- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki, I don’t mean to be unprofessional or disrespectful to you. I’m asking you in advance to forgive my tone.

I am sick of my funky co-workers who walk around and strut their stuff just because they have more rank than other people. Let me be more specific; it’s the lieutenants, the second lieutenant and first lieutenant. They have lost their minds.

They walk around trying to shove people around like they know what they are doing, but they don’t. Officers are allowed to do whatever they want to do, and no one says anything about it. Think for a minute about what happened at Fort Hood, Texas. The suspect is an officer, a doctor who was allowed to say whatever he wanted to say and do whatever he wanted to do, and nobody said or did anything.

I’m not saying these young officers will do the same thing, but who knows? They are starting out acting like they may be psychotic.

I’m a sergeant first class, and I have more time and experience than any of these young officers. If I complain, however, I could get in trouble from my boss. I love the Army, and I have accomplished a lot, but I’m tired of seeing so much unfairness toward others in the units.

Many people simply shut up and “keep it moving.” They keep their mouths closed, make promotions and get a permanent change of station (PCS) to another duty station. They leave problems unsolved and get the same problems and new ones at the next duty station.

Should I keep my mouth closed or speak out? Is this really my problem? I only have six more years, and I can retire.

- An SFC for Fairness

Dear SFC,

Hmm, let’s see. You’re asking if you should keep your mouth closed and not speak out against unfairness? Well, I think everyone should speak out for what’s right.

Here’s the deal, though. You have to remember to pick your battles. Only you can decide if this is a battle you want to fight within your unit. You report that you could face reprisal if you speak out against the lieutenants.

You also compared this situation to the shootings at Fort Hood. This is where I am not following you. I see this as something totally different.

Listen, you can discuss this unfairness through your chain of command. You can file an equal-opportunity complaint, and you also can file an inspector general complaint, but I would try to work this through my chain of command first.

The other choice would be to do what others have chosen to do. Say nothing, get promoted, PCS when ordered and retire. I wish you only success. Let me know what you decide to do.

Hi Ms. Vicki,

I want to run something by you. I’m a Marine, and I’m engaged to a cheerleader for a professional football team. She is the love of my life, but she is refusing to become part of the military culture. When I try to invite her places to meet friends in my unit, she refuses.

She says she loves me and will marry me, but she does not understand the military and therefore keeps it separate from her life.

Second, she wants a prenuptial agreement to protect her family’s assets. She comes from a family of means, and her parents are insisting that she do this.

I don’t think her family likes me very much. I know they don’t think I’m good enough for their daughter and that I don’t have enough going for me. They think she can do better.

I’m not focusing on all of that right now, I’m just wondering if I should get a prenup, too. I’m not a millionaire or anything, but I want to protect what I have.

We are supposed to have a Valentine’s Day wedding next year, and then I’m headed to Afghanistan shortly afterward. One of my friends said you helped him with a problem, so any advice you could give me would be helpful.

- A Marine’s Decision

Dear Marine,

I just think there is more to this story. Your fiancee wants a prenuptial agreement, so you want to get one for you, too. Why the “tit for tat”?

I have other concerns about your situation. You are getting married right before you deploy, and your fiancee’s family doesn’t think you are good enough to marry their daughter.

My professional advice is for you and your fiancee to wait awhile before you get married. My gut says you need to get to know each other better before you get married.

You both could benefit from premarital counseling. Many young people believe such counseling is designed to break the couple apart or talk them out of marrying. However, the purpose is to enlighten, to enhance and to help strengthen the bond between the couple.

Oh, and one more question. Why did you have to mention your fiancee’s job? What does that have to do with anything? I don’t know, but I think the bigger issue is your upcoming deployment and your being ready and focused for this big mission and endeavor.

Again, I would postpone the wedding and seek premarital counseling. It would be invaluable. Stay in touch and take care of yourself.

Reader response:

• I just wanted to say you left something out in your advice to the young lady who can’t decide whether her boyfriend is the right one for her (Nov. 15). You should have told her to focus not only on her professional self, but on her personal self.

This young lady shared a zillion concerns about her boyfriend, whom she says she loves, but she is not thinking about the implications of having sex with a man who obviously is not on the same page as she is. She said she is not ready to be a mother. She says he has not mentioned wanting to marry her.

Why is she having sex? Why do our young men and women not respect one another more? Respect seems to have gone out the window in today’s world. It matters not that this couple, or any other, for that matter are using protection, love each other, etc. Without respect for oneself and the other party in a relationship, that relationship runs the risk of being doomed, either in the short term or most often the long term.

Please help me in getting this very important message out there. - Fran VanBrocklin, Olney, Md.

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Her column runs in The Washington Times on Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at dearms vicki@yahoo.com.

You can file an equal-opportunity complaint, and you also can file an inspector general complaint, but I would try to work this through my chain of command first.

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