Staff Sgt. Anthony Allen
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea - In an article by Forbes Magazine about "The Most Stressful Jobs of 2014" enlisted military personnel were declared to have the most stressful job for the last year in America. Being separated from the family members, enduring heavy physical demands, and traveling frequently were some of the reasons of why.
In order to survive the stressful job, Soldiers may start hobbies, hang out with their buddies, or explore local communities.
Staff Sgt. Anthony Allen, a brigade religious specialist noncommissioned officer of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, plays a mandolin daily in his room to relieve his stress from the work and to make his life more productive.
"I was always interested in instruments," said Allen. "I played a banjo and guitar prior to mandolin. I just wanted to give it a try and I've been playing it exclusively since 2010."
A mandolin is a string instrument that outputs four different notes. It has eight strings in total: each pair of the strings working together to create different notes.
Allen said the first thing he does after work is pick up his mandolin at his room and plays it for a short amount of time, usually less than an hour. He sometimes plays it with his friend, Sgt. Elliot Valdez, a public affairs broadcast journalist of the 2nd ABCT, who plays a guitar as a hobby.
"It's great stress relief," said Allen. "If I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I go pick it up and jam out for half an hour. You can forget about what was going on in your life and just focus on one thing and it helps you to decompress."
Playing musical instruments not only provided him leisure times, but it also brought him opportunities to interact with other Soldiers. By participating in different band activities, Allen built camaraderie with his battle buddies.
"I participated in several bands before," said Allen. "I played some jam sessions when I was stationed in Maryland."
His participation continued even when he was deployed to Afghanistan.
"I joined in with a band that was coming through Afghanistan in 2013," said Allen. "It was an Air Force band and they had a mandolin player. I was sitting in my office when I heard somebody chopping on the mandolin. I recognized it and went out, met up with them and played two songs with them."
While being stationed in South Korea, Allen said he would like to perform a little concert on the musical street in Seoul with his friends. He is also planning on practicing jazz on mandolin during this nine months rotation.
Even though being a Soldier is tough, with a decent hobby or two, a Soldier should be able to endure their time in service and even enjoy it, said Allen.
"Find something productive that you enjoy doing and get better at it," Allen said. "Set time aside each day to practice."
Photo: Staff Sgt. Anthony Allen, a brigade religious specialist noncommissioned officer of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, is playing mandolin in his room at Camp Hovey, South Korea, Aug. 4. He has been playing mandolin since 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Lee Seo-won, 2ABCT PAO, 1st Cav. Div.)