Who's responsible for morale, quality of life?

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. James Larocque
  • 56th Security Forces Squadron
In the last 27 years, I can't even remember how many times I've overheard discussions about morale or quality of life.

I've heard everything from official briefs at commander's calls to gripe sessions in the shop. The usual meat of the subject is that unit leadership is the key to high morale and good quality of life.

Not surprisingly, unit leadership normally takes a beating when there are issues in these areas.

Here is where I diverge from the accepted Air Force mindset on this. I honestly feel the only person controlling my morale and quality of life, is me!

The root of the confusion is that many people think their job should be a stress free and joyous endeavor. The reason it's called "work" is because it's not stress free, and it's a place you go to do things other people want you to do. That's the reason we're paid to work, because we wouldn't do it for free.

I feel morale and quality of life are about what you do when you're not working. I take every chance I get to talk about morale and quality of life to my young troops. I ask them about their plans for the next break, about their hobbies and what they do for fun. I really don't need to ask them how the job is going. They just got back from an eight-month deployment and can expect another one in a year.

During the summer, triple-digit temperatures are common — and there's typically no shade and not a cloud in the sky. Security is typically more rewarding and exciting when we are mixing it up with the bad guys, and they don't get to do that because of the great work we do day in and day out. Basically, I already know the job can be, hmm; how should I say this — less than desirable.

As a supervisor, I can do more for their morale and quality of life by encouraging and helping them to engage in rewarding off-duty activities than I can by trying to convince them that their job really isn't as bad as it may seem.

Luke Air Force Base is in an incredible location with a multitude of diverse activities to keep almost anyone as busy as they want to be. There's camping, hiking, fishing, off-road biking, rock climbing, boating, skydiving and hunting just to name a few, along with all the normal large-city indoor activities.

Drive west to Southern California or an hour east to the mountains. Several hours north is the Grand Canyon or Las Vegas. Just to the south is Mexico and Rocky Point. There's no shortage of things to do here — the only shortage is the time you have to do them.

Here's the bottom line — take control! It's your morale and it's your quality of life. If things seem to be working against you lately, maybe you just don't have the right attitude.

For me, I'm loving life. Work is work, but I'm always looking forward to what I'll be doing when I'm not working. It's those evenings, weekends, holidays, whenever — that I'm planning for.

My attitude is where it needs to be. How's yours?