7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life - We Are The Mighty
Lists

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

We’ve all been lectured about what parts of military life are most relevant in the civilian world — things like showing up on time and being respectful. Those things are mostly nonsense and ingredients in a recipe for disaster when you make the transition. Here’s WATM’s list of 7 skills you learned that got you by during your time in uniform — military “life hacks” — that’ll make life on the outside easier and more productive:


1. Doing more with less

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (in)famously said, “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want.” But that reality isn’t an excuse for failure. The American people still expect their military to win the war. (They don’t always act like it, but they do.) Same deal in civilian life. You won’t have all the resources you need to make the sale or close the campaign, but the company still expects you to get it done.

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: DVIDS)

 

2. Embracing the suck

Remember how you started each deployment with optimism and enthusiasm? Remember how those things were crushed by the end of the first month in theater? But about that same time you realized that sitting around and complaining about it wasn’t going to make the rest of the time any easier. The same thing is true in civilian life. Every job has its suck. You want to play golf for a living? Get ready to spend ninety percent of your time away from home. But don’t sit around the clubhouse bitching about it.

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Army)

 

3. Being resourceful on the road

Even at the combat outpost in Paktika Province – without running water or air conditioning – you managed to whip up your favorite tuna slider recipe, figure out that Jason Aldean song, and keep your Facebook status updated. Those mad skills will come in handy when the company sends you on that client roadshow or to that training seminar. The complimentary wifi won’t work. The treadmill in the hotel gym will be broken. The conference room will run out of electrical outlets. Tough luck. Get it done, soldier. And keep your toes tapping.

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Soldier jams on an acoustic guitar among the Hesco barriers at a combat outpost in Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)

 

4. Stepping up to solve problems beyond your billet description

It was a party foul to say “that’s not my job” during your time in uniform. Many times you had to come out of your lane to make sure things got done in the face of others inadvertently overlooking their responsibilities. Same thing happens on the outside. Somebody’s about to forget the glossy brochures for that key client presentation. Somebody forgot to do Item No. Three on the “Night Shift Shipping Procedures” checklist. If you see it, solve it.

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Combat Outpost Keating in the snow of Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army)

 

5. Realizing that everyone above your paygrade is dangerously clueless 

At times it seemed like the sole purpose of the chain of command was to try and kill you. Your watch section tried to wash you overboard. Your flight lead tried to fly you into the ground. Your skipper assigned you for a mission with no real idea of what it was going to take to get you safely back. Welcome to the business world. While the consequences of ineptitude might be less life threatening, that same healthy paranoia regarding those in charge is a good idea.

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
SecDef Donald Rumsfeld testifying that everything is just fine. (Photo: DoD)

 

6. Knowing the value of a good wingman

The buds got you back to the ship after a big night of liberty. They kept you out of jail in Turkey. They gave you that timely heads up when the Gunny was about to come down on you with both feet. Those same kinds of folks will come in handy in civilian life. (And your regional manager might have gunny-like tendencies from time-to-time).

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Sailors from the USS South Dakota on liberty in Japan during the ’50s. (Photo: U.S. Navy archives)

7. KEEPING YOUR SENSE OF HUMOR WHEN THINGS GET BAD

You know how you stayed sane in the military by laughing stuff off? Don’t lose your sense of humor when you trade multicam for mufti. You’re going to need it for the same reasons you needed it when things got rough in uniform.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
French Resistance member Georges Blind smiling in front of a German execution squad, October 1944. (It was a mock execution intended to make him talk.) (Photo: Nat’l Archives)

Lists

5 social media influencers that served in the military

Many believe that the true rise of social media began after Google bought out the video streaming service, YouTube, for $1.65 billion in 2006.


Since then, billions of people around the globe have documented their lives and ran successful businesses through various social media networks.

Out of those billions, only a handful of those people are considered “social influencers.” And out of that handful, an even smaller number are military veterans.

Related: Every way not to use social media in the military summed up in recent video

1. Dakota Meyer

This Medal of Honor recipient enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 after graduating high school. During a deployment to Afghanistan, Sgt. Meyer disregarded his own safety to find and save fellow members of his embedded training team while under a curtain of enemy fire.

For his efforts, Sgt. Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by former President Obama in September of 2011. Now, Dakota continues to spread the stories of the outstanding men with whom he once served.

Today, Dakota’s social media following is one truly fit for a motivated hero. His audience has grown to nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter, 600,000 on his Facebook page, and a respectable 20,000 viewers on his YouTube channel.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Dakota Meyer with his Marine brothers. (DakotaMeyer.com)

2. Don Shipley

If you ever have a second thought about a guy claiming to be a Navy SEAL, what better way to find out the truth than contacting a real one? After serving 24 years in the Navy as a SEAL Senior Chief, this well-respected badass retired in 2003. Now, this former-SEAL busts stolen-valor phonies and even shows up to their residence to meet them face-to-face.

You can watch his hilarious, phony-SEAL-busting videos on his YouTube channel, Buds 131, along with his loyal audience of nearly 180,000 people.

If you receive a call from this Navy badass, chances are, you’re about to get busted for stolen freakin’ valor.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Don Shipley and his wife, Diane. (Don Shipley Facebook)

3. Jacqueline Carrizosa

This motivated Navy sailor served as both a gunner’s mate and rescue swimmer during her honorable years of service. Since then, she’s worked on various films projects, including the series Oscar Mike and Peter Berg’s Battleship.

You can watch her get an awesome tattoo that pays tribute to her Navy days in an episode of USAA’s channel original series, Service and Ink. She also supports the Team 5 Foundation that travels far and wide to provide medical care to poverty-stricken countries.

Today, Jackie’s social audience is growing at a serious rate as her Instagram follows tally up to 132,000.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

4. Max Uriarte

Uriarte joined the Marine Corps in 2006 as a 0351 Marine Assaultman and was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Uriarte deployed to Iraq twice with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2007 and 2009.

During Uriarte’s four years of enlistment in the Corps, he served as a SMAW gunner, team leader, squad leader, .50Cal gunner, combat photographer, and a combat artist.

In 2010, Uriarte started the hit comic strip, Terminal Lance, which soon became the single most popular comic strip in the military.

Now, Max has over 15,000 followers on Instagram and his Terminal Lance Facebook page is followed by nearly 700,000 loyal fans.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

Also Read: 7 reasons why social media is the devil while on a deployment

5. Dulce Candy

Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Dulce joined the U.S. Army in 2006, became a certified generator mechanic, and was stationed Fort Hood, Texas. Soon after, she deployed to Iraq for a 15 months and experienced the intensity of war.

After returning home, she continued to work as a mechanic, until she turned on her camera and began discussing makeup and fashion culture on YouTube.

Today, she has over 1.1 million followers on Instagram, 2.2 million subscribers on YouTube, and is close to reaching 1 million on Facebook.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Dulce Candy YouTube)

Articles

13 funniest military memes for the week of Feb. 17

The week is over, but the memes are neverending. Check out 13 of our favorite military memes of the week below:


1. This woobie is my woobie, and we have seen unspeakable things together (via Pop smoke).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Just take the statement of charges, dude. It’s worth it.

2. “Build a wall over the tunnel!”

(via Military World)

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Yeah, that doesn’t stop Marines.

3. The flight line plays by its own rules. Like criminal gangs do (via Air Force Memes Humor).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

ALSO SEE: The CIA just declassified these 11 Russian jokes about the Soviet Union

4. Admit it, when you’re in contact, you would rather those Chair Force fellows were in the chairs than in the gym (via Military Memes).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Course, they could go practice some ruck marching when they’re off duty.

5. Dream away, fellows. Dream away (via Pop smoke).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Take a look at the age of that baby. You left her newly pregnant when you deployed and thought you would come back to her full of energy?

6. First sergeants were trying to save your life, Bubba (via Team Non-Rec).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Also would have helped if you kept your dang feet dry, like L-T told you to.

7. Oh yeah, sir? Those were your accomplishments?

(via Shit my LPO says)

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Guess I’ll just go over here and keep typing your reports for you.

8. Just give it some liberty, man. Those claws look sharp (via Pop smoke).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Maybe throw in some donut holes for free.

9. D-mnit, Carl. You never learned to secure your weapon? (via Military World)

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Guess who’s going swimming?

10. When you find out where Jodie goes after the housing area:

(via The Salty Soldier)

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

11. Turns me on (via NavyMemes.com).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Haze grey and underway.

12. Ummmm … I’m fine, bro. Keep your motivation to yourself (via The Salty Soldier).

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
And if that cadence caller could shut up, too, that’d be great.

13. You can tell the safety NCO is phoning it in when:

(via Coast Guard Memes)

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Maybe keep some water bottles handy for the foreseeable future.

Lists

20 amazing tattoos inspired by Navy life

There was a time when the only Westerners who sported tattoos were sailors.


Tattoos in Western culture can be traced back to Captain James Cook’s visit with the Maori people in the 1700s. His crew decided to get them as souvenirs, and the Western tattoo culture started from there, according to Steve Gilbert in his book Tattoo History.

Traditional sailor tattoos symbolized experiences such as travel, achievements, rank, status, significant life events, superstitions, and more. These are a few examples of the meaning behind traditional sailor tattoos:

  • Anchor: associated with the Boatswain’s Mate rate or Chief rank, but also symbolizes safety and stability
  • Dragon: associated with service in Asia
  • Nautical Star: symbolizes the North star and guide for a safe return home
  • Lighthouse: symbolizes safe passage to home port
  • Old sailor or captain: symbolizes life experiences
  • Rudder: symbolizes control of a destiny

Sailor tattoos fell out of style for several decades but made a comeback thanks to pop culture. Today, sailor tattoos are more popular than ever — and not just with sailors. Celebs, musicians, sorority girls, homemakers, techies — everybody’s getting inked.

Here are some of the coolest Navy-inspired designs recently sighted around the web:

1. Old sailor

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Roman Abrego @romantattos/Instagram

2. Captain Jack Sparrow

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Roman Abrego @romantattoos/instagram

3. Portrait of a sailor

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

Photo: küstenmädel/Pinterest

4. Ship on the horizon

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Katelyn King/Pinterest

5. Golden chain captain

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Eric Roest/Pinterest

6. Popeye The Sailor Man

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Mary Martin/Pinterest

7. Vintage photo of Captain Elvy

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: William Black/Pinterest

8. Ship’s wheel

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Brittany Cozzens/Pinterest

9. Crown and anchor

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Kaley Mckeithen

10. Dangers of the sea

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Daniel Fonseca/Pinterest

11. Sailor’s grave

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Korenn Pendleton

12. Set sail 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Emily Hartung

13. Octopus grappling a diver helmet

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Worldtattoogallery/Pinterest

14. Deep sea diver

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Kyle Scarry/Pinterest

15. There’s a million more miles to roam tattoo

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Sma Barn/Pinterest

16. Octopus coming out of the skin

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Brittnie Cudo/Pinterest

17. Set sail in traditional American style

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Bryan Fahey/Pinterest

18. Sailor kissing nurse

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Sean Dustman/Pinterest

19. Poseidon

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Jared Scott/Pinterest

20. Sailor smoking his pipe

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Pietro Sedda/Tumblr

 

 

NOW: The US military took these incredible photos in just a week

OR: 11 reactions to seeing your relief show up after a long watch

popular

8 things civilians should know before dating someone in the military

Dating a service member is different than dating a civilian. But just how much different is it? Here are eight things to consider before jumping into a relationship with someone in uniform.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Bill Johnson-Miles

1. Service members are independent and you should be too.

Troops have to deploy, which means not having him or her around for important events like anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. If you’re a person that constantly needs their physical presence, dating a service member is probably the wrong choice.

2. Don’t be jealous.

Most of the U.S. military is integrated. They deploy to remote locations and work long hours with members of the opposite sex. You’ll have a hard time trusting your significant other if you’re naturally jealous.

3. Don’t overly display supportive military gear like you’re rooting for your favorite sports team.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Presumably not milspouses here, but similar energy to some (U.S. Army photo)

It’s okay to be proud of your boyfriend or girlfriend serving in the military, but you can take it a bit too far. Gear includes t-shirts, bumper stickers, jewelry and more. You may think it’s cute and supportive, but you’ve just painted a target on the back of your significant other as the butt of many jokes.

4. It’s not being mean, it’s tough love.

Service members are used to direct communication, so avoid that passive aggressive, vague, manipulative language that your mother-in-law likes to use. Direct communication is instilled from day one in the military. I can still remember my drill instructor yelling, “say what you mean, and mean what you say!”

5. There will be secrets.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
It could always be worse…

Depending on their specialty, service members are trained to be more guarded than others. This is especially true with members that require a clearance to do their job. You can poke and prod all you want, but it’s not going to happen. You’ll have to be okay with not knowing that part of their life.

6. You have to be willing to move.

If you’re looking for a life partner in the military, you’ve got to be willing to give up ties to a specific location. This could mean giving up your career and being away from family. Some service members move every three years. Are you willing to live like a nomad?

7. You have to be flexible.

Plans might change or be canceled at the last minute. One moment they’re free to go on a date night, the next day they’re pulling an all-nighter. Same goes for weekends. Just because they spend one weekend with you doesn’t mean that next weekend will be the same.

8. Learn to tolerate his buddies.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(U.S. Air Force photo by Rick Berry)

The military is a brotherhood. Their lives depend on this special bond, so don’t think that they can just go out and get new friends. Learn to get along with friends, even the annoying immature one.


Feature image: U.S. Army

popular

Troops pick which Army job is the best

People approach joining the Army as if all soldiers are the same, but there are actually a ton of different jobs recruits can enlist for. And since soldiers are willing to leave reviews on sites like Glassdoor.com, it’s easy to see which recruits might re-enlist without prompting and which will spend the next few years counting down to the end of their contract.


1. Human Resources Specialists

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Army Sgt. Jason Means

Human resource specialists apparently love being in the Army, giving it a rating of 4.3 out of 5. It looks like sitting behind a desk at headquarters isn’t a bad way to earn the GI Bill.

2. Psychological Operations

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Bedet

Psychological Operations soldiers gave their career a 4.3 as well. Multiple reviewers cited their free foreign language training and incentive pays as reasons they like their job.

3. Artillerymen

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Army

Artillery has the highest rating of the combat arms branches with a 4.1. Considering the fact that they get to pull strings and make stuff go boom all day, this isn’t a huge shocker.

4. Combat Engineer

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Army Sgt. 1st Class Michel Sauret

 

Considering the fact that combat engineers are stuck with missions like route clearance, it’s surprising that they rated their time serving as a 4 out of 5. But sappers are crazy like that and explosives are fun.

5. Communications specialists

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Pfc. Chris McKenna

 

The Commo guys also gave the Army a 4 out of 5. This is a broad category, including everyone from Satellite Communications Operators to Cable Systems Installer-Maintainers.

6. Army Pilots

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Rissmiller

 

Helicopters are awesome, and their pilots rated serving at 3.9 out of 5. Some of the lower ratings came from OH-58 pilots who are understandably disappointed that the Army has gotten rid of their scout aircraft.

7. Cavalry

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Navy Chief Photographer’s Mate Edward Martens

 

Cavlarymen cited their long work hours and the danger of combat arms as drawbacks, but the adrenaline rush, The benefits, and working outside were huge positives. The average review was a 3.9.

8. Army Special Forces

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bradley C. Church

Like the cavalry, Special Forces soldiers gave the Army a 3.9. Reviews cited the incentive pays for Special Forces and the professional environment as big positives. SF guys also get free language training.

9. Intel Analyst

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Army Spc. Nathan Goodall

 

Intelligence analysts gave the Army a 3.8 out of 5. In charge of collecting data from the battlefield and figuring out what the enemy is doing, these guys spend a lot of time locked in secure offices seeing photos and reports no one else gets to.

10. Army Infantry

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Shane Hamann

 

The iconic rifleman may be all over the recruiting posters, but sleeping on rocks and rucking 100 pounds of gear isn’t exactly an ideal weekend. They still gave their employer a 3.7 rating, so it must not be all bad.

11. Army Medic

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Photo: US Army Staff Sgt. Kaily Brown

Everyone loves medics, but they only rated the Army as a 3.6, so the feeling isn’t mutual. That 3.6 probably comes from their easy access to IV bags for curing hangovers, not from having to look at everyone else’s infections.

Lists

16 intense photos that show how sailors fight fires at sea

Firefighting is dangerous, scary work even when it’s done on solid ground where firemen can fall back if the flames get too fierce.


Sailors at sea, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. They have to battle the fire on a ship filled with fuel. And failure means that the ship, the only home they have on the waves, will sink and take some of their brothers with it.

To keep everyone as safe as possible, the Navy uses dedicated firefighters and cross-trains some sailors to assist them in an emergency. Here’s how they prepare to protect their floating cities from burning up:

1. They conduct frequent drills in their firefighting equipment.

 

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mason M. Gillan)

2. They keep full firefighting suits on board and practice using them in hallways and other tight areas.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes)

3. To help them spot flames behind bulkheads or in sections filled with thick smoke, firefighters carry thermal imaging devices.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Patrick Enright)

4. The Navy Firefighting Thermal Imager displays infrared video that can show sources of heat even when there’s no visible light or thick smoke obscures firefighters’ vision.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ellen Hilkowski)

5. Firefighters have to operate as teams to stay safe in flame-filled areas of the ship.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher S. Haley)

6. The ship’s spaces can turn into a living hell once the flames start to spread.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes)

7. Frequent communication is key to keeping everyone safe and fighting the fire.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bill Dodge)

8. While firefighters are forced to concentrate on saving the ship, rescuing injured personnel is also a huge part of the mission.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ryan U. Kledzik)

9. If an aircraft is aflame on the flight deck, sometimes the best option is to cut out any survivors and then throw the plane or helicopter overboard. The Navy practices for this possibility on land.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Cdr. Chad Falgout)

10. It’s best to fight fires while they’re small, which is why suited up firefighters will position themselves to respond during dangerous landings.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeanette Mullinax)

11. Ships have some automated systems to help firefighters. Here, sailors practice with firefighting foam during ship trials.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dennis Grube)

12. Sailors often compete in “Damage Control Olympics” where they try to show who’s the best at putting out fires and other damage control activities.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bryan Mai)

13. Other preventative training includes simulated firefighting on the ship.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Stumberg)

14. Different flags are used for various types of fire, and observers will keep track of how teams respond.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht)

15. Teams learn to respond during an actual emergency through realistic training scenarios.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Grady T. Fontana)

16. There’s just a thin yellow line between sailors and the potentially catastrophic danger of a fire, and the Navy works hard to make sure that line is as robust as possible.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Sykes)

Lists

5 awesome foreign awards US troops are allowed to wear

You may be looking fresh with that stack of awards and badges, but cool flashy medals are reserved for the most prestigious of US military awards.


But how do you stand out at your next unit ball or dress inspection? Rock some foreign ones, that’s how.

Everything on this list is subjective and doesn’t cover every single foreign award authorized for troops.

Even if you do, regulations dictate you’re only authorized to wear one foreign badge with other decorations in order of presentation. The award also falls under the original nation’s regulations and some badges are purely honorary awards (meaning you can’t wear them).

Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) and Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)

Ever wondered what was at the bottom right of the medals of your salty senior non-commissioned officer who has been in since the Persian Gulf War? Technically these two are the same medal and technically they’re foreign awards.

The Kuwait Liberation Medal was given by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to members of the armed forces who served in Operation Desert Storm between Jan. 17 and Feb. 28, 1991. It still holds the condition that the troop must have served 30 consecutive days (which gives you only 17 days of wiggle room), but given instantly if they saw combat

The Government of Kuwait awarded one to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm between Aug. 2, 1990 and Aug. 31, 1993.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

French Commando Badge

No matter what jokes people say about the French military, their commandos are beasts. This badge is adorned by those bad asses and their foreign graduates, and it’s a rare opportunity for American troops to get accepted into French Commando schools.

The training is a grueling three weeks that tests your survival skills in the field. If you can get in and graduate, the badge is one of the coolest designed badges of all American allies.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Image via Eaglehorse)

Any foreign jump wings

Foreign jump wings are awarded to U.S. parachutists when they complete training in a foreign country under a foreign commanding officer. In order to qualify, you must already have the U.S. Parachutist Basic Badge. Then it all depends on your unit to do a joint jump between American troops and their military.

A lot of the awards have a similar design to the U.S. badge. Hands down, the coolest design goes to Polish Parachute badge. First worn by the Cichociemni (WWII Special Operations paratrooper literally called “The Silent Unseen”) the diving eagle has several variations like those worn by Poland’s GROM and other troops.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Brandon Anderson, 13th Public Affairs Detachment)

Fourragères

These ones are more unit citations than personal awards. This has the easy benefit of just being lucky enough to be in a unit that was awarded a fourragère in the past but it also means that you won’t stand out against anyone who’s also in your unit. These are decorative cords with golden aglets (tips).

Awarded to units that served gallantly in the eyes of French, Belgian, Portuguese, and South Vietnamese armies (Luxembourg also has fourragères but they never authorized foreign units to wear one), the color denotes mentions and honors. Just like with normal unit citations, if you are in the unit when it was awarded, you keep it for life.

Don’t expect to see anyone wearing one outside of a designated unit, though, because these were last given in 1944.

Related: This is why some Marines wear the ‘French Fourragere,’ and some don’t

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Photo by Sgt. Jon Haugen, North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs)

German Armed Forces Badge of Marksmanship

I didn’t want to make this in a ranking order, but the Schützenschnur (Sharpshooter Rope) is by far the coolest and most sought after. I managed to earn one in gold when I was stationed in Baumholder, Germany.

In order to earn one, you need to perform a marksmanship qualification with German weapons. Round One is pistol, round two is rifle, and round three is heavy weapons. I was given the P8, G36, and MG3 for my qualification.

At the end, you are awarded the badge in bronze, silver, or gold. If you shoot gold with the pistol and rifle but botched the machine gun in bronze, you earn a bronze “Schütz”. You are awarded according to your lowest score. I pulled off gold in all of them.

I will openly admit that I have no idea how I made gold with the MG3 but hey! I’ll take it.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life (Screen grab of video by Cpl. Clay Beyersdorfer)

(Bonus) Order of St. Gregory the Great

This one isn’t authorized to wear on a U.S. Military uniform because it goes with an entirely new uniform that comes with it.

The Order of St. Gregory the Great is bestowed upon a soldier by the Vatican and the Pope himself. You are knighted and given the title of Gonfalonier (Standard-bearer) of the Church.

A famous U.S. soldier to have been knighted by the pope was Brevet Lt. Col. Myles Keogh, when he rallied to the defense of Pope Pius IX against the Kingdom of Sardinia. Keogh held his own until his capture.

After release, he was awarded the Pro Petro Sede Medal and admitted into the Order.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
(Painting via wikicommons)

Articles

17 images that perfectly show the misery of returning your gear

Over the past few days, you’ve been collecting exit signatures for your check-out sheet, and low and behold, you’re almost home. The process has been relatively straightforward up until this point.


The last item you need to get signed off is from the Central Issue Facility, or supply, where you need to check in all of your gear. Supply is one of the last stops a service member makes before obtaining their official DD-214.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong. If one aspect of your gear is not check-in ready, integrating back into civilian population will be delayed.

Related: 17 images that show why going to the armory sucks

So check out our list of what it typically takes to check in your gear and move on with your life.

(This is based on many true stories)

1. What it looks like when you’re on your way to the central issue on a Friday afternoon.

Oh, come on. (Images via Giphy)

2.When you walk inside and all you see are other troops waiting in a long a** line.

There’s too many to count. (Images via Giphy)

3. To add insult to injury, everyone who works there looks slow and grumpy.

Why do I hate life? (Images via Giphy)

4. After waiting what felt like an eternity, you finally haul your heavy gear over to the counter and begin the checkout process.

So heavy. (Images via Giphy)

5. You make it to the counter, and just as your morale has been boosted, you realized you’re at the slowest worker’s section.

Please, hurry the f*ck up! (Images via Giphy)

6. The clerk starts to review all your gear, pulling everything out piece-by-piece — most of which you never used.

And we mean most things. (Images via Giphy)

7. After completing the inventory, the clerk finds an issue with your almost squared away paperwork. All of your gear is clean enough to pass, but there’s a missing signature.

No way freakin’ way. (Images via Giphy)

8. Your superior officer’s signature is missing for an expensive piece of gear which got destroyed while you were deployed. The clerk informs you that you can either pay for it yourself or get the signature before you can get out of the military.

You can’t believe what you’re hearing.

I ain’t paying for sh*t. (Images via Giphy)

9. You speed back to your company HQ to find your CO.

Pedal to the metal. (Images via Giphy)

10. You dash into the HQ in search of the man or woman who can set you free.

Where are they? (Images via Giphy)

11. You find your superior, he or she signs the paperwork and then your emotions take over.

This may be wrong but it feels right. (Images via Giphy)

12. Now that you got your signature, it’s time to head back to central issue.

Almost to the finish line. (Images via Giphy)

13. You get back the central issue building and attempt to eyeball the person who helped you earlier to avoid waiting in line again.

Look at me. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 33 images that perfectly portray your first 96-hour liberty

15. It worked. The clerk spots you and waves you over. You hand her the signed paperwork, she looks it over and now you wait.

The anticipation grows. (Images via Giphy)

16. The clerk slowly stamps your paperwork. You’re clear.

You want to get mad, but you can’t at this point. (Images via Giphy)

17. You did it! Now go get your DD-214 and move on with your life.

Five years of college here I come. (Images via Giphy)

Humor

6 pearls of wisdom we learned from War Daddy in ‘Fury’

Many Hollywood war movies focus on the action-packed set pieces that go into the film’s trailer, leaving out a lot of room for the character elements that elevate good stories.


When David Ayer’s “Fury” debuted in theaters, the film’s realistic and diverse characters like Gordo, Bible, and the seasoned Don “War Daddy” Collier made audiences feel the dangers of being a tanker in WWII.

Brad Pitt plays the German speaking tank commander War Daddy must to deploy his leadership skills to manage the different personalities that make up his crew.

Related: 5 nuggets of wisdom in ‘Black Hawk Down’ you may have missed

So check out how War Daddy commanded his troops.

1. Never let them see you cry

No one said you can’t have feelings while you’re deployed in a combat zone, but leaders have to control their emotions to help maintain order. That’s exactly what War Daddy did after losing a crew member as he walked off for a moment of self-reflection.

War Daddy reminds us every great warrior needs a moment. (Images via Giphy)

2. Make your expectations clear

The Army quickly replaces the fallen crew member with an untrained boy named, Norman.

War Daddy gives the newly assigned tanker some sage advice for the hell he’s about to witness.

It sounds cold-hearted, but it’s realistic advice. (Images via Giphy)

3. Rank doesn’t always have its privileges

It not uncommon that war films feature both the war-hardened and the inexperienced “shot caller” tropes. But having a high-rank insignia on your collar or sleeve is only as good as the man wearing the shirt. Write that down.

True leaders get true reactions from their comrades. (Images via Giphy) 

4. Live in the moment

Having fought the Germans for a good amount of time and seeing plenty of death, War Daddy knows the importance of embracing a special moment.

To feel alive in a time of death is priceless. (Images via Giphy) 

5. Take care of each other

Even though their world is currently under a pile of sh*t, they still have their brotherhood and it’s stronger than ever.

Words only veterans can relate too. (Images via Giphy)

Also Read: 8 life lessons from ‘Major Payne’

6. Never run from a fight

Like War Daddy, many warriors are trained to fight, and fighting is all they know. So running away from a fight just isn’t a part of the plan.

With the odds were stacked up against them. They all stayed and fought. That’s their duty. (Images via Giphy)

Articles

21 of the US military’s most-overused clichés

There are certain phrases military service members hear on the regular, and by regular, we mean they are over-used like crazy.


While every workplace has its own cliche buzzwords — we’re talking about you there, “corporate synergy” — the military has plenty to choose from. The WATM team put its collective heads together and came up with this list of the cliche phrases we’ve heard way too many times in the military.

1. “All this and a paycheck too!”

Usually uttered by a staff NCO at the moment of a 20-mile hike where you wish you could just pass out on the side of the road.

2. “If you’re on time, you’re late.”

Military members are well aware of the unwritten rule of arriving 15 minutes prior to the time they are supposed to be somewhere. Of course, if there’s a senior officer involved, that might even mean 15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior.

3. “We get more done before 6 a.m. than most people do all day.”

The time can always be changed, but the phrase remains the same. Military members across the world are usually waking up way earlier than most, and as the saying goes, it probably means they have done personal hygiene, conducted an insane workout, ate breakfast, and started training before average Joe hit the snooze button on the alarm clock.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

4. “Don’t call me sir. I work for a living.”

Among the enlisted ranks, it’s a common cliche that officers don’t do any real work. “There’s a reason why they have office in their name” is a popular saying. So when an enlisted service-member is incorrectly addressed as “sir,” this is one of the most popular responses.

5. “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training.”

No matter what the weather, the U.S. military is guaranteed to be training or conducting some sort of exercise. But this cliche phrase is guaranteed to come out when a torrential downpour hits your unit.

6. “This ain’t my first rodeo there, cowboy.”

Let’s not ask the sergeant any stupid questions. He knows what he’s doing, because he’s done this a million times before. Cowboy.

7. “Best job in the world!”

Calling your particular field in the military “the best job in the world” usually happens during the times when you would never think it’s the best time in the world. These times include freezing cold on patrol in Afghanistan, running out of water while training in Thailand, and/or not showering for a month-and-a-half.

8. “Complacency kills.”

You’ll find this phrase spray-painted to every other Hesco barrier on the forward operating base, on a sign outside the chow hall, and on the lips of every sergeant major in a half-mile radius. Troops need to stay alert while they are out in combat, and this one gets drilled into the dirt.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

9. “Keep your head on a swivel.”

This one is similar to “complacency kills” but is often said to troops about to go into dangerous situations. Before heading out on patrol, a squad leader might tell his troops to “keep their head on swivel,” meaning: keep alert and look everywhere for potential threats.

10. “Got any saved rounds?” or “Any alibis?”

At the end of a briefing, you’ll usually hear either of these phrases. “Any questions?” just doesn’t pack the same punch as using terminology straight off the rifle range.

11. “Another glorious day in the Corps!”

It could be the Corps, the Army, the Navy, or the Air Force, but it’s always a glorious day there, according to whoever utters this phrase. This is meant to motivate but it’s usually met with eye-rolls.

12. “This is just for your SA.”

This is another way of saying FYI, but with a military spin. SA, or situational awareness, is all about being aware of what’s happening around you, so this is often said by a subordinate to a leader so they know what’s going on.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

13. “We’re putting on another dog and pony show.”

We’ve never actually been to a real dog and pony show, but we have put on plenty of them in the military. A military “dog and pony show” is usually some sort of ceremony or traditional event for troops to show off their weaponry and other stuff. For example, Marines may put one on by standing around and answering questions about their machine-guns, rocket launchers, and other gear for civilians who are visiting the base for an event.

14. “Roger that.”

This is a phrase that should be uttered only over the radio (it’s actually just “roger, over” and “roger, out,” respectively), but troops often say this instead of saying “I understand.”

15. “Bravo Zulu.”

Bravo Zulu is a naval signal that can be conveyed via flag or over the radio, and it means “well done.” But plenty of troops will use this as a way of saying good job or congratulations.

16. “Like a monkey f–king a football.”

A favorite of NCOs and staff NCOs, this comes out when junior troops have screwed something up pretty bad. As you can probably guess, a football is not a good object for a monkey’s sexual relations.

17. “Let’s pop smoke.”

Smoke grenades are used for signaling and/or screening movements. When under fire, troops may want to pop smoke so the enemy can’t really see where they are headed. On the flip side, troops at a lame bar may want to “pop smoke” and go somewhere else.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

18. “Let’s break it down, Barney style.”

Barney the dinosaur loves you, and some military members like to invoke his name to explain things. When a task is complicated, a leader may explain it “Barney style,” or so simply that a child could understand it.

19. “Look at this soup sandwich.”

This refers to someone who has usually screwed up the wear of their uniform in some way.

20. “Ok, gents, we need to be heads down on this.”

A favorite of WATM’s own ex-naval aviator Ward, this is actually a twofer. First, the use of “gents” (oh Lord please make it stop), and then referring to working hard as heads down. Apparently we’ll be more productive as long as our heads are not up or to the side.

21. “You are lost in the sauce.”

This will often be said of someone who has no idea what the hell is going on. In order to rectify, a leader will probably break things down “Barney Style.”

Got any to add to the list? Leave a comment.

NOW: 11 Vets with some of the coolest jobs in Hollywood

Lists

5 things enlisted troops love but officers hate

No matter what branch you serve in, there will always be a solid line between enlisted personnel and officers — they rarely understand each other.


Enlisted troops do some crazy sh*t, which causes officers to get in a bad mood — and vice versa.

Most officers want their troops to abide by all the rules and regulations while the members of the E-4 mafia just want to push the envelope as often as possible and have a little fun.

Related: 6 reasons why you need a sense of humor in the infantry

So check out five things enlisted troops love, but officers freakin’ hate — according to our resident military officers.

5. Practical jokes

We all love to play some grab ass to liven up a dull situation, and some jokes do go too far — f*ck it. Once the principal officer shows up, consider the fun is over. Most officers aren’t fans of practical jokes especially if they’re the butt of that joke — but enlisted folks love it!

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Don’t think an officer can’t prank their troops right back. They did graduate from college.

(Note: I’m told this doesn’t apply to pilots…)

 4. Mustaches

It’s common for service members to grow mustaches — especially on deployment. The military has strict grooming standards for all facial hair and officers keep a close eye out on them. We wouldn’t want a single hair follicle to fell out of line — we’d probably end up losing the war.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Master Sgt. Bryan McCoy, Staff Sgt. Clayton Morris, and Master Sgt. Anthony Foster show off their whiskers that were grown for Mustache March, March 27, 2014, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. (U.S. Air Force photo: Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia)

(Note: The exception appears to be “Movember”)

3. Dipping tobacco while standing duty

Sometimes we need a nicotine fix and aren’t allowed to walk outside for a smoke. So we tend to dip tobacco and leave the spit bottles laying around. We’ll give this one to the officers since spit cups aren’t sexy.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
At least he’s not just spitting it on the ground. Keeping it in a clear bottle is a much better idea. (Source: Pinterest)

Also Read: 6 ways you can tell a troop isn’t an infantryman

2. Out PTing their company commanders

When you’re just starting out in a leadership position and trying to lead from the front — no officer wants to get beaten in a sprint contest by someone who just graduated high school 6-months ago.

It’s probably why enlisted troops always have to run at the officer’s pace.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Lt. Col. David Bardorf and Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan lead their battalion on a run during the annual battalion’s physical training session to support the Combined Federal Campaign. (U.S. Marine Corps photo: Lance Cpl. Nik S. Phongsisattanak)

1. Buying expensive vehicles right out the gate

Some branches are supposed to clear significant purchases with their command before executing on the sale. This system helps the enlisted troop from blowing his or her already low paycheck on a car with 30% APR — that’s bad.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life
Troops love buying brand new trucks — until they have to actually pay for it. (Source: Ford)

Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Articles

5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about the French Foreign Legion

1. Legionnaires are instilled with a “fight to the death” attitude. Giving up is not really an option.

In April 1863, a battle between the French Foreign Legion and the Mexican army showed how effective and ballsy legionnaires really could be. With a total of just 65 men, the legionnaires fought back against a force of approximately 3,000 at the Battle of Camarón. Despite the overwhelming odds, the small patrol of legionnaires inflicted terrible losses on the Mexican forces and they refused to surrender.


Instead, their French officers actually called on the larger Mexican force to surrender multiple times. Holed up inside of a hacienda, only five men remained able to fight (most were killed or wounded) — and incredibly — mounted a bayonet charge against the opposing force, until they were ultimately surrounded and forced to surrender.

“Is this all of them? Is this all of the men who are left?” a Mexican Major said at the time, according to the book Camerone by James W. Ryan. “These are not men! They are demons!”

The Legion still celebrates and commemorates the battle today — and the wooden hand of their slain commander, Capt. Danjou, is the most prized possession at the Legion’s museum in Aubagne, writes Max Hastings.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

2. Legionnaires who are wounded are granted automatic French citizenship.

Though troops serving the Legion hail from 138 different countries, they can become French citizens eventually. After serving at least three years honorably, they can apply to be citizens. But they also have a much quicker path: If they are wounded on the battlefield, they can become citizens through a provision called “Français par le sang versé” (“French by spilled blood”), according to The Telegraph.

The French government allowed this automatic citizenship provision in 1999.

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

3. More than 35,000 foreigners have been killed in action while serving with the Legion.

Throughout its history, the French Foreign Legion — and the fighters who make up its ranks — were seen as expendable. The foreigners who continue to join do so accepting the possibility of their death in a far-off place, in exchange for a new life with some sense of purpose. But meaningless sacrifice has gradually become a virtue in itself, according to a Vanity Fair article about the Legion.

“It’s like this,” an old legionnaire told William Langeweische of Vanity Fair. “There is no point in trying to understand. Time is unimportant. We are dust from the stars. We are nothing at all. Whether you die at age 15 or 79, in a thousand years there is no significance to it. So f–k off with your worries about war.”

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

4. The Legion used to accept anyone — criminals and misfits especially — with no questions, but now there is a thorough screening process.

Since its founding in 1831, the Legion has become the one place of escape for those with haunted pasts. Men with criminal records, shady business dealings, or deserters from their home country’s armies were accepted into the ranks, with no questions asked. Stripped of their old identity and given a new one, the new legionnaires are able to begin their new life with the slate wiped clean.

The legion will still accept deserters and other minor miscreants, but it’s not as easy as it once was. New recruits are given a battery of physical, intelligence, and psychological tests before they even get any kind of training. Later on in the process, recruits are screened for “motivation” in order to weed out those who don’t have the drive to make it in the ranks.

Some of the process was detailed by Simon Bennett at Vice:

Finally, after countless hours spent lingering in uncomfortable conditions, the only thing standing between us and a spot with the Legion was what was referred to as the “Gestapo.” Rumor had it that at this point, the Legion knew everything about you. The word Interpol is thrown around a lot—any financial, criminal, family, and employment background information is supposedly fair game. Call it a hunch, but I think that’s bullshit. Make no mistake, I believe someone, somewhere has access to all of that information. But a sweaty, apathetic French administration in a run-down, quasi-bureaucratic shithole in suburban Marseille isn’t that someone or somewhere. In any case, they called me in for an interrogation.

While they may not necessarily be running from their past when they join the Legion these days, all new legionnaires are still stripped of their old identities and given new ones, which they maintain for at least their first year of service.

“Legionnaires begin a new life when they join,” a legionnaire named Capt. Michel told NBC News. “Each and every one of them is allowed to keep his past a secret.”

7 key military life hacks that matter in civilian life

5. The pay is terrible, and so are the benefits.

Legion recruiters could easily steal the infamous U.S. Marine Corps recruiting poster with the slogan, “We don’t promise you a rose garden.” The pay is terrible, as are the benefits, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Despite the promise of a very rough life and the possibility of being sent to fight anywhere, thousands continue to show up each year.

Legionnaires can expect deployments to austere environments and/or see plenty of combat. The Legion is currently in Afghanistan and Mali, for example.

Their starting pay is roughly $1450 per month for at least the first couple of years in. That’s a pretty small paycheck compared to the lowest-ranking U.S. Army soldier making $1546, which is guaranteed to go up to $1733 after being automatically promoted six months later (if they don’t get in trouble of course).

There is at least one bonus to the Legion if you fancy yourself a drinker: There’s plenty of booze. Even in a combat zone, legionnaires are drinking in their off time, and their culture of heavy drinking would make any frat-boy blush.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information