Free at Last!

I am sorry to inflict this upon you but I need to share it.

Today, I took my last fitness assessment test for the military. I passed. I am thoroughly relieved. I can now work on separation without the Sword of Damocles hanging over my head.

The physical fitness requirements for military service were by far the most onerous part of my service. They are also the primary reason I am leaving the service. I came into the military at 53 years of age and had to train with 20+ year olds for my entire four years. I was a SLUG as a civilian and never was taught or learned how to become fit in a way more appropriate for an aging man than a young stud. As a result, I continued to struggle with my fitness tests. I would fail at times, barely pass at other times and only once actually passed with flying colors.

However, the penalty for this training without the benefit of a personal trainer who knew how to work with older folks was physical pain. I have knees that no longer work. I cannot walk up or down stairs without pain and cannot walk moderate distances on the flat. I have similar problems with a shoulder. I really wish my training program had been designed and implemented with me by a professional invested in my personal success.

In a very real way, I feel like I failed at my military “career”. Even though I was recruited for my ability to practice medicine, it often seemed to me that the military cared more about whether I could pass a fitness test rather than my ability to deliver high quality medical care. In time this resentment may pass and my perspective may mellow. Right now, though, it is a sore point with me.

I am glad I can spend the last weeks of my time in the military not worrying about having to re-test in 12 weeks. I am free now to focus my energies on other things to complete before separation. I am free to practice medicine without the distraction of push-ups, sit-ups and running times constantly on my mind.

“Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last!”

About Michael Therrien

Physician, teacher, administrator, military officer -- and a few other roles just thrown in to make it interesting!
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