Military jobs all seem pretty similar from the outside. Everyone shoots at the range, everyone gets compensated according to the same pay tables, and everyone gets yelled at by the people with fancier symbols on their uniforms.
But some military jobs have hidden perks that just come with the territory. For example, if the mission requires that a soldier have access to the internet, then that soldier can usually use the internet for other stuff as long as they don’t abuse the privilege. So here are six jobs with hidden perks that help make life a little more bearable:
1. Corpsmen/medics usually have fridge access for medicines.
There are only a few groups of people who regularly had access to refrigeration during a deployment to the burning hot desert. The cooks (more on them later) and the medical folks — at smaller bases, this means Navy corpsmen and Army and Air Force medics.
The medical personnel need refrigeration to keep certain medicines from going bad. But whatever area of the fridge that’s left over is usually divvied up by the medics to keep drinks cold, a rare luxury on some bases.
2. The cooks also have refrigerators … and spare food.
The cooks have even greater access to fridges than the medics, and they can sometimes grab extra food and energy drinks to trade or share. Most forward operating bases with dining facilities feed hundreds of soldiers and Army recipes are usually written for batches of 100 servings.
It’s basically impossible to make and order the exact amount of food needed for any meal, so there’s always some spare servings of something left over — sometimes cooked and sometimes waiting to be cooked. Cooks will trade away those unused 15 servings of ribs or chicken to others for special favors.
3. Public Affairs has usually has Facebook access even when the rest of the base is on blackout.
The gatekeepers of the unit Facebook page, meanwhile, have their own great perk. When the rest of the base is put on communications blackout, public affairs troops are still required to keep the unit’s social media pages going to reassure family members back home and to keep up normal appearances.
This requires that the PA shop always has access to Facebook and Twitter, meaning its soldiers can exchange messages with family and update their own pages even when the base was otherwise blacked out.
4. Pilots and flight line folks have the best trading opportunities.
Anyone who is intimately involved in flight operations knows how to trade with people from other bases, ships, whatever, and they’ll take advantage of it. See, the economy on a deployment is limited to what goods are actually useful on the base. Pay sits in bank accounts while most people are trading the limited supply of available chewing tobacco and Girl Scout cookies.
But flight operations people have access to goods and services that are housed in another Navy ship or on another base. That means that they can trade items that only Kandahar Air Field or Sigonella has.
5. Combat camera is basically military tourism.
Look, combat camera is full of brave people who wade into battle to document it and share stories with the American public and military leaders. This isn’t to disparage them or the work they do, but they’re basically military tourists.
If some unit is doing a cool training operation on the beaches of Italy or special operators are breaking into a Taliban fortress, there’s a decent chance that some combat cameraman is getting flown out there to document it. And they leave the service with their own collection of unclassified photos, making them some of the only people with multimedia support for their war stories.
6. Signal guys get admin access to the computers.
This one may sound less than impressive, but it’s actually amazing. See, military computer networks have a lot of user restrictions, but the IT guys within the communications shops are in charge of implementing those user restrictions, so they get admin logins.
That means that they have more access to whatever they want on the internet even when deployed, provided that they don’t abuse the privilege. So, they’ll have Facebook access even when public affairs is locked out and can set their own internet to have priority access when bandwidth gets tight.