Most Stressful Jobs: #1 Enlisted Military, Sailor Jacob Gaetke [VIDEO]
Subscribe to AM 1240 WJON on
ST. CLOUD — For seven years he dedicated himself to the United States Navy. We conclude our series on the top 10 most stressful jobs (developed by careercast.com) with #1 enlisted military, sailor Jacob Gaetke.
At 19-years-old Gaetke chose to make a decision that would affect the rest of his life, he enlisted in the Navy. He says the decision was not an easy one to make.
“My thought process behind it was, what can I do to take the next step because I wasn’t making enough to go to college.”
Gaetke grew up in a family that values serving their country his father, Don Gaetke is an Army veteran, his grandmother and both grandfathers are also veterans. It was because of his family’s military background he knew that he would be supported in his decision to join.
Gaetke decided to tell his family soon after signing his papers and from that moment on his military journey began.
“When you’re first enlisted you take the oath and from then you go on to boot camp, which is your basic training.”
Basic training, Gaetke says is the beginning, it’s where you learn how to live a military life.
“You take tests in boot camp, you take written exams and it’s about military bearing too.”
Gaetke decided to go into the information technology field. After finishing boot camp and IT training school Gaetke reported to the USS Ronald Reagan in San Diego, California for duty.
“They gave me those orders and I did a little research. When I got to the ship everything was very new but also very familiar, not to my A-school [IT training school] but to boot camp.”
Everything Gaetke was taught in boot camp could be applied to his new duty station. He says common phrases that were used in boot camp, head on a swivel, scuttlebutt, show you the ropes and many more were necessary to know while on the ship.
When Gaetke reported to the Reagan it not only became his new “office” or work place it became his new home.
“My bed was on the ship, my shower was on the ship, my work was on the ship. I lived breathed and bathed the Ronald Reagan.”
With being an IT, Gaetke was directly responsible for communications on board the ship.
“So all of the communications aboard the ship via email, radio, phones was managed by the information technology branch.”
More specifically, Gaetke managed the network side meaning he managed servers that controlled all web and email communications.
“You’re doing tactical missions and the mission could succeed or fail based on if those key systems were up.”
While Gaetke served on the Reagan he says on average the systems were up and running 98-99% of the time, which was outstanding for the information technology department on board.
But being an IT is not the only job in the military and for the stressful jobs list, enlisted military covers hundreds of jobs in all of the different branches. Gaetke says his job did have it’s own unique stresses but overall everyone in the military faces one common stress.
“You’re under contract, you’re serving, so when they say service, it is a service and it’s not like you can quit.”
If you don’t like your job in civilian life you can quit, no one is forcing you to work where you work but in the military, Gaetke says that door isn’t open, you can’t just walk out and say you quit, he says this feeling of inescapability is one of the most challenging aspects of being in the military.
Danger is another common stress Gaetke and other military personnel face on daily basis and more dangerous situations tend to happen during missions. For Gaetke his most dangerous and stressful mission was his first one now known as Operation Tomadachi.
“[We] were smack dab in the middle of Operation Tomadachi is what they ended up calling it, with the earthquake in 2011 that hit Japan and tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima nuclear power plant. We were directly involved with that on the USS Ronald Reagan.”
While providing relief to Japan, sailors on board the ship had to protect themselves from radiation. Gaetke says gas masks were issued and the ventilation system on the ship was closed to protect sailors from the outside elements. He says being in that environment was stressful and most of the time his stresses were brought on by his environment. Sometimes he’d be at sea for more than 80 days at a time. Gaetke says whenever he was sent something from home, it gave him hope.
“I was overjoyed when I got care packages because it was a taste of freedom, it was a taste of civilian life.”
Besides getting a care package Gaetke says he made it a priority to explore new places when the ship was docked and to hang out with co-workers on down time to relieve stress. But he says his number one stress relief was being able to go home.
“I love spending time with my family, I always felt so loved when I came home. My mom would make me omelettes for breakfast, I loved that because I never got omelettes on the ship.”
Getting married, re-enlisting after serving on the Reagan and deciding to move back to Minnesota, life never stops and this is true on both sides. Gaetke says he has many missing memories that he’ll never be able to experience.
“When I look at my family, I look at everything that’s going on, my brain is trying to catch up to understand, to truly be involved.”
Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, nieces and nephews being born, weddings, holidays and so many more memories Gaetke says are like gaps or holes in a timeline that he’ll never be able to fill. He says often times veterans struggle with the past when they return home because they feel the need to try to live what they have missed but in reality he says the best thing to do is to move forward, and make new memories.
The challenges don’t end when you get out either, Gaetke says his toughest challenge right now is finding his path in civilian life.
“In the civilian world they look at okay you were an E5 in the military but what does that mean to me. That’s all it says on your DD214, you’re an E5, I know what you got paid, I don’t know exactly what you did, it says IT but what does that mean in the Navy. So right now I’m building on top of my experience with education.”
Now that his Navy journey has come to an end, Gaetke says he has no regrets.
“It was by far the best choice I have ever made in my life.”
You can check out all of the top 10 most stressful jobs by clicking the link below.