ADHD and the Military – My Experience

One chapter in my book (8 selections) with Janice Hall Heck, ADHD: You’ve Got My 1 ADHD postcard front 8-26-19Attention is about my experience in the military.

Here’s an excerpt.

Military Training: Do As You’re Told!

“Five P’s Maxim: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”

Basic Military Training. Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX. 1976

Fresh start. Clean slate. New faces. Total strangers who knew nothing about my learning style, my sometimes socially awkward behavior, and my scattershot academic background. (Later in life, I was diagnosed as ADHD.)

6a. Bob in military300Basic training was tough. The TIs (training Instructors) took wildly different male and female recruits from all over the country and whipped us into efficient teams, all in eight weeks.

How did they do it? By giving orders and demanding absolute obedience.

On Day 1, our TI announced, “There’s only one way to do anything: the military way. Learn that and you’ll survive. Make your bed our way. Shine your shoes our way. Wear the clothes we give you . Get the same haircuts. Wake up at 4:45 am. Go to sleep at 9 pm. Exercise one hour a day. Attend training classes in the morning and afternoon. Report on time for every responsibility. Your life is not your own. You belong to the military.”

“Yes, Sir,” we chorused.

. . .

The taunting I’d endured in high school did not surface in basic training. I performed well. Direct instructions, well-established routines, and fear of failure and public humiliation kept me engaged. I kept my mind focused on my goal: emergency medical training.

. . .

S.T.O.P. and Think. Take Action.

Make friends and forge alliances. Stick with your buddies. Help them when they need it. They will return the favor when you need help.

Watch how successful recruits behave and work. Copy their style.

Pay attention to situations where other trainees receive criticism. Avoid making the mistakes they make.. . .

Do your work or assignments without complaining or dawdling.

Graduate from basic training and move on to your next learning experience.

P.S. I graduated from basic training, enrolled in advanced training, an eventually earned an X-ray Technician Certificate and an Emergency Medical Certificate while in the military. After the military, I enrolled in formal paramedic training, graduated, then became a paramedic, then a paramedic-firefighter. Later I enrolled in additional theology classes and after seventeen years of part-time study, I became an ordained chaplain. I have served at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, as well as at the scenes of a number of natural disasters (hurricanes, floods, wildfires) and man-made disasters (shootings in public places). The military gave me my start and put me on a path towards serving our country and fellow mankind in emergency services and chaplaincy. ADHD followed me throughout my career, but I learned to overcompensate for its annoyances and conquered my goals.

. . .

Here’s what other say about ADHD and the military.

C.H.A.D.D. (Children and Adults with ADHD)  ADHD and the Military 

ADDitude Magazine:     Does Uncle Sam Really Want You?

US    Can I Join the Military if I Suffer from ADHD

Bob Ossler and Janice Hall Heck ADHD: You’ve Got My Attention Strategies for Meeting Life’s Challenges




This entry was posted in A.D.D./A.D.H.D., attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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