Sick scores, not health

  • Published
  • By Airman Larissa Greatwood
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
When I was younger the thought of joining the military terrified me. When I was 16, my older brother joined the Air Force and I couldn't shake the fear I had of him being in a dangerous place. It wasn't until I turned 18 and all of my older brothers joined that I thought, "Maybe this is something I can do." I realized the fear I had was me just not knowing enough about the military lifestyle.

I talked to my brothers to understand what being in the military is like. They stressed to me at a younger age the importance of fitness in the military and how I needed to focus on that first.

I made physical fitness a big part in my life with my brothers' advice in mind. Before I joined I would spend a lot of time at the gym to stay healthy. Once I decided to join the Air Force I knew my fitness would be an advantage. What I didn't know was the full extent of the physical training requirements. Even after being in for more than a year, the finer points of Air Force Instruction 36-2905, specifically the part about what to do if you are sick before or during a test, were not clear to me ... until recently.

Working out or taking a physical training test is never a good idea when you are sick or injured. The test is an examination of our physical capability and ensures we can maintain a standard fitness level and protect our wingmen if needed. When you aren't feeling well, you are not at your greatest and are not able to show what you are truly capable of. When the instructors ask if there is anyone who feels they cannot complete the test, even if it's minor, don't be afraid to speak up.

Because I didn't understand, I tested while I was sick and failed the situp portion of my test.

Fitness is always part of my routine in the Air Force, but like most, when I know I have a test coming up, I push a little harder and make sure I am fully prepared. Before my last test I was able to do more situps and pushups than I ever have and lowered my run time more than it has been since basic training. I felt very confident about taking my test.

I remember driving to work and feeling great the morning of the test. Usually I feel nauseated from the nerves, but not this time.

It wasn't until I completed the pushup portion, that I began to feel sick. At this point, I should have said something. I should have let them know I was feeling sick. I didn't know enough about the process and got bad advice from "barracks lawyers" (misinformed young Airmen giving out advice). Because of that, I didn't let the instructors know I was feeling ill and wasn't able to do what I know I can do. So I continued the test.

I learned the hard way that trying to push through my illness was not the best course of action. I ended up even more sick in the end and faced other consequences.

It is critical for us as military members to take care of ourselves. If we don't, we may not be able to perform when we are needed to, and that could put lives in danger. I want the Airman sitting next to me to be able to drag me out of a combat zone if need be, and I expect myself to be capable of doing the same.