An Army Airborne recruit stands in the rain after jumping from an airplane and marching 18 miles with a 45-pound pack on his back and says with a smile, "God, this is the ****."

    An Army Airborne Ranger lies in the mud after jumping from a plane into a swamp and marching 25 miles at night past the enemy with a 55-pound pack on his back and says with a grin, "God, I love this ****!"

    A Green Beret kneels in the stinking mud of a swamp with a 65-pound pack on his back after jumping from an airplane into the ocean, swimming ten miles to the swamp and crawling 30 miles through the brush to assault the enemy camp and says with a passionate snarl, "God, give me some more of this ****!"

    An Air Force recruit sits in an easy chair in his air-conditioned, carpeted quarters and says, "The internet connection's out? What kind of **** is this?"

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Which Service Has the Smartest Enlisted Force?

    There is no doubt at all that, of all the Services, the Air Force has the most intelligent enlisted people. This is not just opinion, it's provable fact:

    Take the Army, for instance. When the stuff hits the fan, the young Army private wakes up from a bellow from the First Sergeant. He grabs a set of BDUs out of his foot locker, gets dressed, runs down to the chow-hall for a breakfast on the run, then jumps in his tank. Pretty soon, the Platoon Commander arrives, gives him a big salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, men."

    Now take the Marines. When the stuff hits the fan, the young Marine recruit is kicked out of bed by his First Sergeant, puts on a muddy set of BDUs because he just got back in from the field three hours before. He gets no breakfast, but is told to feel free to chew on his boots. He runs out and forms up with his rifle. Pretty soon, his platoon commander comes out, Gives his Marines a Sharp Salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, Marines!"

    Now take the Navy. When the stuff hits the fan, the young Sailor is eating breakfast in the mess room. He walks 20 feet to his battle station, stuffing extra pastries in his pocket as he goes. There he sits, in the middle of a steel target, with nowhere to run, when the Captain comes on the 1MC and says, "Give 'em Hell, Sailors! I salute you!"

    Now the Air Force. When the stuff hits the fan, the Airman receives a phone call in his off-base quarters. He gets up, showers, shaves, and puts on a fresh uniform he had just picked up from the BX cleaners the day before. He jumps in his car, and stops at McDonald's for a McMuffin on his way into work. Once he arrives at work, he signs in on the duty roster and proceeds to his F-16. He spends 30 minutes pre-flighting it, signs off the forms. Pretty soon the Pilot, a young captain, gets out and straps into the Plane. He starts the engines. Our Young Airman stands at attention, gives the Captain a sharp salute, and says, "Give 'em Hell, Sir!"

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    The biggest reason why the armed services don't work together well is because they all speak different languages. For example, consider the phrase 'SECURE THE BUILDING'.

    If you tell a Marine officer to 'secure the building', he will hand pick a team of six men to rappel into the building from a helicopter at night. They will then work their way down the building floor by floor, slitting the throats of everyone they meet, including the janitorial staff. When the reach the ground floor, they will run out the front door and yell at the top of their lungs that SIR! THE BUILDING HAS BEEN SECURED, SIR!

    If you tell an Army officer to 'secure the building', he will organize a battalion-size strike force and march it off to a half-mile or so from the building. He will then call in artillery on the building until it is a pile of rubble. Then he will run up onto the rubble, plant an American flag and announce to nobody in particular that the building has been secured.

    If you tell a Navy officer to 'secure the building', he will put the request in the chain of command, which will result in a cruiser 1000 miles away firing a single Tomahawk cruise missile that will fly out and turn the building into a smoking hole in the ground. The Fleet commanding officer will then issue a press release announcing that the building has been secured.

    If you tell an Air Force officer to 'secure the building', he'll get you a five-year lease with an option to buy.
     
  26. runningmom

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    Yeah - so almost 9 yrs active Navy as a Nuke SWO and some more time as a reserve "operational planner" (whatever that means)- you tell me to "secure the building", I'm going to turn off the lights, make sure the coffee maker is off, and then lock it up and sign a little card on the outside combination lock door that tells everyone who locked it up and when. :laugh: But that's just me...
     
  27. alpha62

    alpha62 Banned
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    Yeah, we had a 1SG that was more worried about somebody getting up and "securing" the coffee for him every morning and serving it to him all day..

    One day, somebody put a tab of LSD in his coffee.

    Exercise your rank with caution. Enlisted not as stupid as you think and they bear watching.
     
  28. 46&2

    46&2 Member

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    AF Officer-to-enlisted ratio: 1:4
    Army: 1:5
    Navy: 1:6
    Marines: 1:15

    Source-
    http://panext.com/csNews/csNews.cgi?database=2007.db&command=viewone&id=28&rnd=572.9681803514542


    Interesting article on the small officer:enlisted ratios, written in 1990. Anti- "officer bloat"-
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1316/is_n1_v22/ai_8528239

    And its counterpoint from 2004-
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3723/is_200402/ai_n9348193/pg_1

    I scanned the 2004 article but found it interesting it did not discuss the many contractors who quasi-replace enlisted personnel. The article below estimates there are 126,000 contractors (some of them probably not working for the US military) to 150,000 military personnel.

    "Contractor deaths in Iraq Soar to Record"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/19/world/middleeast/19contractors.html
     
  29. megadon

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    Completely agree, but that's a true nuke talking (subs), just kidding. Plus you can't truly secure without a shut down nuclear operator observing, (The fatal flaw in evey Jimmy Carter plan). Seriously though, it does point out we mean completeltly different things. On the MD side of the house, I hope it means you are in quarinitine.
     
  30. Apollyon

    Apollyon Screw the GST
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    Staff pukes exist to keep the line officers and enlisted in operation - to keep the war fighters fighting. From supply to get stuff to them, to the JAGs to maintain order beyond the MPs/SPs, to the MC/DC/MSC to keep them patched up well enough to go back into battle, staff corps officers are needed to do the specialized jobs.
     
  31. AF_PedsBoy

    AF_PedsBoy Stuffed Animal Overlord

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    Ha ha, priceless! :laugh:
     

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