Kyla Ross

It is only fitting to relate the hype of the Olympics to Girls in Green. While watching the women’s gymnastics portion of the London games I was enthralled by the determination and drive of one member of the USA team: Kyla Ross.

The commentators made note that when the USA qualified after the preliminary round and scored above all the other countries that Kyla Ross was the only girl on the USA team to hold back tears of joy. They also noted that she is known to consistently control her emotions determined on reaching her goal to succeed and be the best. Though her team had just made history yet again, she showed her elation without tears. Her teammates and coaches rely on her consistency and steadfast determinate toward her primary goal: GOLD.

How does this relate to the military? I think it is pretty clear. Often one of the arguments that men have against allowing women on the line is that their emotions keep them from performing. It is not unlikely to see a female cry in moments of fear or sadness and this can hinder the work of the team as a whole. Now, I am not hailing those who bottle up their emotions until they explode, but I do believe that we as females need to take note of Kyla’s determination and discipline on the mat. Extreme emotion is sometimes highly distracting especially during a vigorous mission or a dangerous venture.

No one is perfect, I myself find it particularly hard to hold back emotion, especially when experiencing disappointment. I would like to share an experience I had where I was overcome by emotion which rendered my authority meaningless.

While in Afghanistan, my Platoon found one of our fellow Soldiers using drugs down range. This particular Soldier was one of my point men, a trustworthy Soldier and honestly one of the few Soldiers to open up to me about his personal issues. I was completely defeated to hear that one of my proteges had failed me. Following the initial finding, I had to accompany my Soldier, with the rest of his chain of command, to an Article 15 reading by the Battalion Commander and Sergeant Major. For those that have never been through this process, the Battalion Commander gives each member of the Soldier’s chain of command to propose suggested punishments. Following his Squad Leader and my Platoon Sergeant, I began to well up with tears of disappointment and anger. I asked the Battalion Commander to speak to the Soldier directly and I was so overcome with emotion I could barely speak my mind to him. I coughed out my disappointment towards him especially as a veteran member of our team that majority of my other younger Soldiers look up to. I told him that I believe with out question that drugs are not acceptable and that I did not respect his actions and then followed up with the part that bothered me most: that if he felt he could not handle the battle of being down range without the help of drugs, why didn’t he feel comfortable enough to talk to me about it.

Well, let me just say that this Soldier was not the last one to leave the Battalion Commander’s office with a sore look on his face…I was. My boss asked me to stay for a second to talk to me and mistook my disappointment and anger for a bear hug and an “its ok” towards the Soldier. My tears gave him the impression that I was sad and felt bad for my team member when in actuality my feelings were completely different. Unfortunately, my lack of discipline worked against me and made my boss lose faith in my ability to lead my Platoon without partiality.

First hand I learned that I need to control my emotions and remain determined in my position as a LEADER rather than a PEER. Crying, though a great release, needs to be contained, especially in front of your superiors, your peers and your subordinates. The way you speak and the way you express yourself is highly important. If only I had Kyla Ross as a model before this moment would I have understood the power of emotional discipline and steadfast determination in your primary mission.

GO TEAM USA! Girls in Green support you!