Most of the time when you hear this terminology it applies to personal finances. In this case I am talking about your worth to a team. Make no mistake, once you graduate the pipeline, you are still a liability to your team. You haven’t accomplished anything. You have earned yourself a cool hat and a shiny piece of metal for your forehead as well as the right to blouse your boots in blues. When your team gets a call for Civil SAR at three in the morning on a Saturday, odds are your element leader or team leader will NOT call you first. You are still a liability… A liability takes away the value of the sum of parts so by definition as a FNG you constantly need someone to watch you. An asset adds value to the sum of parts, but as a new guy how are you expected to do that?
So how do I become an asset?
First quickly and efficiently take care of your family. Once you check in at your unit the clock starts, and you are expected to house/apartment hunt and get your family taken care of in a set amount of time. Only after your family is taken care of can you truly focus on the tasks at work. One thing I did was took leave right after the apprentice course to house hunt prior to my PCS. This afforded me the opportunity to meet face to face with my realtor and get across what kind of property we were looking for. We didn’t find a house until two months later but because we met face to face, I had a realistic understanding of timelines and knew we would need an apartment in the short term.
Second, check your ego. Leave it at the door. I have spent most of my career repairing relationships between pararescue and support personnel and most of the time it is because of a FNG with a stick up his A**. But here is the harsh reality, everyone in the building at your unit has done more than you with their career. Yes, I mean everyone, even the support personnel. Take your time as a new guy to introduce yourself to everyone, remember names, and build rapport. Take out the trash for everyone (even if you’re not told to), this will get you face time with the commander, first sergeant, and chief. Even if they don’t say a word to you, they saw your face, and this is important. Help supply organize their warehouse. If you can get in good with them, you will have no shortage of good gear and your team will thank you for it.
Third, focus on the basics. Whenever you are not focused on a task given by a superior you should be training yourself to be better. Building ropes systems in the gym or grabbing another new guy and training your medicine are just some examples. I would suggest grabbing an element leader to tag along with your med training. Not only will this help him with his medicine it will show him that you are serious about improvement. One of your tasks during in processing is a mission evaluation. During your mission evaluation you are expected to perform, and pass based on your highest level of training. Lucky for you, your highest level of training is as a medic. So, most of the time you are being evaluated on your medicine. Additionally, they like to kill two birds with one stone and this counts as your med evaluation as well.
I will leave you with these three things for now. In summary, focus on the family, your attitude, and the basics. If your family is not good, then there is no way you are fit to train. Your attitude will tell everyone a lot about you. Endure the shit, so you can take on responsibility. The basics are never to be forgotten. Don’t just train to get it right, train so you can never get it wrong. Then add more stressors and do it again. Do it with your eyes closed or in the dark under NVG’s, red light, low light, no light, etc. The opportunities for training are endless so take advantage of them.
Ahh, one more thing, or PS or whatever the hell I’m supposed to say. If you fail your mission evaluation or med eval, which there is no excuse for btw, the first time isn’t too bad. You get paperwork to sign, you shake it off then you do it again. Generally, if you fail twice, say goodbye to your nice and shiny new hat. If you fail a third time… well… I hope you had fun being a PJ because “he aint gonna jump no more”. No, seriously, your supervisor will probably start the process to get you kicked out of pararescue and in all honesty, you deserve it.That is all, comment below if you have any questions.