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How do I help a Soldier who is distracted by responsibilities at home?

I have a Soldier who is a distraction to the platoon because he is constantly away from work for appointments. His wife is in a wheelchair and can't take care of their child. What can I do?

The comprehensive guide to the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP)

The command can direct the Soldier to implement a Family Care Plan IAW AR 600-20, pg 39 para 5-5 b(2) which reads in part:

A Soldier who has no spouse; is divorced, widowed, or separated, or is residing apart from his or her spouse; who has joint or full legal and physical custody of one or more Family members under the age of 19; or who has adult Family members incapable of self-care regardless of age.”

Notice the last condition “has an adult Family member incapable of self care.” This provides the chain of command the ability to implement a family care plan that the Soldier must be capable of implementing so that they can perform their duties.

Should the individual not implement the Family Care plan, the command can initate separation action. Alternatively, the Soldier has the option to request separation.

Since this is a sensitive issue I would encourage you to look at this with empathy. First, is the Soldier a good Soldier? Are they doing their best to try and make this work so they can perform their duties? If so, I suggest having a positive professional discussion that shows you care about them but also tells them that they must work to find a solution to their problem. This conversation should include the requirement for a family care plan. If the Soldier cannot produce an adequate care plan they should be considered for separation.

Discuss this issue with the chain of command. Specifically, you and your platoon leader should discuss this with the 1SG and CDR because the CDR will have to direct the Family Care Plan. It is very important that you treat this Soldier with respect and dignity while solving this problem. The best way to do this in my experience is to place yourself in his position and think through the issue. This method helps you look at the issue from both sides.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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    Comments

  • Part-Time-Commander

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    Yes, we should use empathy when dealing with our Soldiers, but we also have to worry about the “impression” it creates with our other Soldiers. If one Soldier is always away from work, and “gets lots of time off to take care of family appointments, it can negatively impact morale in the unit.

    At a minimum, have the Soldier create a Family Care Plan. You should also sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with the Soldier to see if there is a creative way to resolve the problem. If nothing can fix the situation, consider separating the Soldier. That might be the best thing to do for your Soldier and for the Army!

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