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The Good Soldier

The Good Soldier

1297th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion
Havre de Grace, Maryland

As good Soldiers, we all want to meet or exceed the standards, including those for physical fitness. Unfortunately, as human beings, we sometimes get hurt. If the injury is bad enough, a physician issues a profile to refrain from regular physical fitness training until the individual has fully recovered. That usually works well, but all too often incidents such as the one I illustrate below do occur.

The weather conditions for the Army Physical Fitness Test weren’t the best on this particular day. The rain was coming down hard and it was quite chilly, but a handful of Soldiers needed to take the test as a prerequisite for school or promotion, so a postponement was out of the question. As a battalion headquarters, Soldiers from other subordinate units often joined us for an out-of-cycle APFT. One of those Soldiers had sustained a leg injury and been on profile for an extended period of time.

The push-up and sit-up portions of the test went well and most of the Soldiers got good scores. Everybody was remaining cheerful despite the lousy weather. After completing the first two phases of the test, we sat under a shelter, hoping for a break in the rain as the sergeant in charge briefed us on the two-mile course.

When the run started, I felt pretty good. I had been running a lot on my own to recover from an injury I had suffered about a year earlier, and even the rain didn’t bother me much. I paired up with a Soldier who I felt would challenge me and kept a solid pace for the first mile and a half. It was at this point that we noticed a Soldier who appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Nonetheless, he continued running.

After the run, I moved under the shelter to catch my breath and watch the rest of the runners finish. As the last few runners came in, I noticed the Soldier I had seen limping and in pain was still out. Concerned for his safety, I immediately informed the sergeant, who dispatched a van to trail and monitor the runner.

Though this Soldier was visibly in pain, he refused to quit. He was determined to complete the run. Even through his pain, he was proud of his achievement. He succeeded in completing the AFPT.

While this story stands as a shining example of Soldier perseverance, it’s also a good example of leadership failure. Leaders should know Soldiers will often strive to go above and beyond their physical capabilities. A key attribute of being a good leader is knowing when to tell that Soldier to slow down or cease altogether.

The Army’s current fitness standards include deferring the APFT up to 90 days so a Soldier can train and be given adequate time to heal before safely resuming normal activities. Poor leaders either do not understand these standards or simply disregard them and look down on the Soldier as being weak. They must learn that adhering to reconditioning programs not only reduces injuries, but often results in a stronger, more productive Soldier.

  • 1 May 2015
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 10158
  • Comments: 0