[October 30, 2020] Military jargon permeates our society. Headspace and timing, though, is a technical term meaning to adjust weapon systems so they fire correctly. Usually used with the Browning .50 caliber heavy machinegun, adjusting headspace and timing is critical for its proper use. However, I will be using as jargon rather than technically.
The U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs accomplished great strides in understanding and treating the mental health of those serving our nation. I remember a time in the U.S. Army when we were told to “suck it up” if we suffered any injury or had a personal problem that might have affected our job performance. We were “weak” if anyone saw us not doing our job fully and without complaint. Times have changed.
Yet, the jargon “headspace and timing” refers to – correctly, I think – our mental capabilities. Are we operating mentally without undue distractions, brain injury, or psychological impediments? If so, our brain with proper headspace and timing is firing properly.
To illustrate, Project Headspace and Timing is a non-profit organization founded to promote positive mental health practices to our nation’s veterans by working to unify them with their communities, nature, and themselves. Such organizations, staffed by caring people, can help our vets and our vets’ families. They do well because of a hard focus on the mental state of veterans.
I remember my Drill Sergeants use of the term “headspace and timing” when yelling at us poor slobs standing in formation. One particular after at Fort Polk, LA comes to mind. While the rain was pouring down in sheets, Drill Sergeant Bryant was conducting an inspection of our gear. To him, the rain was just another prop to help him toughen up us Privates and show us the “real” army.
I fumbled with my gear to open it and show DS Bryant that I had packed my rucksack properly. Of course, it never met his standards. The rain had made a mess of the rucksack’s contents since everything was wet. He stood, loudly yelling, “You worm Satterfield, get your headspace and timing right.” It’s hard to forget such a well-deserved dressing down in front of my platoon. Today, I look back on that time with a bit of nostalgia, but I’m also happy I’m not there taking the end of a verbal lashing.
I did toughen up, and I credit DS Bryant with providing me the motivation and technical skills to be successful. He helped make me mentally tough, not just physically tough. And that was why he was such a great Drill Sergeant.