Homesickness - Help!

Discussion in 'Merchant Marine Academy - USMMA' started by G-Man'sMom, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. G-Man'sMom

    G-Man'sMom Member

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    My DS is struggling with severe homesickness. Indoc is almost over, but I’m petrified he won’t make it. He gets so upset that he hyperventilates and passes out, and they keep taking him to the hospital. Any advice on how to help this kid? He’s falling apart, and I’m halfway across the country.
     
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  2. MidCakePa

    MidCakePa Member

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    This may sound cold, but let him be. This isn’t the first time MMA has had to deal with severe homesickness. They know how to handle it, with the intent of helping cadets overcome their issues, and continue as productive and confident members of their class. It’s no doubt hard to be so far away and not able to help, but put your faith in MMA and your son.
     
  3. kpmom2013

    kpmom2013 5-Year Member

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    He will be fine. This kind of thing is a frequent occurrence at KP. They are good at dealing with it. I understand that you are feeling helpless--it's a mom thing. You have to learn to put your faith in the process like MidCakePa said. If your son were not capable of success at KP he would not be there. He (and you) will have rough patches during his time away. Just about everyone does. It hits some during INDOC, some when they are in danger of failing their first class ever, some while at sea (that would be me during the Arab Spring when my DS's ship was trapped in the Suez Canal). It is a time of growing for both of you. Hang in there. Sending you a pm.
     
  4. cmakin

    cmakin 5-Year Member

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    He certainly has to get a handle on this. A life at sea involves very little time at home. Sorry to be cold, but that it the reality. Two or three days into Indoc, I was pretty much ready to cash it all in. . .I could go home and enroll in the local college, or I could tough it out. One thing that Plebe Year is designed to do is to get the new student used to the isolation from family that a sea going career involves. Communication is better these days than when I went through the program, and even onboard vessels at sea than it was back in my day. Still, giving up constant contact with home, family and friends is certainly part of the lifestyle. I hope he gets through it. Remember, however, a career in the Merchant Marine isn't for everybody. I would have to think that it is even more difficult now considering how connected we can be. Very few of my friends outside of the industry can relate to it. . .
     
  5. KPEngineer

    KPEngineer Eternal Father ... 5-Year Member

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    I will guarantee you that others have already quit so if he is still there then he already has more staying power than others.

    I suggest following the "outrunning the bear" model, and focus on just not being the next one to quit. Just outlast the next person, then outlast the next person after that, then outlast the next person after that and before you know it you are at graduation.
     
  6. parktrack

    parktrack "Hoov!" "Target In Sight"

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    Just hang in there. It's a period of growth for him and making it this far tells me he has the strength to get through it. Everything that was comfortable and familiar to him is gone so it is only natural that he is homesick. My DS is a strong and independent kid who's not afraid of stepping out and doing new things. In his first letter home during Basic he said he was "EXTREMELY HOMESICK". And yes, he wrote it in all caps. It was quite a shock for mom and dad to hear that from him. Fast forward two years and things are totally different. Yesterday he flew in and F-16 in the morning and flew a 4-hour helicopter sortie in the afternoon. The point is that it will get better with time, endurance and patience.
     
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  7. luv2fly

    luv2fly 5-Year Member

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    G-Man'sMom, I posted this in July 09 when my DS was a Plebe. Hope it helps.

    It might be time for a little tough love.

    This story comes from a very dear friend. A few years ago he was at USNA. After about four weeks of plebe summer he had enough. Called dad and said I made a mistake and I want to come home. This place is not for me. Not enough food. Not enough sleep. It's just to hard to deal with. Dad says I'll be down this evening to pick to you up. Older brother calls USNA to see where to pick him up at. Older brother talks to younger brother to see why he wants to come home. Older brother tells younger brother that you have the opportunity of a life time. Why don't you stick it out for a couple more weeks and see what happens. If at that time you want to quit, call and I'll come get you.(I'm giving you the nice version of what was said.) Dear friend never called his brother or his father to come home. He thanks his older brother every day for that talk. Today dear friend has the word Captain in front of his name USN. I can't tell you what he does today, because you'll figure out who he is. Dear friend offered to play bad cop for my DS last year if he needed it.

    Good Luck, with the talk.

    Luv2fly.
     
  8. Doolieplebe

    Doolieplebe Member

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    I'm curious. How many (percent) fall out during the process of the plebe initiation summer on account of homesickness/second-thoughts? And what happens to those slots--they probably don't get backfilled, right? I assume SA's account for this during their initial class sizing, to include later washouts to get to an expected end-strength size at graduation? Is this something that admissions process probes very much; do liaisons and BGO go into this very much? Not according to our DS, anyway. Lots of probing questions about being a warrior and the profession of arms, etc. But maybe they learned they can't actually test for grit and resilience until they get there.
     
  9. G-Man'sMom

    G-Man'sMom Member

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    Thanks for the support! I’m just scared they are going to disenroll him because he’s missed some of Indoc. I don’t know how they handle that. He hasn’t told anyone up there that he wants to quit, so at least that’s a good thing!
     
  10. golfindad

    golfindad Member

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    Losses during indoc are usually between 1 and 1.5%. It sounds like those numbers will be the correct range this year as well. For spots that open due to people leaving, --no, they are not back filled.

    You can miss some of indoc. Don't worry about that. It is only when you miss a majority of indoc, or the essential parts of indoc that there is an issue.

    about the current issue, you cant do anything about it. You can send mail every day. You can be upbeat on the phone call. You can be supportive with everything. But, you can't hand hold. You can go visit as soon as it is allowed and hang with him for an hour or two and give some support in Land hall over a pizza. You can go up on Sunday and sit in church and see him then. Good luck
     
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  11. USMCGrunt

    USMCGrunt 5-Year Member

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    G-Man's Mom: I truly mean no disrespect and recognize that only you can know your DS' mental and physical state. That said, it seems strange that homesickness would cause hyperventilation and loss of consciousness. Is it possible that this reaction is the result of some other cause?

    As a Marine Officer, I dealt with a lot of very young men - many who had never been out of their town, flown on a plane, or dealt with the conditions an Infantry unit faces. Some had never been in the woods and were afraid of the dark. Others never had to "jump" to the orders of someone senior to them. Still others had never pushed themselves to the point of exhaustion and then faced the fact that they had to keep going.

    Every once in awhile, I would have a Marine who repeatedly dropped out of runs, forced marches, etc. They would buddy up to the Corpsman and seek comfort (and distance) from their chain of command.

    I am not saying that is what your DS is doing but in addition to all the great posts above, I would urge you to consider what else may be going on (even if it is something he may be afraid to vocalize to you).

    Wishing your DS the best.
     
  12. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    > I can't speak to Kings Point specifically, but not many at USNA. A lot fewer than it used to be, partly because we are in a kindler gentler world, and partly because of better screening and selection. I do know that a lot of counseling goes on at USNA before a person can drop out- senior officer, chaplain etc. to ensure they really want to go home and not because of a few bad moments. Intitial training is fulls of ups and downs, everyone has their moments, and its nothing to be ashamed of. The best cure for homesickness is getting so busy that you simply don't have time to think about home, and I would suspect by this point of indoc at whatever Service Academy , the heat is turned up high enough that the thoughts are really limited to those few minutes before you go to sleep.

    > As a BGO, I talk about interest and motivation. To be honest, have never given Homesickness a minutes thought as a factor. I do probe to ensure it is the candidate, not their parent, who wants to attend. I would suspect that the number one reason people leave during Plebe Summer/Indoc, etc, , ie. they simply never wanted to be there in the first place -- they got caught up in parental pressure or some other outside force, and just never have the guts to stand up and say this isn't for me until they are in the middle of it.
     
  13. kpmom2013

    kpmom2013 5-Year Member

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    The Kings Point process is similar to USNA. I know of two Plebe Candidates who have gone home on request so far plus one who was already disenrolled for being way over height-weight standards. Two more are in the process of counseling but have decided to stay for now. Leaving is a long process intended to keep those candidates who may be having a bad day but who might still be a good fit. Long term thinking is the key to successful completion of indoc just like it is through all of life's difficult times. No backfilling of the spots happens with new candidates, but a few 2021 plebe were set back to class of 2022, so the number in the class will not change much once those are added in.
     
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  14. Capt MJ

    Capt MJ 5-Year Member

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    People with some introversion traits, which may or may not be applicable to your son, can also have a hard time at jump-in-the-deep-end Plebe Summer/Indoc/BCT/Boot Camp introductions to a military regimen. For those folks, there is no opportunity to step away for a quiet moment to re-charge, reflect and process. People, sometimes quite extrovertedly loud and energetic, are around you for what feels like Every...Single...Minute.

    Assure your son of your confidence in him to figure this out, to live in the moment, and just do what it takes to get through the next week, or day, or hour. It cannot last forever.

    Then step back.

    I have introverted traits, have no problem being out front and involved, but felt smothered at OCS by being around people, yes, every single minute. I just wanted away from there, though I was doing fine in every aspect. I figured it out.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  15. Jmoney457

    Jmoney457 Member

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    This is the truth. Even after going to sea for months with no comms, cutting the social media at the end of a port stay always produced terrible feelings. So much so that I tried to keep my phone off just to normalize it even in port. I have no doubt that plebe year gave me the tools to deal with the psychological aspect of going out to sea.
     
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  16. cmakin

    cmakin 5-Year Member

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    In addition to what I wrote above, I look at it this way. To be a competent merchant seaman/officer/engineer; or even on the shoreside based maritime industry, one must be able to leave the "regular world" behind at a moment's notice. I haven't sailed on my license for quite some time, but there are times that when the phone rings, off I go to anywhere in the world, for often ill defined periods of time, including offshore (as most of my work these day is in the energy industry). This kind of work is often at odds with what is normal in our society, and it takes a different kind of person. I remember back when I was still sailing (CE on an ATB), the company hired a tankerman who had only worked in brown water (rivers and canals for those not maritime oriented). We sailed from Norfolk to Guayaquil, Ecuador. This tankerman was so homesick, he wanted to head home when we got to Panama for the Canal transit, but changed his mind at the last minute. By the time we got to Ecuador, he could not take it at all and the company flew him home. I can't recall the details since it was so long ago, but it might even been at his own expense. Again, this life isn't for everyone. I have always felt that the training that KP offers goes beyond just learning navigation, cargo ops, engineering, etc.; it also fosters a real independence. This industry requires more from the people in it than most, but to me, the rewards are beyond compare.
     
  17. BTCS/USN

    BTCS/USN Member

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    The hidden advantage realized later about acquired independence is that looking back you realize that you have seen and done things, met a plethora of different people and experienced an 'I can do this' attitude that most will never get to enjoy. Sitting at home with some people I went to high school with along with a couple of guys that sailed brought it all home. The sailors were all talking about places half way around the world while the ones that never left home could only sit there with mouths agape listening to the tales. They also couldn't contribute much to the conversation. We had moved way beyond the local happenings and events. Later in the evening, it was decided to go to the beach for the upcoming three day weekend. The homebodies wound up going to Atlantic City about 50 miles away. The rest of us flew to San Juan, P.R. for the same weekend.
     
  18. cmakin

    cmakin 5-Year Member

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    Exactly. Case in point (and one I may have already made on another thread, just too lazy to look). At our local brewery tap room, another regular in there is someone I have known for 30 years. He is a former marine engineer, Cal Maritime graduate (was on the SAVANNAH for years), and like me, came ashore and worked as a surveyor for many years. We often talk about what we did, where we have been, as you noted above. Another patron sitting next to us stated, "Well, I would have loved to have the opportunity to do all that, but I grew up in Illinois . . " Just didn't get it. . . . and yeah, I think nothing of going off to different points on the globe for work. My kids have the same attitude. While neither went the academy route, my son just got back from a year in the Indian Ocean/Med for his Navy Reserve deployment. My daughter, who is NOT military at all, just made a vacation trip to Thailand. Last year it was Greece, and she will be off to Ireland in November.
     
  19. Old Navy BGO

    Old Navy BGO 5-Year Member

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    And that is the beauty of the Service Academies, and the military in general -- it doesn't matter where you grew up, what your socio-economic background is, what race , religion or whatever --everyone has the same opportunity. I'm from the Midwest, and I went Navy. The Superintendent when I graduated was Admiral Larson (then Rear Admiral...went back to USNA a second time as a 4 star ), he also was the graduation speaker at my NAPS graduation 4 years earlier. I recall every time I went through a receiving line to meet the Admiral, NAPS and 2-3 times while a Midshipman, he would always ask where we were from --and he would inevitably respond that he joined the Navy so he could get away from Nebraska, about as far from the sea or any foreign country as you can be in the US.
     
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  20. golfindad

    golfindad Member

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    Dean was the man before retiring!
     
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