Death Before D.O.R.
D.O.R. stands for drop on request, or to put it in civilian terms, it means the candidate quit of their own free will. I remember specifically telling a master chief while I was a “mud pup” that he was going to have to kill me because I wasn’t going to quit. I know this sounds like a cheesy line from a movie, but it’s something I actually said and unlike the actor in a movie, I actually meant it. I could think of no worse fate than quitting the program and ending up as a plumber on a ship (which was my actual job if I failed). My mindset was that they were either going to drop me because I failed something required or they were going to have to kill me. Everyone has their own reasons, but this is the mentality of just about every single person I’ve ever met who has made it through a military special program. You might fail, but there was never an option to quit.
All military special operations programs are completely voluntary. In fact, during my program, I was required to carry my D.O.R. sheet, in a plastic bag, in my back pocket, 24/7. Even while I was on a dive 100 feet underwater, my D.O.R. sheet was required to be in a plastic bag in my back pocket. This reminded our class that if at any time you felt like going home, the door was open. Your instructors would even be so kind as to get you a coffee, some donuts, a warm blanket, and even have a beer with you later as they sent you out the door to your new life as a quitter.
Many special operations programs have attrition rates as high as 86%. This is a measure of the number of people who, for one reason or another, don’t make it to the end of their voluntary special program after enlisting. The vast majority of these washouts are from candidates that quit, or D.O.R.
While it is obvious that not everyone is physically qualified for programs like these and might get injured or fail to qualify, it is not so obvious to anyone in the world why so many candidates quit. Believe me, if you had a silver bullet to fix that problem for the military, they have a multi-million dollar check with your name on it. Some candidates spend years, or even their entire lives training for these programs only to go home on the first day. Over the years I have found it amusing to hear the multitude of excuses like how an instructor just didn’t like a person so it was impossible for them NOT to quit.
There have been many research studies on the subject of increasing mental fortitude, but how to teach that to someone who just doesn’t have it naturally is still largely a mystery. Today the military has figured out how to physically train candidates better than ever, but not how to mentally train them for a special forces program. The saying in the military currently is that “we are producing the most physically fit quitters in the history of the military.” They are better, faster, stronger candidates, but mentally weak.
The Sugar Cookies seem to have found a way to improve mental toughness as our candidates are currently all near the top in their classes so far. The candidates that show enough motivation to stay in our program all the way to the end are much more likely to graduate their spec ops program. Still, we do need more time and research. The best way to help our non-paid volunteers is with a DONATION so we can continue our study of grit and perseverance. Candidates who quit or fail cost the American taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year and we intend to fix this problem with the help of our volunteer team of mentors, advisors, and doctoral psychologists.