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Suffering from Gethomeitis?

By MS. RUTH ANN REPLOGLE, Staff Writer

I bet you have suffered from gethomeitis at one point or another.

Not sure what I am talking about? Consider this scenario: You have been cross-country, TDY, or deployed and you are en route home. All you can think about is how good it will feel to fall into your own bed, have your loved ones at your side, and finally have no tasks to rack and stack. Nothing matters but getting home—sometimes at any cost.

We call it “gethomeitis” (get-home-it is) around here, but it has also been called “last leg syndrome.” The problem with having gethomeitis is that you develop tunnel vision, and safety is the first thing to go.

CATCHING GETHOMEITIS

Airmen succumb to gethomeitis several ways.

  • Delusion. You tell yourself you are almost there, so keep pressing on no matter how tired you are.
  • Investment. You feel you have already invested too much to turn back or change plans.
  • Rationale. You have done this before so experience will prevail, right?

Unfortunately, by passing up much safer opportunities, you risk being infected by gethomeitis. Common symptoms include fatigue, poor communication, compartmentalization, and/or disorientation.

IMPACTS OF GETHOMEITIS

Gethomeitis overrides logic, sound decision-making, and basic instinct. It can cause errors in judgment. Being fixated on getting home can cause you to miss critical components. For example, you may only half-listen to the control tower warning you of possible bad weather and fly into it. Perhaps you do a routine check, but your mind is elsewhere and you inadvertently skip a step. Maybe you simply disregard your surroundings, opening yourself up for sabotage.

Other effects are accidents and injuries.  Since gethomeitis can throw your senses and motor skills off kilter, you can become clumsy or find it hard to concentrate. As a result, you are more liable to cause harm to yourself or others when you have gethomeitis.

Fatalities are rare, but it is possible to get yourself or others killed due to your gethomeitis. Being in a hurry means you might be taking unnecessary risks that can have dire consequences.

HOW TO AVOID GETTING GETHOMEITIS

Gethomeitis can be avoided.

  • Get enough sleep. The average person needs seven to eight hours of good sleep in a 24-hour period. You accumulate sleep debt when you do not get enough sleep. If you have sleep debt, go to bed an hour or two earlier to help pay it off.
  • Have a plan. Make sure all essentials are at your fingertips. Ensure your route is clear and someone at your destination is aware when you are arriving. Make a backup plan before you leave in the event of an emergency or detour.
  • Listen to your instincts. If you sense something is amiss, act on that hunch (or at least investigate) rather than ignore it.

Letting down your guard makes you prone to gethomeitis. Complacency has no place in the Air Force, so build your immunity to gethomeitis and get home safe!