The unpredictable life

  • Published
  • By Capt. Darwyn Klatt
  • Chief, Strategy & Process Improvement
One of the things I love most about the Air Force is the unpredictability and changing nature of the career. We move to new places, tackle new jobs and new challenges, meet new commanders and co-workers and always look ahead to something different.
This lack of rigorous structure has been my motivation for the past 10 years of military service.

Recently, I have dealt with unpredictability in a different, more frustrating way. After experiencing symptoms of vertigo, I was taken off flying status pending a medical review board in San Antonio.

The process of making appointments, going TDY to Brooks City-Base, Texas, answering endless questions about my health history and waiting for the next step has been a challenge.

One result of this waiting game was a change in my duty position and office. When symptoms first appeared, I was a flight commander in the 33rd Flying Training Squadron teaching students how to fly the T-6. That image of the future has changed dramatically. Being unable to fly for more than four months forced changes I did not have in mind.

A Vance leader recently pointed out that change is the only constant we can rely on in the military, or in life for that matter. Those who are unable or unwilling to embrace change tend to falter and fall behind, realizing too late that only through constantly reinventing ourselves can we keep up with the demands of life and succeed.

Embracing the change of an altered and unknowable future has its pros and cons. On one hand, I am quite used to shuffling around, using new tools and parking in new parking lots. On the other hand, when the change is potentially career altering, it causes anxiety that must be faced.

I know there are many who have suffered extreme change and altered career choices. I vividly recall flying a medical evacuation mission in my C-17 from Iraq to Germany. In the cargo hold were two Army Soldiers who were badly wounded. One was stable and going to live. The other had life-threatening injuries which made each minute a marathon on our journey to Ramstein AB, Germany.

It is hard for me to imagine what those two soldiers had to deal with as their stretchers were off-loaded from the aircraft to waiting doctors. Mere hours earlier they had plans, ambitions, hopes and dreams. Now their futures were being rewritten in a way they could never have imagined. That is dealing with change in a severe way.

My time waiting here at Vance will never measure up to the challenges those two soldiers endured, no matter how unpredictable or full of change it may be. It makes my day go by just a little easier when I remember the life-altering changes some have had to deal with.

If change is the only constant, then keeping that change in perspective is the only way to surmount the challenge and succeed.