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Ground Hog Day

  • Published
  • By Col. Thomas J. Goulter, Jr.
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing

By the time many of you read this, most of you will be midway through your deployment.  And for most, you are hitting your stride.  You have your processes down pat and you own the mission despite, day or night, the long hot shifts.  You’re all professionals and by now, you’ve mastered your schedule:  eat, sleep, work and workout…repeat. 

It is the “repeat” or repetitiveness that sometimes drives people crazy.  Just the other day, I heard someone say, “It’s Groundhog Day, again.”  For those who may not know the reference, Groundhog Day is a movie from the early 1990’s starring Bill Murray as the Pittsburgh TV Meteorologist Phil Connors.  Phil is sent on assignment to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  After getting snowed in due to a blizzard, Phil has to spend the night in Punxsutawney.  When he wakes up the next morning, Phil realizes that we is reliving Groundhog Day, again.  And for Phil, who despises any and everything about Groundhog Day, the worst is yet to come as he continues to relive the same day over and over again.

Often during deployments where the seasons stay relatively the same and the scenery is missing a few shades on the color scale, some people fall into the Groundhog Day trap.  They become complacent as the same routine (same job, long days, dichromatic scenery) repeats over and over again.  Obviously, the repetitiveness is something that can’t be avoided.  However, the attitude in how we approach it is completely in our control.

For Phil, continuously reliving the same day with no end in sight led to depression.  Luckily, Phil had someone to talk and confide in.  Subsequently his attitude changed and instead of moping about, he decided to take advantage of his situation.  Eventually, Phil learned how to play the piano, sculpt ice and even recite French poetry.

At times, deployed life can lead to blocks of depression.  Luckily, there exist many helping agencies to get us over that hump.  The Chaplain Corps, the Expeditionary Medical Group’s Mental Health officers as well as Airman and Family Readiness Center’s Military and Family Life Consultants are a few professionals deployed alongside us who are great at breaking down those repetitive patterns into manageable chunks.

There are also a plethora of activities and events to help ease the body and mind.  Some of these events simply blow off steam while other activities improve ones’ self.  For instance, the EFSS provides an education center for degree advancement.  They also provide a calendar of events to improve morale or to get physically in shape.  In addition to on base events, ITT offers a myriad of local activities to learn about and experience our host nation.  And if you want to meet people while giving a helping hand to our host nation, join Jar Saleh, a volunteer organization who works with the host nation as “Good Neighbors” for local community development.

As a former AF Meteorologist who’s deployed numerous times, I appreciate the irony of Groundhog Day and deployments.  So when you find yourself in a repetitive rut, reach out and make life better.  You have the power to effect change, to better yourself.  And the best part about it…you don’t have to do it alone.

For more information on these topics, please visit (links):




EFSS Calendar

Jar Saleh

Education Center

Fitness Center