The Salty Millennial - page 6

The Salty Millennial has 57 articles published.

Salty’s Tips for Returning from Deployment

in Life Hacks

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Millennials are basically incapable of adapting to anything. That’s why returning from deployment is so scary for us young sailors and officers. We get so used to shipboard life that reintegrating into our families and communities can be really tough on our fragile psyches.

So, I’d like to offer some sage advice to the sailors and families of the USS Harry S. TrumanStrike Group, which returned to homeport this weekend. Instead of encouraging sailors to adjust to life on land, their families and friends should provide a welcoming environment by simulating life at sea. By catering their lives to the sailor, they will ease his or her transition to life on land, and have some fun doing it! Here are some tips on how to make returning sailors feel more comfortable:

  • As much as possible, use nautical jargon like landlubber, scallywag, pollywog, scuttlebutt, starboard, amidships, and keelhaul. They’ll feel a sense of calm when you yell, “I’ll keelhaul you if you leave the dirty dishes in the sink one more time!”
  • Make up words like longslides, and faddlepat, dropshanks. As in, “No, honey, it’s behind the faddlepat!” They’ll be used to feeling confused by words they don’t know and they’ll appreciate the sense of inclusion when they finally figure out what the words mean.
  • Make sure they have at least two buddies with them before they leave the house without you (same sex only!). Be sure to tell them to “enjoy their liberty!”
  • If they don’t make it home by curfew, make them sleep on the couch. Wake them up at 6 a.m. to explain themselves. Don’t believe a word they say and assign them eight hours of family remediation training. Throw in “you could have been dead in a ditch!” for good measure.
  • Call an Uber and when it arrives, tell your sailor “sorry, you’re not on the manifest!”
  • Make sure to have a collection of empty bottles of their favorite condiments, along with full bottles of the ones they don’t like, on the kitchen table. Even if it’s supposed to be refrigerated, leave it on the table.
  • Set alarms in the middle of the night for absolutely no reason at all.
  • Take normal words and change them slightly, like “orientate” and “risk adverse.” Say them with extreme confidence!
  • Create acronyms when normal words would do just fine. For example, instead of “garden hose,” use “Water Delivery Device, Green, Extendable (WDDGE).” Then call it a “widge.”
  • Keep the remote while watching TV. Every few seconds, hit pause then fast forward 10 seconds and hit play. This simulates the way your sailor watches TV onboard the ship. It won’t work as well if your sailor serves on an aircraft carrier.

If you follow this advice, it should be a little easier for your sailor to orientate their dropshanks as a landlubber. If it doesn’t work, don’t blame me! Blame millennials!

A Bold Proposal

in Epiphanies

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

In 1729, my spirit guide, Dr. Jonathan Swift, penned “A Modest Proposal” to the people of England to solve their widespread poverty problems. Tragically, his thoughtful suggestion to sell Irish babies to the aristocracy as food has been widely ridiculed as some sort of joke, even to this day. SMH.

In honor of Dr. Swift’s 351st birthday, I would like to try to salvage his legacy as an innovator with a bold proposal to solve one of the biggest problems facing the U.S. military today: misbehaving veterans. Every day it seems veterans are becoming more and more of a menace to society. The President even sounded the alarm after the latest veteran mass murderer killed 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California. When they are not killing people, they are scamming thousands of people out of their hard earned money! And if they are not a threat to others, they are a threat to themselves. On average, 20 veterans a day commit suicide, bringing undesirable scrutiny on the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Administration (VA).

Introducing the Retroactive Immediate Dishonorable Discharge (R.I.D.D.)

The R.I.D.D. program fundamentally changes the equation for veterans’ affairs in the United States. When veterans commit an act of misconduct, as determined by the DoD Public Affairs Office, they immediately will receive a dishonorable discharge, retroactive to their last day of honorable active service. In addition, service members discharged under the R.I.D.D. program no longer will be considered veterans—alleviating the need to include them in inconvenient statistics. For example, by enacting R.I.D.D., the veteran suicide rate will drop to zero percent overnight.

Precedent exists for R.I.D.D. From 2007 to 2012, an intrepid team of psychiatrists reversed 40 percent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses at Madigan Army Medical Center in an attempt to save taxpayers the immense cost of treating veterans with PTSD, which they documented at $1.5 million per soldier. Imagine the savings they could have provided if they had taken this program force-wide. Even academia seems to be getting on board. In November 2016, Yale removed a depressed student from campus over concerns she may commit suicide and bring unhelpful media attention to the school’s high suicide rate. Brilliant. Most recently, the Commandant of the Marine Corps signaled his support for this type of program by labeling the Thousand Oaks shooter as an “ex-Marine,” effectively excommunicating him from the Corps. Under the R.I.D.D. program, this person in fact would no longer be a Marine, or even a veteran, and therefore no longer a concern for DoD and the VA.

And let’s not forget the ingenious “secret waiting lists” of the VA. First reported in 2014, this creative approach enabled the VA to meet strict timeline requirements for providing medical care to veterans. Undeterred by prying media and congressional investigations, the VA continued to employ secret waiting lists as recently as 2017 to alleviate the strain on overworked physicians and bureaucrats. This is exactly the kind of relentless innovation upon which the R.I.D.D. program aims to expand.

Critics no doubt will dismiss a bold initiative such as R.I.D.D. in favor of more traditional approaches. They will claim that more funding should be allocated to veterans’ wellness programs to provide preventative mental health care and research into next-generation medical treatments for PTSD. They will argue that DoD and the VA need to be logically integrated to provide veterans a smooth transition from active service to civilian life. They might even have you believe that 17 years of war takes its toll on an all-volunteer force. Do not listen to these haters! A modest proposal such as Dr. Swift’s made sense back in his time. Today, a bolder proposal is appropriate. Aggressive, innovative action is required to address misbehaving veterans. Get R.I.D.D. of them!

Never Read the Comments

in Haterade
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan/Released)

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

I was going to double down on my last article on leadership, but I have seen the error of my ways. First, there’s this story. Apparently, 1 in 4 of millennial students have PTSD from Trump’s election. Um . . . really guys? I’m trying to defend us here and this is not helping!

Then, unrelated, I found your comments on the USNI Blog. Oh, boy, the comments! I am truly sorry I didn’t respond earlier (a website error made it look like my posts had zero comments, and I was getting lonely ☹)! In any case, thank you for your feedback! I think I have been way out of line. I wanted to take the opportunity to respond to some of the highlights.

“Does anyone on the USNI editorial board actually believe this author exemplifies the traditions and editorial standards of the institute? The snarky attitude, annoyingly casual writing style, inane content, and lack of evidence of any rigorous analysis are the antithesis of what one expects to find when coming to the USNI. Please stop this experiment and send the author somewhere more appropriate, like Facebook.”

  • That should have come with a trigger warning. Ok, I’ll go back to spreading these ideas among my peers. Echo chambers are healthier and more productive anyway.

“Sure wish you’d drop the ‘millennial’ label. It represents a generalization that is not productive.”

  • You’re right. Maybe we should just change the word, instead of attempting to influence the cultural attitudes the word evokes. That would be too much to ask. Hey, it might help if we did the same with “shell shock! battle fatigue! combat neurosis! PTSD!”

“Did it ever occur to Salty that his fungibility was largely in his own hands? Individuals are fungible until they prove themselves to be superior to their colleagues.”

  • Excellent point! I used this verbatim at my last Departmental Quarters. I could tell it really resonated with the troops!

“Ahhh. Another JO who doesn’t understand the performance system and can’t correlate “timing” with performance. Guess what… if you were killing it, your command would have made the timing work out.”

  • So you’re saying my “1 of 1 Promotable” with the comment, “Shows potential to one day become a competent naval officer” wasn’t what I should be going for? Got it. Just so I understand: I perform at a high level à Command manipulates timing à Command evaluates me based on timing à I am rewarded for high performance. Is that right? Out of curiosity, what’s wrong with just keeping the first and last steps?

“This could have been a much better article, but perhaps the author was too high to effectively make his case. Looks like some of the C- undergrad papers I am used to receiving. This is a serious subject worth attention here and in other forums. Next time do the writing when not high (or pretending to be such.)”

  • I honestly can’t believe USNI published the marijuana article. I crossed a line pretending to be high on a substance that literally cannot get you high. But then I read feedback like this from a veteran on Twitter, and it makes me wonder…

“Hey, Salty! I think you need to switch to decaf! And keep someone close-by who knows CPR! You’re gonna have a coronary! You get way too spun-up about other peoples’ opinions and ideas. Last time I checked, this is why we do what we do in the military! Ya know the part about “protecting and defending”! Remember?”

  • I’m calm, I’m calm. I don’t know what decaf is, but I cut down to four Monsters a day, so I feel better now. Now I don’t get spun up, I just keep my head down and follow orders. Questioning attitudes are overrated. Thank you.

“Age used to confer some level of automatic deference (per my parents and a long-lost age of manners). When I was young we had to try to conceal our eye-rolling from the observation of those who lectured us about our youthful proclivity to misunderstand the world and “why things were done.” You are lucky because you don’t even have to conceal your eye-roll (although I suppose that being anonymous fulfills the same role).”

  • Good point sir! And I don’t really think anonymity is helping anything. I wanted to contact you to continue the discussion, but Disqus told me your identity was private. Oh well.

Ahhh, you know I’m only kidding! A little criticism isn’t going to stop me. I’m enjoying the conversation! Keep responding, and I’ll listen, but I won’t stop. One thing I am serious about is the unhelpfulness of anonymity. So I think it’s time to let you all know who I am and what this is all about. Stay tuned for the big reveal! Oh, and sincerely, thank you for your feedback!

Orders to the Helm?

in Leadership

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Hello again. In case we haven’t met yet: I’m a snarky young whippersnapper who thinks the war on millennials, the Navy’s personnel management system, and its stance on medical marijuana/cannabis for veterans are ridiculous. Now, I want to set a more serious tone and discuss one of the Navy’s favorite topics: leadership. I know what you’re thinking…what’s a millennial going to teach me about leadership? This guy’s been in the Navy since breakfast. He’s never had command, he doesn’t understand it, and his opinions aren’t needed. Well, I’ve observed a few things since I finished my avocado toast this morning, and I don’t really care whether you want my opinion or not. Here it comes.

There’s a pretty big difference between how the Navy talks about leadership and how it leads. The Navy talks a lot about character, ethics, and mentorship. Take a look at the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson’s Naval Leadership Development Framework. It sounds a lot like servant leadership, but officers who are particularly good at this brand of leadership are not the ones we tend to promote to the highest levels. Why? Maybe it comes down to results. The proof is in the pudding. How many Battle E’s did your ship win? How did you perform on deployment? How did INSURV go? Crew advancement and retention numbers certainly are key metrics, but generally they are secondary to more warfighting-focused areas . . . and that’s not wrong. After all, warfighting is the mission. Its why we’re all here. But what happens when leaders get scope-locked on results?

Likewise, the CNO’s framework, and its many predecessors, aren’t bad either. The problem is the Navy pays them lip service. We say one thing and do another. A vice admiral (who since put on a fourth star) once told me and an auditorium full of prospective department heads (oooh . . . identity teaser!) that we were all “fungible.” To be honest, I had to look it up: easily replaced, essentially interchangeable. Needless to say, I didn’t feel very valued as an individual. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe we surface warfare officers (SWOs) do need to “suck it up” a little and just do their jobs, which is to lead. So, was I supposed to mentor and develop my junior SWOs individually? Or just teach them that they are interchangeable, and they need to put their heads down and focus on the next inspection? Or maybe I’m supposed to develop my subordinates individually while acknowledging that I’m the one that has no unique value? How do we sustain such a dichotomy? That’s like Santa Claus for kids. Eventually, they grow up and you either tell them it was all made up, or they figure it out for themselves. The message is clear: we told you we cared about you because you were a young ensign and that was a lie you needed to hear. You’re getting older now, so shut up and get to work!

So, why doesn’t the Navy abandon the servant-leadership myth and embrace the results-based leadership it tacitly promotes? Well, for starters, it’s not working. It doesn’t take Corbett or Mahan to look at the state of the Navy, particularly the surface force, and know there is a problem. The tragic collisions of 2017 were just the latest symptoms. Farsi Island incident ring a bell? Ever heard of Fat Leonard? Even the 2016 SM-2 intercept of cruise-missile attacks by USS Mason (DDG-87) can’t be celebrated. The other DDG in company didn’t even see the missiles. Fifty percent ain’t good. Not to mention the Navy’s well-documented struggles to keep up with deployment schedules amid maintenance delays and constant operational demand. Dynamic Force Employment won’t fix everything. Not without a healthy cultural overhaul. Decades of resource and demand imbalance on leaders gave birth to a cultural rot in the Navy, forcing officers more and more just to do what it takes to get the job done, leaving little room for training, development, wellness and other tenets of the leadership models the service so proudly touts.

How long will the Navy keep trying to stuff more you-know-what in that five-pound sack? Now, even rebalancing resources with demand won’t be enough. Much like black mold, cultural rot must be addressed directly and eradicated, sometimes taking the structure down with it. Some of the Navy’s sharpest young officers already are tackling the cultural rot from the fleet, by breaking down the barriers between warfighting communities and more widely sharing knowledge. Unfortunately, the other communities may not be as welcoming of a surface force so plagued with problems. To be sure, there will be no substitute for good old-fashioned hard work. Even a millennial can see that. It also will require some senior admirals publicly addressing the problem and acknowledging that it may take as much time to fix as it took to develop. It likely won’t be solved on their watch. I’m not holding my breath.

Remember, it’s all about results.

The DoD Policy on Marijuana Finally Makes Sense, Because I Am Way High

in Epiphanies

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

I just vaped some CBD oil, and I am out of my mind high right now. Now I totally get why DoD and the VA don’t want me, or anyone ever affiliated with U.S. national security, to get anywhere near marijuana, cannabis oil extract, hemp necklaces, patchouli, blacklight posters, or Wiz Khalifa songs.

Firing this civilian military professor for using CBD oil to help him deal with the effects of prostate cancer makes total sense now. So does Inception. Everything is so clear now.

After staring into a bowl of Lucky Charms for half an hour, I understand now why we don’t want our veterans using medical marijuana to help them overcome PTSD and recover from physical injuries. Veteran suicide and homelessness could become real problems!

No, no, my shih tzu is telling me they should stick to the medicine their doctors prescribe them, and I agree! Marijuana is just too dangerous!

Chemically altering your brain is bad, and DoD should hold the line on its current policies. Period. Now please excuse me, I have to catch a cigarette while the smoking lamp is lit, and XO ordered me to catch the sale on gallons of grain alcohol at the package store for the grog bowl at the ship’s Dining In tonight.

P.S. You know what I can’t stand? Anonymous writers taking pot shots at hard-working people (lol, sorry, terrible weed pun)! I’ll “come out” soon enough. Salty just has a few more things to say. Stay tuned!

Happy Anniversary, NAVFIT98

in Props

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

Wow. Just wow. I don’t even know where to begin. I want to take a moment to recognize our favorite software, NAVFIT98, the Navy’s truly unique program for creating individual performance evaluations (definitely NOT something a fillable PDF form could do!). I’ll let you guess what ‘98’ stands for. Yes, that’s right! 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of this revolutionary software’s release (and 22 years since it was developed). While so many unstable, “flash-in-the-pan” computer programs, like Windows and iTunes, have undergone update after update, NAVFIT98 has barely changed during its dominant 20-year run. The one update that added front page and back page tabs really was gutsy, but man, oh man, did it pay off in enhanced user experience. Well played!

Just to give you an idea of the magnitude of this achievement, I’ve compiled a list of things that happened after the Navy started using NAVFIT98 to document individual performance:

  • I got a driver’s license
  • Most of my sailors were born
  • We started a war in Afghanistan
  • Napster was conceived, released, sued, shut down, filed bankruptcy, acquired by Best Buy, merged with Rhapsody, and then rebranded back to Napster
  • Twelve versions of Microsoft Windows were released
  • Mark Zuckerberg went to his high school prom
  • Monica Lewinsky became a household name
  • LCS became a program of record
  • Colonel Joseph Dunford became a brigadier general
  • Commander John Richardson became a captain

This is even more impressive because NAVFIT98 has survived a nonstop barrage of negative feedback (FAKE NEWS) from whiny junior officers for two decades. “The comments and performance trait ratings are meaningless!” and “NAVFIT98 just creates busy work for raters to make sailors feel better about being ranked last!” Nonsense.

What’s really amazing is, amid all this criticism, the Navy has stayed the course not just with NAVFIT98, but with a personnel management system that prioritizes the most important attribute above all else . . . timing. The way the Navy uses NAVFIT98 to grade sailors with trait averages and promotion recommendations highlights the fact that a sailor’s time onboard a ship, or in a certain job, is more important than the sailor’s professional expertise, character, initiative, leadership, or any other form of merit. Now that’s what I call honor, courage, and commitment!

Thank goodness that despite growing calls for the Navy to abandon the “up-or-out” mentality, or to promote officers based on merit, NAVFIT98 keeps on trucking as a symbol of the Navy’s tried-and-true timing-based personnel management system. The Navy is acting quickly on pressures from Congress to reform personnel management in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Let’s hope our admirals can resist any congressional pressure to revamp its 20 year old software! Then again, Congress holds our admirals’ advancements in their hands, so we know how that goes! Hey, I wonder if they use NAVFIT98? 😊

Here’s to you, old software!

I Can’t Even

in Rants

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Naval Institute Blog here.

As a millennial, I am easily triggered. I often lack the emotional self-control to react appropriately to disturbing opinions or information, especially those that run contrary to my well-established worldview. As Captain Peter “UGH” Ryan so eloquently argued in his recent article “Technology: The New Addiction,” my addiction to my smartphone and social media have sapped my ability to handle the challenges of everyday adult life. In fact, he notes my egregious rate of personal technology usage (PTU) has made me more likely to commit suicide and beat my children (I must admit, I did not see any evidence of causality between PTU and these behaviors in his article, but I long ago lost the ability to think critically about the things I read online). So, you won’t be surprised to hear that I was uncontrollably outraged when I read the September 2018 USNI Newsletter email, titled “Dead Reckoning, Video Game Addiction, New Navy Uniforms, Ship to Shore: September 2018.”

First of all, Captain Ryan’s article is about technology addiction, not video game addiction. This may have been an innocent editorial mistake, but it comes across as tone deaf as your parents yelling “hip hop, doo wop, bee bop a loo bop, whatever it’s called, just turn it down!!” If video games were the problem, I think we’d need to look further back than my generation (and question why we’re integrating Xbox controllers into our combat systems). No, the problem is much broader, and Ryan argues convincingly that PTU has caused younger generations to become more isolated and less resilient. As a whiny snowflake, I understandably crumbled into a puddle of tears upon reading this assessment. Of course, now I have to question the wisdom of a commanding officer ordering his entire crew to join Twitter and follow the official command account, or the Navy relegating almost all engagement with families to Facebook. Hmmm . . . Captain Ryan goes on to lament that we youngsters prefer to be glued to our screens rather than interact with the opposite sex. I’ll bet this seems odd to older generations, so it must be bad, right? Perhaps there’s a concern of population decline? Come to think of it, whenever my ship hits port most sailors head straight to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot. Maybe we should go back to the days when sailors all headed to the nearest bar and other “establishments!” I bet that would improve our health!

Another article that flew straight over my technology-addicted, entitled head was Captain Dave Kurtz’s article “First Impressions of the Navy’s Test Working Uniform.” I particularly enjoyed this perspective from the generation that so marvelously has managed Navy uniforms for the past decade. His best point was his argument against the Navy’s stated intent to satisfy “a desire on the part of sailors having served less than ten years for an untucked uniform, as they wear their civilian clothes.” On a personal aside, I’ll have you know that, as a millennial, I refuse to follow your suffocating rules and tuck in my shirt under any circumstance, even in military uniform. I don’t respect the need to look presentable, ever. That’s just, like, your opinion, man. It’s the same reason we want beards, man buns, and uniforms that actually fit women (in decreasing order of likelihood). Returning to Kurtz, he argues that “majority rule is not the best route.” Well said. Then, in the very next sentence, he writes “As we can see from the pictures and comments on Navy Times . . .” Wait, what? Internet comment boards are not just majority rule, they are mob rule. Then again, Kurtz is not a millennial so he doesn’t spend 18 hours a day on the internet like I do, so he may not have realized that.

These articles reminded me of another nugget from our senior leaders: we’re not tough enough. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson tells sailors they need to get tough. The Commander of Naval Surface Forces issued a force-wide message titled “Toughness.” Fleet Forces Command even called out toughness in its comprehensive review of the USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) collisions. Then, in a follow-on internal review, the surface Navy found that only 16 percent of the most newly-qualified officers in the fleet could pass a basic skills test (I wonder how many commanding officers would pass the same unannounced test?). My issue is that “toughness” is being used a dog whistle to place blame on younger generations. Wait, I’ve got it! We’re all worthless and weak! But . . . why are we focusing on the individual toughness of our most junior officers and sailors as the problem? Isn’t it a symptom? Not that I know anything about toughness as a millennial, but I’ve heard it is the byproduct of a system, such as physical conditioning or team training. Maybe we need to focus on the system that produced those of us who lack toughness and competency? Maybe we need to critically examine the generation of leaders who were responsible for cultivating and developing that system? Maybe we shouldn’t take a report on two incidents that resulted in the deaths of 17 sailors, and PUT FREAKING ARTWORK ON THE COVER?!? Ah, who am I kidding? What do I know, I’m a millennial.

I need a safe space.

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