February 22, 2020, 03:47:26 pm

First-Year Member - Frustrated

Started by Exosphere, February 13, 2020, 03:48:27 pm

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Exosphere

I joined CAP almost one year ago as a Senior Member and have been quite frustrated with the organization.  I have spent many, many hours taking the Officer Basic Course and various other professional development courses, attending meetings, maintaining communication with the Squadron, and volunteering my time and energy to help with various aspects of operations.  I have still not been assigned a job or any task really, and attending the meetings are mainly just socialization with the few other members who attend or parents waiting for their cadet to be finished.  I have spoken to the Squadron Commander about helping more multiple times, but nothing ever comes of it.  I feel that I have spent a lot of time and energy on the organization, but the organization has not reciprocated by putting me to good use or following through on my desire to do more.  It has been almost a year since my CAPF 2 has been submitted and apparently someone at Group and/or Wing is not doing their job and the application has not been approved (I'm not the only one in this situation).  I'm not in it for the rank, but I would like to see that the organization does its part of recognizing volunteers who do their part.  I earned a ribbon for completing Level I and I had to buy it myself; there was no recognition (apparently there is no recognition for senior members' achievements at this Squadron).  I can't complete Level II because I haven't been assigned a job and I don't know if all the time I've put in will count once I finally do.  I do have a lot of respect for the Squadron Commander, and feel he's doing his best with what he has, but I don't know what to do.  I am due to renew soon and all I feel CAP has done is waste my time both in meetings and at home.  What am I missing here?

vorteks

You've spent a year checking it out and it doesn't sound like you have any other ties to the org (eg kids in the program). Things aren't going to change for you. Honestly at this point I would let your membership lapse and move on or you'll always be frustrated.

Larry Mangum

Are there other units near you. Please do not judge all of CAP, by one unit. Some units are very organized and others are not. Some are active in Emergency Services and others in Communications or Cadet Programs. Some are flying clubs, unfortunately.  Visit other units and see, if you can find one that will utilize the your skills and desire to be an active participant.
Larry Mangum, Lt Col CAP
SWR-SWR-001

Eclipse

Time to find a new squadron, yours is clearly failing, if not generally, then you,
and it's not going to change soon.  You're experiencing what CAP actually is, and
what it is first and foremost is local, some units are great, some station keep,
some barely have their doors open. It's no different then any other volunteer
organization where people are allowed to self-actualize.

This is why retention and annual churn are so high.

As to decs and other awards, everyone buys their own ribbons, though agreed their should be more recognition.

You're in SER, one of the most active Regions in CAP, if you can't find something that interests
you there, CAP is not for you.  If there's no reasonably close units, look to Group, Wing, or
special activities, or concentrate on ES activities and ignore the unit. Go to NESA and get your
Ground, Crew, or ICS rating(s) and you'll be plenty busy and never go to a meeting.



Exosphere

@vorteks Thank you for your post.  It is reasonable advice.  I'm curious if you faced a similar experience and stuck it out, or if your experience was much better from the start.  It seems many seniors have experiences similar to mine and I would hope the organization would address them, rather than allow them to perpetuate for decades.

@Larry Mangum Thank you for your post.  I know I should probably look into another unit, but the next closest ones are over an hour away.  My current Squadron is focused on the Cadet Program, which was one of the reasons I wanted to join, as I have a background in education and JROTC, as well as a doctorate in a STEM field.  I love what CAP stands for, and have been wanting to become involved for a long time.  Sadly, the reality appears much more complicated.  For the first several months after I joined, I was extremely motivated and took my training into my own hands and completed everything I could do on my own, even without being asked.  I even started studying for the Yeager Exam.  Then, I hit a wall, because my involvement/advancement was being stalled by factors I could not control.  And, it became a waiting game.  Of course, I followed up several times, but to no avail.  So, here I am.

@Eclipse Thank you for your post.  I understand that this is an issue throughout CAP.  Why it is left to continue widespread for so long, I can't understand.  I have been involved with numerous volunteer organizations in the past, including starting and running units and chapters, so I know what they can be (both the good and bad).  When I joined, I expressed interest in ES and CP, but have not received active support in either.  I will look into NESA and the other options you listed.  If there are more opportunities there, I may try for another year.

vorteks

Quote from: Exosphere on February 13, 2020, 05:28:38 pm@vorteks Thank you for your post.  It is reasonable advice.  I'm curious if you faced a similar experience and stuck it out, or if your experience was much better from the start.  It seems many seniors have experiences similar to mine and I would hope the organization would address them, rather than allow them to perpetuate for decades.

The issues you mentioned exist all over CAP to varying degrees - it's not just your unit or even your wing, it's how things are. If after a whole year you're just frustrated and unfulfilled, what's the point of sticking it out? Seriously there's no payoff. Good on ya for trying this one, but now find another org where you feel your valuable time is going to be put to good use. CAP isn't for everyone.

Holding Pattern

Quote from: Exosphere on February 13, 2020, 05:28:38 pm@Larry Mangum Thank you for your post.  I know I should probably look into another unit, but the next closest ones are over an hour away.  My current Squadron is focused on the Cadet Program, which was one of the reasons I wanted to join, as I have a background in education and JROTC, as well as a doctorate in a STEM field.  I love what CAP stands for, and have been wanting to become involved for a long time.  Sadly, the reality appears much more complicated.  For the first several months after I joined, I was extremely motivated and took my training into my own hands and completed everything I could do on my own, even without being asked.  I even started studying for the Yeager Exam.  Then, I hit a wall, because my involvement/advancement was being stalled by factors I could not control.  And, it became a waiting game.  Of course, I followed up several times, but to no avail.  So, here I am.


FWIW, it was about Month 18 that I really was engaged by the squadron in regular CAP activities; though for months 1-18 I had volunteered to become a cyberpatriot coach and that kept me plenty busy outside the "normal" CAP curriculum in 2013.

One of the areas I enjoyed taking over was Safety, especially as the track provides a relatively simple glide path to completion and doesn't require much in the way of external support. It also provides a defined role that is visible to all for increasing your name recognition within the squadron and proving to those that are wondering that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

Cadet Programs is one of the largest specialty tracks to engage and sign-off in, meaning that if you don't have a mentor engaging with you regularly you'll find gaining that rating to be a hurdle.

Based on your CV it looks like you have a lot to offer CAP. One suggestion I would make is express an interest in command with your current commander, with a need to fulfill several supporting roles first to make sure you understand what you are getting into.

Eclipse

Quote from: Exosphere on February 13, 2020, 05:28:38 pmI understand that this is an issue throughout CAP.  Why it is left to continue widespread for so long, I can't understand.

That's probably one of the top questions asked here over and over.
NHQ folks would point to the recent (inexplicable and questionable) growth as a win,
yet in the same paragraph indicate how hard it is to recruit strong leaders, while
all along managing by shiny and appeasement, but to be fair, it >is< hard to recruit
good people willing to work hard, let alone be leaders, and trying to hold a hard line
on an organization as large as CAP, while at the same time not making people sad, is
how it gets where it is.

I was in a similar situation early-on.  I joined at a storied, but largely inactive
unit that was essentially a flying club, more interested in letting people right-seat
"safety pilot" then actually doing anything in CAP.

About 18 months in, the Group cc came looking for help, I attended one activity where
I saw what CAP actually could be, and now 20 years in I've been privileged to have experienced most
of what is in the brochures at a pretty high level, but it's never been easy, always
involved a lot of headwinds, and brought a lot of frustration along with it.

I also know far too many people who came and went without ever doing much of anything
because they had things to do in the real lives and were not interested in ice skating uphill.



Holding Pattern

Another (high work, high reward) consideration for you:

If you have other SMs in your squadron that are feeling underutilized, you may want to consider forming a Senior squadron in the same area. Meet on a different day at the same location, or same day, different location. Focus the new squadron where you believe it needs to be going.

With such a strategy you can also continue to augment the cadet squadron so long as you don't burn any bridges in the process.

etodd

Self-starter from day one like you. And now four years later, its still up to me to make things happen. Interested in area "A"? Who is doing the job there now? Make them a good friend and ask if you can ride their coat tails? Ask if they will help mentor you. Don't wait for the Commander or someone above to "assign" you a mentor. Buddy up to the worker bees in the Squadron.

For ES, self-start all you can, and then yes, if possible, do NESA. For specific things like MS, MO, AP, find out who the SETs in your squadron are. Work on the SQTRs yourself, then get the SET to sign off. Then sign up for every SAREX you can, to get the sorties you need.
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO - ESO

sUAS MP - sUAS Instructor - sUAS Check Pilot

1st Lt Thompson

You will run into these issues anytime you have an all volunteer, unpaid organization and are hoping for efficiency. Don't wait to be assigned a roll, go through the specialty tracks and see what interests you. As etodd said, if someone else is already in that roll, ask them if you can be an assistant, have the specialty track added to your file in eservices, and start training. If there isn't someone already in the roll, ask for the specialty track to be added, and ask the CC to reach out to another Squadron or higher echelon to help find you a mentor.

This program will always be focused on Cadets, but that doesn't mean you can't move forward and succeed. If you feel you aren't getting support at your current unit, it's time to go up the chain and find the support you need.
1st Lt Matt Thompson
Historian, Assistant PAO

Mitchell - 31 OCT 98 (#44670) Earhart - 22 MAY 01 (#11401)

Fester

If your Commander isn't providing you with what you need, his/her Supervisor needs to know.
1stLt, CAP
Squadron CC
Group CPO
Eaker - 1996

4X&1XY

I've been in for 19mths and our squadron really didn't have a lot of active SMs and no real SM program.  I saw a void and stepped in.  I started in logistics but when I saw the void I asked to be the Professional Development Officer, started holding SM meetings and am now also the Deputy for SMs.  It's been a haul but we have almost 3 times as many active SMs as we did when I joined.  I'm trying to figure out what classes to provide to help our SMs, get them in Tracks and duty positions we need and they will enjoy. It's a process but since you seem to be experiencing the same void, perhaps you could be the solution.

Exosphere

Quote from: Holding Pattern on February 13, 2020, 06:19:00 pmAnother (high work, high reward) consideration for you:

If you have other SMs in your squadron that are feeling underutilized, you may want to consider forming a Senior squadron in the same area. Meet on a different day at the same location, or same day, different location. Focus the new squadron where you believe it needs to be going.

This does sound like a high work option!  After seeing what Group and Wing expect from the current Commander (read: throw on him at the last moment without adequate resources and expect solutions), I'm not sure if I can commit to that level of stress.  Furthermore, I don't know if there are other SMs who are in the same situation.  At meetings, I am one of three members (other than the CC) who regularly attends - the other two being Deputy Commanders - and there are a few other members who come sporadically.  Most seem to have a long enough background in CAP that they have their place at least.

Quote from: 1st Lt Thompson on February 13, 2020, 06:31:23 pmYou will run into these issues anytime you have an all volunteer, unpaid organization and are hoping for efficiency. Don't wait to be assigned a roll, go through the specialty tracks and see what interests you. As etodd said, if someone else is already in that roll, ask them if you can be an assistant, have the specialty track added to your file in eservices, and start training. If there isn't someone already in the roll, ask for the specialty track to be added, and ask the CC to reach out to another Squadron or higher echelon to help find you a mentor.

I asked to have a Specialty Track added to my file, but was told it could not be added until I achieved a Tech rating.  From my understanding, I need to have a Specialty Track in order to earn the Tech rating.

Quote from: 4X&1XY on February 14, 2020, 09:34:10 amI've been in for 19mths and our squadron really didn't have a lot of active SMs and no real SM program.  I saw a void and stepped in.  I started in logistics but when I saw the void I asked to be the Professional Development Officer, started holding SM meetings and am now also the Deputy for SMs.  It's been a haul but we have almost 3 times as many active SMs as we did when I joined.  I'm trying to figure out what classes to provide to help our SMs, get them in Tracks and duty positions we need and they will enjoy. It's a process but since you seem to be experiencing the same void, perhaps you could be the solution.

I could be that take-charge member, but at many meetings I am the only member who is not the Commander or the two Deputy Commanders.  Other members do sporadically attend, but seem to have their place.

catrulz

February 14, 2020, 12:56:16 pm #14 Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 12:59:42 pm by catrulz
Quote from: Exosphere on February 14, 2020, 11:02:40 amI asked to have a Specialty Track added to my file, but was told it could not be added until I achieved a Tech rating.  From my understanding, I need to have a Specialty Track in order to earn the Tech rating.



Your commander is obviously one of the box checkers we were talking about in the PD thread.  Or was appointed as commander with no experience, and no one willing to provide advice.  E-services tracks your specialty track from no rating until master.  They added this in an attempt to keep units from pencil whipping ST ratings.  That seems to be going well I see.

Also, duty performance promotions do not have to be submitted on a form 2.  They also do not have to be approved by Group or Wing.  At this point your being held up for no reason.  NHQ will almost never back date a promotion.  If you were submitted for a special promotion (above 2ndLT) it might be just as well at this point to take a duty performance promotion.  If you bring this up and the commander starts filling out a CAPF 2, then there is a real problem with your leadership knowledge levels.  As a commander I would never allow a promotion to sit out there that long.  The chain can deny it, but it s unconscionable to just leave it hanging.  Your commander should have been on the phone with the Group Commander along time ago.  LEADERS TAKE CARE OF THEIR PEOPLE.  As a commander you could deny me, but I stayed on top of personnel actions for my folks.

Spit balling since I don't know the whole story.  Everyone can add value, and everyone can get value from this organization.  I hope you hang in there.  By the way, most Groups don't hold regular meeting due to geography.  Staff work is usually done over the month on your time.  Just a thought!

Eclipse

A few things I was thinking about in regards to your situation that point to command failings and
would be further indication you need to either move on, or bring your concerns to higher HQ.

Upon accepting your membership, your CC was required to formally appoint a mentor and assign you
to a specialty track with a rating of "none".  Presumably AE with your background, but the whats
on that are up to you and him.

Unless you have at least one specialty track of "none", you will not receive credit for SLS should
you complete it, and further, it will have to be resubmitted manually (it doesn't "catch-up" once the track is entered).

You do not need to have been assigned a staff role, per-se to complete level II.  Most specialty tracks
require time-in-service, but completion of that is a subjective call per the approve, and yes they can
be back-dated.

As to Yeager, someone with a Doctorate can likely knock it out in 30 minutes cold. It's an open book
test, as much designed to be completed in a group setting as privately, but can be taken as many times
as you like until you complete it. 

I would posit that someone with your background would be very valuable at the wing level on the AE staff,
and potentially ADY as a liaison or coordinator for the AEX/ACE & TOPS programs. To that end I would not wait to work this through channels - find out who the Wing people are and start making phone calls.



militaryspouse

I just want you to know that you are not alone. I have earned a Senior Technician rating and am waiting for another conference to earn my level III while volunteering for every event. My CAP2F is lost and have been told to reapply.  I have been in CAP for about 18 months and it is about the same for me.  I have at least been put in some duty positions, although I am not allowed to do anything in those positions.  Everytime I try to do something, I am told, "That is not how we do it" or,  "That is not your job."  My job is to show up so we have enough SM for the cadets.

Eclipse

PD Levels were submitted on the CAPF 2f 24, that hasn't been the case for about 5+ years and well predates your membership. They are now submitted online.  Best to correct your unit leadership.

If you've earned a a "Senior Technician Specialty Track Rating" then clearly you've at least been
assigned a staff role and someone at least partially knows how to process these things, and if you're working LIII, then you've already done SLS and OBC and should have a good idea how CAP is supposed to work.

As to this...
Quote from: militaryspouse on February 14, 2020, 06:00:42 pmMy job is to show up so we have enough SM for the cadets

That is not your job unless you want it to be.  The same or similar advice applies.
If you're inclined to push back and influence change, arm yourself with the actual regs and process (ask here for example), and then present the state of CAP to your inattentive leadership.

If you don't want to push back, look to serve at different levels. Either way, just showing up to
meetings and being disgruntled serves no one, the least of which is you.



militaryspouse

Sorry, I mistyped.  The form was a capf 2 and it was submitted online.  When I asked  what the status was, I was told  the group commander had approved it and then they could no longer locate it.  I would need to resubmit it.  I attend because I do not feel it is fair for the cadets to show up and there not be enough SM to have the meeting or be able to do the activities that were planned.  I joined to make a difference, and right now I am not.  I am stepping back to see how I can make a difference and see where my talents can be utilized or if another organization would be better suited to use my skills. 

Eclipse

February 14, 2020, 08:09:26 pm #19 Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 08:15:01 pm by Eclipse
Quote from: militaryspouse on February 14, 2020, 07:16:42 pmSorry, I mistyped.  The form was a capf 2 and it was submitted online. 
Again, PD levels would be submitted via the online equivalent of a Form 24, not a 2, and if it was approved by
the Group CC, the it would have been forwarded to the wing, however an online submission
would still be accessible by the Unit's PDO and CC to be able to check status, etc.

There is no online equivalent to the form 2, however if they did send one up somewhere,
especially to get an LIII approved, then it may well have gone into the "WTH" bucket.

Since your unit is apparently clueless, then the only recourse is to move up the chain.
It's not "jumping" when something can't be or isn't being resolved at the lower lever.


Quote from: militaryspouse on February 14, 2020, 07:16:42 pmI attend because I do not feel it is fair for the cadets to show up and there not be enough SM to have the meeting or be able to do the activities that were planned.  I joined to make a difference, and right now I am not.

One could argue that you certainly are making a difference as you're propping up the program
for the cadets, while getting nothing of it for yourself.  With that said, if your propping
it up means no one higher up is hearing of the issues, then you aren't actually helping.

Few things will get reactions faster then a mom calling Wing complaining that meetings are
constantly cancelled because of lack of adults. Perhaps in this situation your best bet
is to take come "family time" and let things evolve naturally.