Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A day in the life of a first sergeant

This was obviously not written by an Army 1SG, but the gist is the same.  This is what we're about to get into...

I AM A FIRST SERGEANT.  My job is people -- Every One is My Business. I dedicate my time and energy to their needs; their health, morale, discipline, and welfare. I grow in strength by strengthening my people. My job is done in faith; my people build faith.  My job is people --  
That's the first sergeant's creed. That's what he or she strives for, every day. There are no enlisted personnel in the military with more authority, more responsibility, and a downright busier day than a first sergeant (Leading Chief Petty Officer in the Navy).  
Some of the "complaints" a first sergeant hears most often are "I can never get hold of you," (untrue, as all "shirts" or "tops" carry a beeper or cell-phone with them 24 hours per day, 7 days per week), or "You're never in your office," (true, because a good first sergeant is out and about, being the eyes, ears, and mouth for the commander).  
Let's walk a day in his/her shoes:  
0230: The phone rings, jarring you from a too-short sleep, just when you had settled into that deserted tropical island in your dreams -- the favorite dream where it was just you, the beach, and no phones or pagers. You pick up the phone. It's the Security Police (Military Police) Desk. They're very sorry to disturb you (not really!), but they just picked up one of your troops on a drunk & disorderly, and minor in possession charge. It seems that the rocket-scientist thought it would be a lot of fun to streak around the barracks wearing just his girlfriend's panties. Unfortunately for him, his girlfriend didn't think it was funny, and locked him out of his room. (Editor's note: This scenario really happened -- Edwards AFB, 1987).  
After grumbling that you'll be right there, you call the individual's supervisor to request that he meet you at the cop-shop. The supervisor responds that he really doesn't want to, as he has to be at work at 0700, and he got to bed late. Because you haven't had your first cup of coffee yet, you convince the supervisor, via a one-way-conversation that it would be advisable not only to meet you there, but to beat you there, as well.  
You start the coffee, do a quick shave while the coffee is perking and put on your uniform. Although the phone call did not wake up your spouse (he/she has learned to sleep through them), you don't bother leaving a note. Your spouse knows, from long experience, where you've gone.  
0300: You arrive at the cop-shop and meet the supervisor. You and the supervisor get briefed by the apprehending officer about the situation. You read a copy of the police report, and sign custody for the brain trust. You turn him over to the supervisor with instructions to make sure he gets to the dorm, into his room, and put to bed. You tell the supervisor you'll call him later in the morning with more instructions.  
0330: You're up, you're dressed, so you figure you'll sneak into the office to catch up with some badly neglected paperwork.  
0500: You're in the middle of reviewing performance reports, promotion rosters, decoration submissions, general correspondence, reenlistment recommendations, detail rosters, and other pieces of dead trees when your pager lets out a shriek. It's the Red Cross. Like always with the Red Cross, it's not good news: The father of one of your troops has passed away.
You call the supervisor at home and tell her about the situation. You inform her that you will notify the individual, and let her know about any emergency leave plans. You get into your car and drive to the individual's base housing unit. Fortunately, this turns out to be one of the "easier" situations. The individual has been in touch with his family and is already aware of the death. You express your condolences, and tell him and his family that you, the commander, and the unit are at their disposal for anything at all that you can do. You explain the emergency leave procedures, and ask him if he plans to travel home. The answer is yes, so you call your chief clerk and ask her to come in a begin preparing emergency leave paperwork. You inform the individual that the paperwork should be ready by the time he gets into the unit.  
0600: You stop by the Chow Hall to get something for breakfast, and to do a "periodic check" on the quality of food being supplied to your people. After filling your tray (fruit and toast -- you're not getting any younger, and running off those extra pounds is getting harder and harder each day), you find a table that some of your troops are sitting at. For the next 45 minutes you sit and chat with them about this, that, and everything, giving advice and answering questions about regulations, policy, pay, leave, work hours, etc.  
0700: You arrive back at the unit and proceed to the commander's office to brief him on the morning's events. The commander decides to go with an Article 15 for the drunk streaker. On the way out, you stop by the commander's secretary to make an appointment for tomorrow with the commander for you, the supervisor, and the individual concerned to begin the Article 15 process (the whole process will actually take three separate meetings, spaced out over five or six days).  
0730: You return to your office and sign the emergency leave paperwork. You telephone the legal office and instruct them to prepare the Article 15 paperwork. You then telephone the folks at the Drug & Alcohol center and make a referral appointment for the brain-trust. You call the supervisor to let him know about tomorrow's appointment and the appointment for the alcohol abuse referral. You call the supervisor of the individual going on emergency leave, and let her know about the individual's plans. You then instruct your chief clerk to make sure she picks up the Article 15 paperwork. from the legal office later in the day.  
0805: You arrive at the NCO Club for the weekly first sergeant meeting. As usual, you're a few minutes late due to the morning's events, but then again, so are several other "shirts." For the 90 minutes, you receive briefings from the Command Chief Master Sergeant (Command Sergeant Major), the legal office, personnel office, family advocacy office, etc., ad infidium, about the latest changes to various programs.  
0930: You swing by the barracks to let your "dormitory manager" know that you and the commander plan to do an inspection this Friday. You go over the problems found on the last inspection, and request that he take special care to make sure the commander doesn't see these same problems again. While you are there, you take a quick walk-through of the common areas, and talk to the folks who have been detailed for barracks cleanup this week.  
1000: Your schedule is open for an hour, so you pick one of the duty sections to "drop by" on. While there, you talk to the supervisors and the troops about this and that, various policies, various programs, etc. While speaking, however, you examine each and every face. You're always on the lookout for potential problems that can be nicked in the bud before they blow up. Finally, before leaving, you speak to the section supervisor about any particular problem areas in the duty section.  
1100: Time for lunch at the NCO Club. Not a normal lunch, however. This is the quarterly luncheon for the Airman/Soldier/Sailor of the Quarter program. You sit through the lunch, the speeches, and the announcement of the winners. None of your folks have won this time. But, when they do win, it makes the boring quarterly luncheons all worthwhile.  
1230: You attend a family advocacy committee meeting about one of your troops who was involved in a domestic situation the past week. The family advocacy investigation has determined that a "minor" incident did occur. The committee recommends whatever disciplinary action the commander finds appropriate, and attendance at the anger management classes. You approve the recommendations and make a note to talk with the commander about disciplinary action (probably a Letter or Reprimand in this particular case -- more "paperwork." you will have to prepare later).  
1330: Back at the office. You try to leave a couple of hours open each afternoon in the office so your clerk can fill it with appointments. Until 1500, you're "booked" with various individuals who want/need to see you. You talk with folks about their dependent care plans, financial management (you even show one two-striper how to balance a checkbook), Professional Military Education, "minor disciplinary problems (i.e. a "chewing out"), weight-control program entries, dependent-support problems, domestic situations, off-duty employment applications, cross-training opportunities, reenlisting......pretty much everything the military has "invented" over the past 200 years.  
1500: Commander's Staff Meeting. All Senior NCOs and officers meet to brief the commander on what's going on in the unit. You impart the applicable information you obtained at the first sergeant's meeting.  
1600: Your beeper goes off again. This time it's good news. The folks at personnel have the promotion listing for promotions to E-6. You have seven people on the list. You quickly drive over to personnel to pick up the listing. Upon returning to your office, you examine the list to make sure there isn’t anyone there who the commander may want to "redline." You call the various supervisors and tell them to keep the individuals around the duty-section, using one excuse or another.  You reach into the bottom of your desk drawer and take out seven sets of E-6 stripes (you always keep extra stripes there).  
1630: You and the commander visit the applicable duty sections and give out the promotions. It's always good when you can end the day on a positive note.  
1730: Final daily meeting with the commander. You discuss the day's events and reach a consensus for items requiring additional attention. The commander agrees with your recommendation for a Letter of Reprimand for the domestic case. You make a note to yourself to prepare a letter of reprimand in the morning.  
1830: A quick trip to the gym. After all, you don't want to have to put yourself on the weight control program. 30 minutes on the "Stair-Master" then 15 minutes of steam.  
1900: Super! It's just 1900 and the day is done! Your spouse is going to be happy that you come home at a "decent" hour, for a change. You get into your car and check out your pocket calendar for tomorrow's schedule. Oh, no! You forgot about the Unit Softball Game, starting right now. You rush to the field and lend your support with the other "fans." 30 minutes after the start of the game, your spouse arrives with a little KFC. As you and your spouse sit there, watching your unit win its way to victory, KFC-juice on your fingers, the world isn't so hectic anymore.  
2200: Time for bed. It's been a long, long day (as usual). Hopefully, tomorrow will be shorter. You don't need any sheep to fall deeply into sleep and bring back that image of the deserted island......just you, no phones, no beepers.......Suddenly, the telephone rings......

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