Thursday, May 20, 2010

Generally speaking

One of the benefits of working nights means that you aren't around during the day.  Particularly, here, that means you miss the Dallas Cheerleaders or Hooters girls when they come through, but you also miss the visits from the DVs.  Distinguished Visitors (DVs) are the military equivalents of VIPs, and they often are not distinguished, but they are almost always General grade officers in the military, or civilian equivalents.

We have had Iraqi and American legislators, governors, heads of agencies (eg. Red Cross) and all of the paparazzi-worthy military (eg the guys you see on the evening news).  This week General Green, the 3-star general in charge of the USAF Medical Corps paid us a visit.  He is supposedly a nice guy, and approachable enough.  I have heard different things of General Odierno, the head of the military in Iraq, who was due this week also, but canceled do to something, undeniably more important.  I lack firsthand experience with any of these people because I come to work at night.

The funny thing about their visits, however, lies in the preparation dedicated to each of their visits.  The "Bio" or CV for each DV comes via email to the whole installation prior to their visit.  If the DV is important enough, we are usually also sent instructions on how to act with a reminder to hold our backs particularly straight, and have our desks particularly orderly.  There is a literal red carpet that sometimes comes out (though I have not seen this here in the AOR) - as if they came to receive their Oscars - and their are near life-size portraits of these individuals on placards at entrances to the building.  Each duty section selects a particularly spiffy, well-put-together individual to give a prepared 30-60 speech about the capability of their duty section; "Our patient wards include 20 beds with the capability to expand to 40 beds in the event of a mass casualty..."  Laughing, visibly, within the line of site of these individuals during their sermons is considered poor form.

And then, there is the entourage.  The aide-de-camp, the public affairs official, the body guard(s); the more important the DV, the larger the entourage.  This gaggle always includes the local commander, or in the case of the less important DVs, the vice commander.  Rounding out the entourage are the chief master sergeant (top enlisted person) and the local superintendents (the top enlisted persons aside of the chief - whose jobs are most amorphous), and a token soldier, seaman or airman who either suffered a battle injury, earned the Medal of Honor, or represents an underrepresented ethnic group.  Sometimes, the Chief gets lucky and finds someone who can be all 3.

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