Here's How Marine Corps Drill Instructors Prevent 'Frog Voice'

Community
U.S. Marine Corps photo

“Nasally.”


“Straight-from-the-throat.”

That’s how Staff Sgt. Jake Bublitz described using his voice during his first cycle as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

It was a case of “what-not-to-do,” Bublitz, now in his third cycle training recruits on the island, recently said.

“It took me a long time to get my voice to rebound when it was over,” he said, his voice hoarse and threatening to vanish, three weeks into the 13-week training cycle.

A recruit of Company A, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, endures the challenges of a senior drill instructor uniform inspection aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San DiegoU.S. Marine Corps photo

Drill instructors call it “frog voice” — that raspy effect they develop from yelling commands to recruits, yelling at recruits and, sometimes, just yelling. Yelling for hours and days and weeks on end. Yelling so much that, sometimes, all that comes out is a croak.

Or a whisper-scream.

While frog voice is an oft-joked-about feature of the depot’s aura, drill instructors such as Bublitz don’t take it lightly — all that yelling can have serious health consequences. At the depot’s Drill Instructor School, Marines learn techniques for safeguarding their bodies and vocal chords. And some drill instructors say the hardest part of their day is coming to work with sore throats and no voices — and knowing they’re going to have yell for 18 straight hours.

That’s what Staff Sgt. Thomas Phillips told Task & Purpose: “Honestly, the worst thing ever wasn’t waking up at three in the morning,” he said during a May 2016 interview that offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what it’s like to be a drill instructor. “(I)t was getting to work, parking my truck, and walking to the squad bay knowing I had to yell again.”

It’s not uncommon for drill instructors to spit up blood, Phillips said.

“Drill instructors literally scream so hard at recruits that they can pass out, give themselves hernias, or do serious and permanent damage to their vocal chords,” according to the Marine Corps Times.

To combat these ailments, drill instructors in training learn methods for projecting their voice and preventing injury.

Bublitz said veteran drill instructors taught him how to speak from his diaphragm and squeeze his lower abdominal muscles to be loud and clear, and to stave off a hernia.

Another technique: situational awareness. If you’re directing a platoon of about 100 recruits, Bublitz said, you have to realize where you’re standing in relation to platoon guide — the recruit leading the platoon — and how many recruits have their backs to you. If you’re yelling at someone’s back and from a distance, it’s harder for them to hear you.

Finally, Bublitz said some of his mentors taught him to yell commands with economy: “I try to limit the communications with recruits down to three to five words, unless you’re actively teaching something,” he said.

And if you teach trainees right the first time, he said, you can be even more efficient.

“Prime example: going to the chow hall,” he said.

“I told my recruits at the very beginning I’m going to say, ‘Stacks!’” he said, explaining the command for trainees to un-sling their rifles and prop them against each other, then remove their backpacks.

“And they say, ‘Stacks, aye, sir.’

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sabrina Nieves, a drill instructor with Platoon 4034, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, yells orders to recruits Aug. 1, 2017, on Parris Island, S.C.U.S. Marine Corps photo

“It’s just a one-word command, and they know it from the very beginning.”

During training cycles, drill instructors might use lozenges, hot water with honey and lemon, hot tea followed by a cold drink or even pickle juice to treat their strained throats, according to the Marine Corps Times.

Bublitz stays away from the lozenges and processed sugar.

He drank deeply and often from a large jug of water as he talked about his voice, which he’s trying to safeguard ahead of his upcoming performances.

Bublitz is a singer-songwriter on the side.

He was a recent finalist in a national music competition for veterans sponsored by financial corporation USAA and media site We Are The Mighty.

He’s got an album coming out soon.

And he’s got a gig coming up this month.

———

©2017 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less

A low-flying C-17 gave Nashville residents a fright on Friday when the aircraft made several unannounced passes over the city's bustling downtown.

Read More Show Less
George W. Bush/Instagram

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.

In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less