Everyone joins the military for different reasons. Some to pursue a better life for themselves and their families — as others just want to blow sh*t up. That said, serving can take a toll, on not only the body but the mind.
The life you thought you wanted when you signed your DD-214 isn’t what you want anymore, and now you’re ready to make a change.
So here’s how the majority of veterans change within five years of leaving the military.
Many of us dream of hitting our EAOS (Expiration of Active Obligated Service) after seeing all the bullsh*t we faced on the day-to-day — sometimes even marking down the calendar. After a while, you begin to admit to yourself how much you miss it. It’s common.
Hopefully, when you salute — you render a proper one.
2. The Billy Madison effect (non-stop school)
Many of us joined the military after high school to avoid college because we didn’t know what career to take.
Then after a detailed meeting with the school’s guidance counselor, it appears that the path to your bachelor’s degree is going to take a while, and you’re probably going to be the oldest guy or gal in class.
You probably aren’t the smartest, but you can buy beer.
3. Career change (at least once)
Maturity plays the biggest role in personal change. The fact is, you don’t know yourself as well as you thought you did. After a few semesters of school, your mental fatigue of tests and quizzes are piling up. The realization sets in that maybe studying to be a mechanic or nurse just isn’t right for you anymore.
Typically, everyone in the military deploys at one time or another. Some experience more tragic events than others, and they may start to see life in different ways. In the end, do whatever makes you the happiest.
Can you name other ways you and your buddies changed? Comment below.
All good things must come to an end — including deployments. While getting out-of-country is the only goal, troops have a checklist of tasks that must be completed before they’re finally allowed to reunite with their families back home.
No one likes doing any of these tasks, especially when they’re already checked-out mentally.
6. Training up your replacements.
Meeting the new unit that comes in-country is the first sign that your deployment is almost over.
Getting people who are busy preparing for departure to teach the newbies that are completely lost is never an easy task, but hey, that’s the military.
5. Cleaning gear
In the Ancient Greek legend of Sisyphus, the protagonist is cursed with the never-ending task of rolling a boulder up a mountain just for it to roll down the hill when he nears the top.
This is much like the never-ending struggle of troops trying to sweep all of the dirt out of the motor pool in the desert. Sweep as you might, it’ll never end. It’ll get just good enough for inspection until it’s time to finally get out of country.
4. Sending gear back stateside
All of the troubles of selecting what you need and don’t need happens all over again — but in reverse. You’ll be putting gear away that you won’t see for a few months. It’s a fine idea for the extra parts of your sleeping system, but people who bring or buy video game consoles while deployed now have to worry about bringing it back home.
Of course, if you really wanted to make things easier (and you have the money for it), you could always use the postal service to send a tough box or two with your useful stuff.
Traveling through customs in the civilian world is a cinch. Flash your passport, fill out a form, and don’t bring anything that’ll set off any alarms.
Did you know that gunpowder residue trips U.S. Customs’ sensors? Damn near every combat arms troop does, too — all of our gear is covered in gunpowder residue. Even though we’re carrying our weapons with us, they’ll still look at you funny for that gunpowder residue.
2. The flight
It’s like being a kid on Christmas Eve again. Just a few more hours and you get what you want. You know you should probably catch some sleep on the plane but your blood is pumping too much.
All of the “whatever amount ofdays and a wake-up” are now in hours. Minutes. Seconds. You watch the GPS tracker on the plane more than the actual in-flight movies. The anxiety builds; landing can’t come soon enough.
1. That. Last. Formation. Before. Freedom.
Quick show of hands: Out of the countless times commanders have given a passionate speech to the friends and families of returning troops, how many are remembered by the troops?
Those months kind of fly by, but the last speech — you know, the one that starts with, “these fine gentlemen before you…” — goes in one ear and out the other. The only thing troops are focusing on is if they can find their loved ones in the crowd.
On Nov. 1, the CIA released a trove of files that former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had on his computer at the time of his death, and among them are children’s programs like “Tom and Jerry,” crocheting instructions, and the 2007 viral YouTube video “Charlie Bit My Finger.”
Although the majority of the documents, videos, images, and audio clips released by the CIA are related to bin Laden’s terror operations, some of the files are of a more benign nature. “Charlie Bit My Finger” appears under the file name “Tootin__Bathtub_Baby_Cousins.flv,” alongside numerous clips of the cartoon “Tom and Jerry” and Jackie Chan films. There are also instructions for crocheting butterflies, socks, and baskets.
The presence of so much children’s content can be explained by the fact that bin Laden was living with his family in the secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by US Navy Seal Team 6 in May 2011. Some of the videos in the files released by the CIA — like songs designed for children learning English — raise the possibility that bin Laden was schooling his children from the compound while he was in hiding.
Notably, the CIA decided not to release bin Laden’s large pornography stash in the Nov. 1 file dump.
Halloween is coming up, so we hope everyone has a great costume lined up, unlike most years when everyone just trades uniforms with a member of a different service for the night. Soldiers going as airmen, sailors going as Marines. It’s all cutting edge stuff.
Before you head into the housing areas to beg your first sergeants for candy, check out these 13 funny military memes:
No, it’s just your local veteran Airman. Undoubtedly, this Airman can pull off some amazing feats, like going days and days without sleep, surviving endless attempts at Enlisted Performance Report sabotage, and pulling a reflective belt out of seemingly nowhere.
It’s true, every Airman leaves service with a certain set of special abilities. Below are 7 of the top superpowers that every Airman possesses.
Careers across all the branches require us to stretch our body’s limitations. Depending on the circumstance and specific requirements, different aspects of our selves are tested. One of the most common sacrifices, though, is sleep. Airmen quickly learn to operate on minimal sleep.
8 hours per night? Right.
In some cases, you’ll be lucky to get 4.
6. Turbo dieting
Physical fitness is definitely a part of military culture. In this regard, the Air Force is a bit later to the party than some of our older, more steeled brethren.
On any given morning on the posts of our older brothers, you’ll likely find a squad or two doing some type of PT. This is true on Air Force bases, too. Well, kinda.
You’re just as likely to see a squadron doing regular PT as you are to see a cardio room full of crash-dieting Airmen trying to prepare for their Air Force Physical Training test… which is next week.
Fat boy, fat boy, where you been? (Image from Warner Bros.’ Full Metal Jacket).
5. Built Ford tough
We are good and strong, for the most part. At least for a while.
4. “Grin and bear it” champions
There is a common misconception that Airmen are akin to teenagers: quick to talk back and rebel. There are kernels of truth in this, as there are in most myths.
In today’s Air Force, it is much easier to have your career cut off by a simple mistake. It really is a one-mistake Air Force.
You are constantly on edge, so if you value your time in uniform and want it to continue, you might have to eat a bit of humble pie.
Well, actually, a lot of humble pie.
Like, the whole pie.
3. Acronym deciphering specialty
The U.S. Air Force, like the rest of the military, has fallen in unabashed love with acronyms.
Living in this environment turns your mind into an acronym making and breaking beast.
It is totally possible to get an email with the title, “USAF USN TRNG CQB SF Amn in AETC.”
The only constant is change.
Every Airmen, Marine, Sailor, and Soldier know this. It is embedded into us, if not through instruction, then certainly through the swift and immediate changes of course we experience without much notice.
The FNG goes to get that thing from one place. Say “sorry, kid, check with Sergeant Smith over there.” Now they have a name to face on Sergeant Smith and hopefully what they do. They keep getting bounced around until the salty supply dude gets fed up and scolds the poor kid.
They learned a lesson and enjoyed some face time with the team, and you get a good laugh. That, and they’re far more entertaining than those checklists you get at reception.
#1: Headlight Fluid
Motorpool Monday again. Since most boots can’t figure out how to turn on the headlights on a Humvee, let them know that it’s probably because they’re out of fluid.
#2: Exhaust Samples
While you’re still at the Motorpool, tell them that in order for dispatch to truly know how well the vehicle is running, they need an exhaust sample.
#3: Chem-light batteries
Chances are the rookie has little understanding of chemiluminescence and probably won’t pull “but it’s a chemical reaction caused by the mixing of two solutions being exposed together.”
If they do, they should probably get a pass until lunch.
#4: Box of Grid Squares
You’re about to go to the Land Navigation field and you are in “some serious need” for some grid squares.
I mean, technically, they could just give you a paper map and they wouldn’t be wrong.
#5: Prop/Rotor Wash
Didn’t think Aviation would get a pass on the 242nd Annual F*ck-F*ck Games, did you?
For the uninformed, Prop/Rotor Wash is back draft of air that the aircraft generates to create lift. It’s also the worst part about Air Assault FRIES jumps.
#6: Flight Line
New kid not leaving you alone while you maintain a multi-million dollar piece of equipment? Tell them you have to connect some flight line to the whatever. And while they’re at it, tell them to grab the left-handed monkey wrench.
#7: Pad Eye Remover
For obvious reasons, it’s best to remove the chains from the aircraft and not the ship. But the FNG doesn’t get obvious.
#8: The switch to lower the mast
Oh no! The ship is about to go underneath a bridge that other ships have gone under thousands of times over! Looks like it’s time to lower the mast!
The commander is the head of every unit — there’s no question about that. But sometimes, you just need the ‘neck’ of the unit to turn just slightly towards your paperwork to get it expedited. That ‘neck’ is the training room clerk.
Now, flat-out bribery is a UCMJ offense, but you don’t need to be all “Fat Leonard” to get things done the way that you want. Maybe you’ve got a school you really want to get to, an award packet that’s been sitting in the inbox for too long, or you’re kinda hoping that your leave packet gets approved. If the clerk is on your side, things will definitely be more pleasant.
These are 5 ways you can persuade that clerk. Remember, you’re not ‘buying’ your way through the training room — it’s their job, they should do it anyways — you’re just making friends.
5. Befriend them off duty
Training room staff usually are stuck in a vacuum. While most of the unit bonds over shared suffering, they’re often handling hand receipts or training calendars.
Invite them out for a drink and you’ve got yourself a friend on the inside.
4. Bring them stuff from the shopette
Once again, flat-out bribery is punishable under UCMJ. But is it still bribery if you’re just saying, “hey, training room clerk, I’m making a quick trip to the gas station. Want anything?”
Technically, yes, it’s bribery if your intent is obviously to get the paperwork done. It isn’t bribery, however, if one troop is just being nice to another.
3. Scratch their back first
There’s an old military saying about having four friends. You want to befriend “the cook, the medic, supply, and (insert whoever is saying the phrase).” It may sound trite, but it really does apply to everyone in every unit.
Of course, support MOS’s have more lucrative tokens with which to barter, but that doesn’t mean the combat arms guys can’t help the training room clerk be less of a POG.
Oh? You want more bacon? That’s funny, because I want to take leave… (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jesús Rodríguez)
2. Welcome them in doing “non-training room” things
Everyone joins the military for different reasons. That’s over two million people with over two million unique goals in life. One common thread, however, is that many enlist to satisfy a sense of adventure and for a chance to do cool sh*t. They probably didn’t join the military so they can skulk around an office all day.
This is what the combat arms guys bring to the table. Bring the training room guy along to the fun exercises and let them play soldier for a few hours. That way, they can get back to processing your boring paperwork feeling a bit more accomplished.
1. Don’t be a dick
Simply put, raising your voice at them won’t work. It may feel like you’re accomplishing something when you watch a private wet themselves, but it probably won’t make them shuffle your paperwork to the top.
Yes, they should move at the military’s pace and not their own. If there’s a real problem, address it in a professional manner. If the kid is left alone with stacks of paperwork, cut them some slack and at least pretend like you empathize with them.
Every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces has built up a solid supply of memes. Eventually, the Space Corps will become the sixth branch. So, why not help the Space Corps get started with a few memes of their own? After all, the branch itself has become one giant meme…
…come on, “Space Force?”
You know they’ll be salty all over when the Space Corps gets in, too.
(via Claw of Knowledge)
The desire to know more intensifies…
I don’t even want to imagine the hell that will be zero-gravity latrine cleaning…
Nobody wants to do work. It’s just one of those boxes that need to be checked every single day.
Maybe you’re just not feeling like dealing with a handful of mundane tasks that day. Perhaps you see an avalanche of bullsh*t barreling downhill and you’d rather not get run over. You might just be trying to earn your initiation into the E-4 Mafia / Lance Corporal Underground.
Whatever your personal motivations, be sure to try a few of these tricks for getting through the day without raising suspicions.
“Yep. That’s a thing. Better move onto that other thing over there.”
There’s no skating method more tried and true than walking around with a clipboard and randomly stopping to look at things. For maximum effect, pretend like you’re checking for and marking off serial numbers.
As much as we all love this one — and believe me, it’s a classic — people catch on after a while.
Just be sure to pick up a few things. Not a lot, though — remember, you’re still trying to be lazy.
(Photo by Cpl. Michael Dye)
Walk around with a trash bag
This one’s similar to the clipboard, but this time, you’re being “proactive” by helping clean up the place.
If you take your time and maybe even clean some things up, you can help prevent an actual police call of the company area.
Why do you think so many NCOs volunteer to do this? You think most NCOs do it to keep unit integrity? Hell no.
(U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)
Help motivate the stragglers during PT
During every morning run, there’s always that one person who just barely keeps up with everyone’s pace. Eventually, they start slowing down. That’s your opportunity to slow down with them and help “bring them back.”
They may not be able to keep up and might fall out completely. But until then, you get a chance to catch your breath and look like you’re helping push your battle buddy along in the process.
No one is immune to the lure of the gut truck!
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ben K. Navratil)
Call the gut truck but DON’T go to it
Need the perfect distraction for about ten to twenty minutes? Call the gut truck. People will think you’re doing them all a favor and that you’re taking ten seconds to call up the truck out of the kindness of your heart.
Immediately, everyone from the lowest private to the senior officers will drop what they’re doing to grab a quick bite to eat. That’s your cue to enjoy the silence until they get back.
No one will notice that you’re secretly making everyone run slower.
(Photo by Sgt. Natalie Dillon)
No one ever questions or understands how vital the cadence caller is to morning PT.
Think about it: The entire platoon/company isn’t just running at the pace of the lead runner, it’s running at the pace of the person calling cadence. The unit moves to the rhythm of every beat. If you control that rhythm, things will move at your pace.
Fake it ’til you make it.
(U.S. Army Courtesy photo)
Just look motivated
If there’s any common thread between skaters across all branches, it’s that they all need to pretend like they’re excited and happy to be there.
A fake smile will take you everywhere. If you look good, you are good, right?
We sometimes overlook the accurate and fantastic portrayals of veterans and troops in fiction, instead criticizing Hollywood’s typical depiction of us as hyper-macho, high-speed ass-kicking machines or broken and fragile husks of human beings.
For a good portion of the armed services, this is far from the truth. This isn’t a grunt versus POG (Person Other than Grunt) thing. It’s a symptom of the civilian-military divide.
There seems to be a perpetual cycle of fiction blowing real military service out of proportion. Civilians who never interacted with service members often believe that fictional portrayal.
Let’s be honest. Veterans are combating the stigma, but it’s an uphill battle.
Hell, most of the stories we tell at bars aren’t helping.
This one goes out to the creators, writers, directors, and actors that gave the world a veteran and stayed away from the stigma. Either intentionally or not, these characters either embody what it was truly like in the service or have exceptional moments that can overlook some of the more silly moments.
If you can think of any others left out, leave them in the comment section.
1. Sgt. Bill Dauterive – “King of the Hill”
Though the 022 MOS doesn’t exist anymore, Bill from “King of the Hill” was a U.S. Army Barber. There are several episodes dedicated to his military service. The 2007 episode “Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies” even revolved around him trying to get in shape to pass his APFT.
How he manages to go on all the adventures in the show and not be considered AWOL is also a plot point.
2. Capt. Frank Castle, aka “The Punisher” – Marvel Comics
Not every superhero gets their powers from a science experiment, being an alien, or just being super rich.
Frank Castle, The Punisher, learned his skills in the Marine Corps. Sure. He’s an extreme representation of a veteran. But The Punisher earns his spot on this list because of Jon Bernthal’s monologue in Season 2 of “Daredevil.” His performance and his story about his return from a deployment hits close to home for many people.
3. King Robert Baratheon – A Song of Fire and Ice, “Game of Thrones”
Let’s take away medieval fantasy elements of “Game of Thrones” and recognize that Robert Baratheon used to be a proud, respected, and feared soldier on the front lines.
Ever since putting his service behind him, he got fat, grew a glorious beard, spent his time drinking, hunting, and talking about his glory days. Sound like anyone you know from your old unit?
4. Pfc. Donny Novitski and his band — “Bandstand”
A Tony Award winning musical may seem an unlikely place to find a true to life depiction of a WWII veteran, but it’s the only Broadway musical with an official “Got Your 6” certification.
The musical is about a group of young vets returning home who form a band to try to reach stardom (the same half thought out plan we all had while we were downrange).
The lead character, Donny, spends most of the story showing his bandmates and the world their sacrifice and talents.
Veterans who’ve seen the show praise it. At the end of every show, they thank the troops around the world and dedicate each performance to a different veteran.
5. Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – “M*A*S*H”
The Capt. Hawkeye character is beloved by many for its accuracy. He was drafted right after his medical residency to deploy to the Korean War. Everything about his character was a fresh change to the ordinary war hero cliche.
He resented the Army for drafting him. Each loss of life affected him as the series progressed. He used humor to help cope with the daily stress of combat.
In the 1978 episode “Commander Pierce,” Hawkeye is temporarily in charge of the 4077th. For one episode, he drastically made the very real change to become the leader that his soldiers needed before reverting back to fit the semi-episodic formula.
6. Capt. Kathryn Janeway – “Star Trek: Voyager”
While on the topic of the burdens of leadership, the character that best exemplifies this is the commander of the USS Voyager. Many of the ongoing struggles in the series revolve around how Capt. Kathryn Janeway deals with the safety of the crew, the dream of returning home, and hiding her internal doubt.
Oh, and she always drinks coffee, and she always drinks it black.
The senile grandpa of the Simpson family is often the butt of many jokes. His long term memory is hazy and his short term memory isn’t any better.
But then there’s the 1996 “Flying Hellfish” episode. Art and story-wise, this episode is vastly different from most, and is regarded as one of the best in the series.
Grandpa Abe and Bart go on an adventure to reclaim the treasure Abe found back in World War II. Back in the day, Grandpa was a very competent and tactful leader.
When his unit, which also included series antagonist Mr. Burns, discover a fortune in stolen Nazi paintings, they place a life bet on who keeps them.
While Mr. Burns is willing to kill for the prize, Abe still holds onto his honor and loyalty to his unit after all those years. At the end, when the paintings are confiscated by police, Abe tells his grandson why he went after the paintings. “It was to show you that I wasn’t always a pathetic old kook,” he said.
8. Sgt. Donald Duck – Disney
The sailor suit he always wears isn’t just for show or stolen valor, Donald Duck legitimately was in the Navy and Army Air Force (hence why, in 1984, he was officially given the rank of sergeant and discharge by the real world Army on his 50th anniversary).
Hear me out on this.
In World War I, Walt Disney attempted to join the U.S. Army but was rejected for being too young. He then forged documents to join the Red Cross.
In France, the cartoons he sketched grabbed the attention of Stars and Stripes, later becoming the icon we all know today. In WWII, his love of country and understanding of how propaganda worked lead Disney to use Donald Duck to help the troops.
The “Buck Sergeant Duck” was used in counter-propoganda cartoons and recruitment shorts, even winning an Oscar for “Der Feuhrer’s Face.”
His time in both the Army and Navy is well depicted in many forms — from cartoons to comics. In “DuckTales,” Donald leaves his nephews because he’s being shipped out, which starts the series. The cartoon “Donald Gets Drafted” shows Donald learning (in an exaggerated manner) that recruiters sometimes tell fibs to get bodies in the door.
Even his short temper, aggression, loud voice, cynical attitude, and unprovoked tantrums aren’t a concept lost on veterans.
Whenever a military film comes on and the fictional non-commissioned officer gets heated, it’s always the same routine. “Drop and give me twenty.”
The truth is, that exact phrase isn’t actually used much in the military. Not because push-ups aren’t a thing in the military — they are — but NCOs tend to have more unique and clever punishments in mind — especially if you’ve really pissed them off.
Here are a few examples of “character development” that have been used on us:
#1. Flip the rocks ‘so they can get a sun tan.’
The pain of one Joe who messed up royally can sting far after they ETS.
In front of some company, battalion, or brigade headquarters are a bunch of rocks. Each is painted with a color on one side, and another color on the other. Whoever gets the unfortunate task of painting the rocks gives future disobedient soldiers a lighter punishment: to flip the rocks from one color to the other. The next guy who acts up flips ’em back.
Sound boring and tedious? That’s because it is.
#2. Mop the rain off the motorpool.
The idea behind creative corrective actions is to be give them a nearly impossible task to emphasize how badly they screwed up with a dash of hilarity to maximize the point.
Both can be achieved by making their dumb ass mop up the rain or sweep the grass.
#3. Carry around an oversized version of what they lost.
Whenever you see some poor schmuck toting a giant pice of cardboard drawn to look like a CAC, you know they left their ID card one day.
Why stop there?
If they lose their weapon, make them carry a stupidly large cardboard “rifle” that they must refer to as their “wife-le”. They lost track of time? Give them one of Flava Flav’s old clocks. The sky is the limit!
#4. Carry around a potted plant ‘to replace the oxygen they’re wasting.’
Do you have one of those “just can’t get anything right” soldiers? Are they a waste of space and oxygen?
Make them replace all of that beautiful oxygen they’re hogging with their very own plant to put something back in the air.
#5. Making the troop on a ‘dead-man’s profile’ blink in cadence.
There’s always that one cocky junior guy that is quick to pull out the “Nuh-uh Sergent! You can’t make me do sh*t!”
Get ’em. Anything done a thousand times in cadence can become a living hell.
#6. Fill sandbags with nothing but a white towel that you expect to come back clean.
This one always catches the smart asses if you leave them unsupervised. Take the typical deployment punishment to the next level by giving them only a white towel to clean off the sandbags when they finish. The bags must stay at one point and the dirt is a yard or so away.
A good Joe will fill the sandbags by hand and save the towel for the end and leave just trace amount of dirt on them. The smart ass will get lazy and use the towel to carry more sand into the bag and try to finish earlier. If they towel is dirty or if the task is done too soon. You caught them.
#7. Cutting Sgt. Major’s grass with sewing-kit scissors.
An oldie, but a goodie.
There’s a perfectly good sidewalk to use. There’s no need to step on the Sgt. Major’s grass. Give them the most useless tool at AAFES to do the most tedious task for the most amount of time.
The grass will grow back to what it was by the time they finish the field.
#8. Greeting of the day is repeating whatever they screwed up on to everyone.
Make them the example to remind others not to follow.
“Good morning, Sergeant. Be sure not to leave your helmet at the range!” over and over again should hopefully embarrass them enough to never do that again.
Extra points if it’s for a dirty barracks room and you have them use their dirty socks as sock puppets. “Good afternoon, specialist… Be sure to clean your barracks room…”