We were trained to never let complacency settle in. We were trained to take each mission seriously. We were trained that if we screwed up, fell behind, didn’t check and double check that someone would get hurt or killed. Do not get complacent in your job! The definition of complacent is: pleased, especially with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied. It doesn’t sound like a bad thing; it means you are pleased with whatever you are doing. But being complacent in an environment where lives are at risk is not a good thing. You have to stay on your toes; you have to constantly view, and review your surroundings. Always prepare always train; always be vigilant and ready for any surprise that may arise.
My time in Iraq I spent repairing, maintaining, and tinkering with gun trunks that secured the supply lines both on and off the road. Both scenarios could have cost lives. If I became complacent while changing oil for example, and ignore the thought of double checking could spell disaster for the occupants in that vehicle should the vehicle break down and leave them vulnerable. Should I not be as vigilant when I was manning the gun and not look twice, again it could spell disaster for anyone that is around.
Let’s fast-forward to 2015-2016. I no longer run gun trucks or maintain them. Instead I deal with high end clientele with a lot of money and a lot of power. Not to mention I work in a fast pace industry that is strongly profit driven. Dealing with 10 to 20 people a day that requires pampering and attention to detail every single time can become nerve wrecking. If you are good at this job you do make a lot of money but if you become complacent, and forget to call people back, or follow up or even as simple paying attention to detail can become costly profit losses for the company. For ten years now I have been an exotic car service consultant. Taking my automotive knowledge and my ability to work under pressure I have created a following, a customer base within my industry that I work for. People from cross town will come and see me just for the sheer fact that I can handle any stressful situation and ensure quality of work for the top dollar they pay. The training that I received about never becoming complacent, always pushing me and what I do for pure excellence and perfection has made me the near-perfect Service Consultant.
Why so much talk about complacency and the dangers of it? Today, I read an article about a veteran who called committed suicide because he called the VA crisis hotline and went to voicemail. Many fingers are being pointed; many excuses are being made up. “There is a backlog”, “we have no manning”, or glitches or issues or who knows what it is. Let us stop for a moment and think about this. There are human beings that work at the VA. There are two key words in that sentence. HUMAN-being and WORK. Being Human and doing work can become nothing more than a job; even at a VA hospital or clinic. Answering phone calls day in and day out, getting crank phone calls, goofing off with your co-workers to add some light in a darkened world, all this can turn an exciting career saving lives into a dull job. My assumption, my belief is: Employees (nothing more than just employees) at VA hospitals have become complacent in their jobs. Someone’s shift is over in 5 minutes, why answer the phone? “Let it go to voicemail, the incoming shift will handle it!” “I missed the call; I was on a bathroom break.” Complacency is setting in at the workplace or hospitals of VA clinics. In my humble opinion that is what is happening to our veteran community. We are trained to have our heads on a swivel and not become too pleasant of our surroundings or what we do, so we check, we improve and we continue. We, as a collective group of veterans begin to put our lives and trust in the hands of individuals that do not have the same training as we do when it comes to checking our work and knowing why we do the things we do.
I have now in my opinion provided the problem, the broken link in the VA. Now, I need to provide the solution. How do we overcome any objective in the military? We train! We train to overcome, improvise and adapt! We begin to think outside the box. “Take these supplies from Base A to Base B; do not let the bad guys get it!” How? Take enough fire power with you that the devil himself remains in Hell until we pass! The VA and its EMPLOYEES (there is that word again) need to stop treating themselves as a job and workers, but begin to take on persona of taking on a challenge, taking on something that is bigger than them instead of just a paycheck. Let’s start with the core and work up. The backbone of our military has always been the younger enlisted. They are the ones that do the hard labor; you train them to become NCOs and Officers, and leaders of the greatest fighting force the world has ever seen!
The employees at these VA hospitals should understand that they too, are the core of that organization. They too need training and a mental wakeup call that becoming complacent in what they do can eventually kill someone.
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