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Keep the attitude in check
Military spouse
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About two years after joining the Army, or at least 18 months with a waiver, soldiers are susceptible to a very serious attitude problem. I like to call this the “specialist complex.”
OK, so it’s not a real psychological problem that’s listed in databases (yet), but during my last year and a half as an Army wife — and even in the years before that as the daughter of a soldier — I’ve noticed a few things tend to come with that E-4 promotion.
Many, not all, soldiers seem to get caught up in the authority of the new title. My dad would say, “Specialist is the best rank you can have — respect without real responsibility.”
Now, I’m not saying specialists don’t have responsibility. Of course they do, just like any other rank in the Army. But the new power and respect afforded to an E-4 often seems to go to their heads.
The specialist complex, in its simplest form, is the attitude problem that makes a soldier ranked E-4 feel the need to treat any soldier E-3 and below even more critically than most higher ranking soldiers ever would. Admittedly, some of this seems to be forced on them. Specialists are often encouraged to “practice” being a sergeant. The idea behind this makes sense, but more often than not, I’ve seen specialists overcompensating for their rank to insure that desired effect.
Now, this is something I’ve come to expect and accept about the Army and some members of this rank. However, with my husband’s upcoming promotion from Pvt. 1st Class McKenna to Spc. McKenna, I can’t help but be a little nervous that I’ll feel some of that specialist complex when he gets back. I’m hoping his disdain for the complex will be enough to keep it at bay, but with so many having fallen prey, I’m bracing myself — just in case.

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