Sorority houses and military barracks couldn’t be more different… at least that’s what most people think. In less than six weeks, you can go from living in a beautiful Victorian home, adorned with Greek letters, on a corner of a college campus to settling into James Hall at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May.
The two seem vastly dissimilar, but you will find there are quite a few similarities, no matter how much anyone wants to deny it. Here are just a few things you’ll find familiar when joining the military right after college.
1. You share everything
Barracks or sorority house, someone is always trying to borrow something from you — your printer, your tools, your computer, your DVDs… Just no one in the military has asked me to borrow my Lilly Pulitzer scarf.
2. They both have their own unique culture
Each Greek organization and each military branch has official colors, symbols, and values, like the EGA of the Marine Corps, the grey and gold of the Navy, and the “Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do” core values of the Air Force.
You can go from green to blue, from a teddy bear and dagger to a shield and anchors, and from “Honorable, Beautiful, Highest” to “Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty,” and still find the simple things that tie organizations together to be remarkably similar.
3. Getting masted is a lot like a military standards board meeting
You sit awkwardly in a group of people who are upset by what you did and you have to try to talk your way out of getting kicked out of the organization.
Alcohol and bad decisions were usually involved. You’ll take a punishment, fine, but you just don’t want to be banned forever.
4. Recruitment is a grueling process
Once you’re accepted into a sorority, there is usually a long process of staying up late and deciding on who does and doesn’t join your chapter. In the military, everyone dreads recruiting. Recruiters are seen as people that you have to deal with, not that you want to deal with.
If they want you, they’re there to get you into the branch any way they can. If they don’t want you, good luck trying because you aren’t getting in.
5. You join a large family
It is truly a sisterhood or brotherhood. The ties that bind sorority sisters are the same as those that bind a Coastie to her brothers-in-arms. You know you will never stand alone, on a battlefield or during hard times in life.
6. Sibling rivalry is everywhere
Just like blood relatives, you fight like cats and dogs, make fun of each other, and give one another a hard time, but no outsider can hurt your siblings. Whether it’s a bar fight, simple teasing, or anything in between, no one gets to be mean to your sisters or brothers except you.
7. There are people you like — and people you don’t
You’re going to have to live with people you didn’t pick, and it can be amazing or awful. Life with 26 other women is not the most fun you can have, but you’ll do it all over again by joining the military after college. Though military roommates may not understand your past sorority life, they are exactly the same: They will tell you how your hair and makeup looks and if your uniform looks good.
8. It gives you a unique identity
The motto of sorority women everywhere is, “it’s not four years, it’s for life.” The Marines have, “once a Marine, always a Marine.” The other branches never give up their identity as veterans. Even though it wasn’t an easy transition, I left college and my sisters and gained a whole new family.
My sisters were still at my boot camp graduation and my Coast Guard family has been there the whole ride. To quote a letter I once received from another Coastie,
Your Coast Guard family is always here for you.