My son has been in the navy since 11/10. He has been on his sub since 10/11. He has not got his dolphins yet, still qualifying. They are set to deploy some time this summer. He is questioning his decision to join and is thinking about separating. I know this is a tense and difficult time. He is exhausted in every way. Has anyone else dealt with this?
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hey tobermorey, my son is in bc his pir is friday. he is going to ct for A school and i think he too has changed his mind he has been talking with his RDC (?) about changing but no luck last I heard. I was told that to be on a sub is a volunteer thing they can't force the issue some are just not cut out for it. you know life is very short to be miserable on the one hand but on the other they have made a commitment. i told my son to make the best of it now that you are in.
Hard to tell what issue(s) is/are from short post. It would be very early to have dolphins already, for what that is worth.
Basically though, the basics of his disillusionment are very, very common in almost all areas of the Navy, submarine or surface. Way less than half will reenlist; for very understandable reasons if you've experienced it yourself. The key thing is how they deal with the disillusionment, and take away the positives, and still develop professionally and maturity-wise. The experience will improve with time, and there still are and will be good times, and feelings of accomplishment.
BTW - I assumed that in saying he was "thinking about separating", that that wasn't exactly what was said, because as others have said, you can't just separate before your enlistment is up. If someone fails three straight PRTs (physical readiness test), they will now get separated under honorable conditions, but you have to be in a little longer to be in that position. If he is literally "thinking about separating", there has to be more to the story.
I really don't know if he can just decide to separate!! He did sign a contract and unless he has a medical or emotional excuse, I don't think they will just let him out. If he separates with a dishonorable discharge, it will follow him all the way through his life when it comes to getting credit, jobs, etc.
My sailor has had times when he was very dissatisfied with being in the Navy, but has only once said something to the effect of getting out. It was a bad time for his entire boat.
When he has these negative times, I just remind him that everyone has times when they feel like this. Even if he were to leave the Navy he would have these feelings from time to time.
It is tough on them before they get their dolphins. They have to work hard all the time which is different from the qualified Submariners. It does get easier once they are qualified, and he is fairly new to his boat, so hasn't made a lot of friends yet (more than likely).
Your job is to be positive while listening to his complaints. Keep reminding him how proud you are of him making the decision to join the Navy. Remind him also that all new jobs are very rough at first. I used to ask my sailor what he was going to do if he got out of the Navy. Jobs are hard to find these days. And things do get better as time passes. He needs to remain focused on the goal he has (getting qualified) and not take things to heart too much when he hears negative things from his crew members. He can accomplish so many things in the Navy if he keeps working and looking forward.
My son has been in for 5.5 years now and has received several awards and promotions where he never had many positive experiences during his school years. (In fact he hated anyone who was an authority figure in his life.) He finally realized that he needed the structure and once he got used to being the new guy, he found his niche. He still has bad days or weeks now and again, but they are much less than the good ones.
I hope your sailor will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and things will work out for him. Best of luck to you too. Hope this helps you
Until he has his dolphins he may not be able to stand watch alone and his section has to double up in some cases until he gets them. There is a lot of pressure to get through this and to qualify. Once he has completed that, it should get much better. If he is going "slow" in qualifying they are probably making his life miserable in the hope to motivate him to get qualified ( I know that is flawed logic). I can remember my husband having to stand 12-14 hour watches because they were Port and STBD until someone else qualified. A very unhappy time for everyone. If that's the case then he really needs to put a push to get it done. He just needs to get through it and work with his chief to figure out how to learn what he needs to and to show he's really working at it. If he's been on the ship or 8 months then he may be going slower than what they need in qualifying ( I think they expect you to have made good progress towards dolphins within the first 6 months if he's a forward guy, and about 1 year for the nukes) and others are having to pay the price of longer duty days. Best thing you can do is be encouraging, and to suggest he talk to the division Chief for extra help or to see if there is someone who can help tutor him, or find the route cause of the problem... such as his having to much other duty cleaning or working at the shipyard to qualify. As to submarines, I still firmly believe that it's the best of the Navy. The best training, the best pay, the best food and jobs. All a mom can do is listen. As to separating, didn't he sign a multi 4-5 year contract?
Thanks to all for the feedback! The situation with my son seems to be not just his issue, but a morale problem on his boat. They are underway now, (months delayed) but are having problems with equipment breakdowns etc .His sub is a fast attack on the older side. They were supposed to go out on deployment in June but were not ready. I'm not sure when they will deploy, but right now they are waaaaay behind schedule. That only adds to the pressure coming from above. There was an attempted suicide and an actual suicide on his boat last month. That also set the schedule for the underway back. It makes me wonder why issues are not being addressed. Obviously something is going on. Morale is very low. They have been on an underway for almost 5 weeks now and I am hoping it has helped the crew pull together and see their ultimate goal. I spoke with my son 2 weeks ago and he still feels very down. He is ahead on his 'quals, so that is not an issue. I am wondering if he were on a different sub if it would be better? He also hasn't had any time off since December. I think that is contributing. I had hoped that once they deployed, and he got to see different parts of the world, it would help. Now I would just like for him to be able to fulfill his commitment. He is having panic attacks and nightmares. This is nothing he has ever had in the past. He is normally a very positive, happy guy. Is anyone else dealing with this?
I believe that mom's are their son's dumping ground. Continue your encouragement! Many times it is very frustrating to only hear the negative side of things, but continue to be strong and positive. These guys are young and in very stressful positions no matter what part of the sub they are on. Many are working extremely long hours between qualifying, standing watch, maintenance, and all other duties. All subs will have their own set of issues. He might be lucky on another boat...but consider your own job experiences. It doesn't take but one person to make an 8 hour job seem like forever, and every job I have ever held had at least one of these people...the difference...I could leave and go home for the other 16 hours. Your boy when out to sea is with these people 24/7. Again give them positive encouragement, keep them as upbeat as you can and encourage him to find a person he can trust and talk to.
thanks Pat, reading your comment helps to re enforce what i know i must do.