Several questions were asked about ESOAL throughout the conference call.
@ 15:55 – Dave says that ESOAL has changed dramatically. In the early years, the entire group stayed together, but “as a result of that way of doing ESOAL”, there were a lot of GIs and even staff member who got “power hungry” and acted like “drill sergeants.” However, now they are broken up into smaller groups called companies and platoons.
First off, I can’t imagine why the facilitators acted like drill sergeants. I mean, its not like this event is based on the extreme military training during Navy Seals Hell Week.
Second, this idea doesn’t make sense to me – wouldn’t there be more opportunity for “power hungry” staff and GIs to act like “drill sergeants” when they each oversee their own group instead of all being together?
@ 16:27 – “I heard stories of people being required to eat crickets or things like this that were just totally unacceptable. So as I was hearing these concerns, I have totally restructured ESOAL.”
Really? This happened in 2008, supposedly after you “totally restructured” ESOAL. When a GI asked you about it, just a few short months ago, it seems that the only reason this was unacceptable is your concern that someone would blog about it, not that its actually an unacceptable activity. Watch the video to see for yourself.
@ 33:10 – Dave says 24/7 there are medical professionals on hand; medic is set up in the auditorium.
If that is the case, why are there so many severe injuries? At least some of which go untreated?? How many medics are on hand? Is it enough for the 500 people doing the event?
In addition, I would suggest that the event ITSELF is unsafe, no matter how many medics are on hand. In 2008, at least one intern developed meningitis from the water and had to be quarantined for 5 weeks (at great expense and TM did not contribute a nickel).
@ 58:40 – We tell people to say, “It pays to be a winner and you are a loser,” because it is emotionally challenging to say that. We quit doing it b/c everyone was winking and laughing about it.
So, Dave still endorses this type of verbal harassment. The only reason they quit doing it is that it is no longer harassing enough. Wonder what he’ll come up with next?
@ 2:00:16 – During Hurricane Katrina there were about 10 individuals that we were taking their temperature every hour on the hour. If you couldn’t maintain a temperature above 97 degrees, you got taken inside, wrapped up in blankets and given hot soup. If you couldn’t get your temperature back up within an hour, you were told, “You’re finished. You can’t keep going.”
One alumnus wrote to me the following day about this particular statement. She wanted to give another side to the story. She mentions that she never saw the so-called blankets and hot soup…but of course its possible that this happened and she just didn’t see it. Nevertheless, I think she raises some important questions:
“He specifically referenced the ESOAL that took place during hurricane Katrina. This was in 2005 and I had just moved back to the Tyler area. I was a facilitator that ESOAL. In the conference call last night, Dave said that they were constantly checking participants’ temps with thermometers and if they got to low they would be sent inside, wrapped up in blankets and given hot soup. I was there the entire weekend from start to finish. The only time I was not out with the participants was a few hours a night to sleep and once in the afternoon for an hour or two to dry my clothes. Yes, participants were asked to step forward if they felt like they were freezing and their temps were checked with a thermometer. However, I never once saw blankets or hot soup handed out. It wasn’t just raining, it was raining SIDEWAYS. I was in my lil army fatigues and big rain jacket and I was soaked! (hence the reason having to go stick my clothes in the dryer one afternoon) It would have been pointless to hand out blankets since it was raining. Participants were brought inside to the SAC as a whole group once or twice during the day. Blankets were not handed out, large black trash bags were. They were instructed to wear it like a poncho and kinda breathe into it, their warm breathe contained by the plastic bag would help raise back up their body temp. Whatever, my point is Dave states over and over again that he keeps ESOAL safe and then list examples. Well, how is refusing to cancel or post pone an event DURING A HURRICANE safe? And then saying blankets, soup was passed out when I never witnessed that while I was there that year. I specifically remember being out in the sand pit one afternoon as participants ran the obstacle course over and over again. The rain and wind was insane! I was holding down one of the posts to a tent (the portable kind that just has a roof and no walls) trying to keep it from blowing away. We had 1-2 facilitators at each pole. Didn’t do much good though since it was literally raining sideways. I was completely soaked even with a rain jacket on. Participants were shivering and huddled together. As some of them came forward to get their temps checked as long as they did not have hypothermia (I guess there was a set temp. to go by) they were allowed to continue. At one point a pickup truck was driven down into the sand pit, left running, hood popped up, and facilitators would have the shivering participants huddled around the engine for warmth. They rotated the participants like every 10 mins or so. This is when I thought to myself this is absolutely ridiculous. What would it take for leadership to cancel this event? How could anyone think that running around outside during a hurricane is safe?
Lastly, I will never forget one participant. He was either a GI or just an alumni returning to do the event. He was forced to ring out because he was so cold. He was hysterical because he wanted to continue. Two things come to mind here: 1. The facilitators did do a good job protecting his health but having him ring out. [Well sort of, he never should have been put in that situation in the first place] 2. I will never forget how hysterical he was about being forced to ring out. So again, why are the participants felt like ESOAL is so important to finish, even at the risk of their own health?!”