Remote Experience A remote to Clear Air Station, Alaska gave me new respect for my family and an understanding of the great sacrifice military members experience. I feel this assignment gave me an insight into how much I really depend on my families support and trust in their decisions. I believe to become a successful leader one needs an understanding of the sacrifices which might be required by our subordinates, and time away from a loved one is one of our most demanding. A remote is an assignment to an area with no facilities for family members. It is at least a year long with an opportunity to take a vacation at the six month point.
One area that took a while to get used to is the attitudes of the various personnel stationed at the site. Everyone is in a similar situation but each individual reacts differently to it. Most try to make the best of it, while others tend to dwell on their loved ones or are bitter about being put in such a bad situation. This is one assignment where the people you live and work with have a direct impact on site morale. When I was first notified of this assignment I thought it would be fun to be able to act like a single irresponsible and carefree person. I had visions of getting off work and going out to party, then coming home to my room and watching television until I fell asleep. This was exactly what it was like, only after a couple of months it was not fun anymore.
I began to miss the company of my wife and children, ironic since when I was there I kept to myself and tried to find solitude every chance I got. I made a decision, when I was done with this remote I would change the way I used to be and spend more time with my family. Chavez 2 At about the middle point in my tour I realized my wife Teresa deserved more credit than I gave her. She took care of the children, paid the bills, managed the household, and never once complained to me about the situation. My oldest son Mark, seven years old, took on the responsibility of being the man of the house. This really didn’t consist of much, but I think my son felt he needed to show Dad he could take my place and in the process grew up too fast.
To this day he still disciplines his younger sister for staying out late or talking on the phone too long. One day my six year old daughter Valerie came down with a fever and a searing pain in her left side. My wife decided to take her to the emergency room. The doctor’s determined her appendix was close to rupturing and she needed surgery immediately. Teresa called me from the hospital and explained the situation. I felt so helpless, all I could do was sit in my small lonely room thinking about all the possible outcomes. Thank God the surgery was a success, but it was a couple of days I could have done without. I received a commendation medal after leaving Alaska, but in my mind the courage and dedication of my wife and two children deserved the medal; for without their loving support I could not of given 100 percent to my job. This leads to my belief one does not really have an idea of the many sacrifices required to go on a remote assignment, but must experience it firsthand.
I saw at least three marriages turn to bitter divorce as a result of that assignment. Either the military member or spouse could not spend a year without jealousy, whether warranted or not, finding its way into an already difficult situation. I am reminded of the night I got off shift, went to my small cold room and had to listen to at least 8 excruciating hours of the song “My Achey Breaky [sic] Heart”; because my Chavez 3 neighbors girlfriend had broken up with him and would not accept his phone calls. In this situation, I had learned by then, it was best to let him blow off some steam with a little noise. Suicide attempts where fairly common because of situations like this, but thankfully they are mostly for attention. My experience taught me much about myself, my family, and military profession. I regret some of the things I missed while gone, but think if I had not been given that assignment I would have missed out on those things anyway (given the way I used to behave). I believe, at least in my case, you do not realize what you have until it is missing.