Dorm inspections more than just military tradition

Master Sgt. John Skaggs

For some dorm residents, it is an inconvenience and annoyance when the first sergeant inspects dorms.
Some may ask, “Why does it matter if I have candles in my room or if my bed is not made or if my floor has become a dustball ranch?” They may argue that their dorm is their home and they should be able to live in their homes as they please.
Even some senior supervisors have asked why they must perform Leadership Visits. They falsely argue that dormitories are the sole responsibility of dorm management and first sergeants.
For the dorm resident, maintaining military standards in dormitories/barracks is as old as the military itself. In countless movies we see sergeants and commanders performing inspections with incredible thoroughness as troops stand at attention, hoping for good results and a weekend pass.
Maintaining clean and orderly living quarters is a matter of military necessity. Unsanitary conditions contribute to disease and attract insects and rodents. When you have large numbers of people living in close quarters, maintaining cleanliness becomes even more important. A neat, clean living environment actually improves morale just as much as living in filth lowers it.

Though 90 percent of dorm residents could safely manage a candle just fine, it only takes one careless act to result in a fire, or ultimately, loss of life.
The same goes for weapons and other “outlawed” items. While most troops would have no problems with having a firearm, paintball gun, knife, sword or pet in their rooms, it presents considerable risk when one thoughtless or irresponsible act results in serious consequences.
Maintaining high standards in common areas is also important. I compare this to having a new house. When a home is new, the first time something gets broken, it is a big deal. Over a period of time though, if high standards are not maintained and repairs are not completed immediately and when required, the house is abandoned or condemned.
For supervisors, I have personally never seen a troop with an immaculate dorm room pending an administrative discharge or punitive action. The condition of our Airmen’s dormitory rooms is, in my opinion, the single most important indicator of our Airman’s mental state. Visiting our Airmen’s quarters is one of the best ways to get to know our troops and every supervisor should be actively involved, not just the first sergeant.

Dormitory inspections and leadership visits contribute to the good health, safety, morale and welfare of our Airmen while promoting individual responsibility. They are completely necessary by supervisors at all levels.