4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Serving in the military is often portrayed as a challenging task and with the right reasons. Nevertheless, there are undoubtedly many advantages — embracing mother nature while serving is the one we’ll focus on. A lifestyle (what I’ve become to understand what the service actually is!) that offers you the chance to travel worldwide is unique and rewarding. The military has created this long culture of moving around, which means more opportunities for soldiers to experience outdoors in different countries and continents. Acknowledging the hardship of continuous relocations for military families, I will emphasize my personally-identified outdoor benefits in serving in the military.

  1. Soldiering up while learning to live in the field

Whoever has been in the army still has vivid memories of their first Field Training Exercise. There’s always that guy or gal who forgot his one piece of equipment he shouldn’t have forgotten leading up to a long, cold, freezing night. I have great stories about the rookie mistakes my buddies and I made in our first days in the field. Yet, this was all part of the learning process, and as time went by, we all learned how to gear up and started to relish mother nature every time. 

If you’re a morning person (well, no one cares if you are or not, you’re still waking up early), you can see the morning mist slowly vanishing into nothing. At these times, we enjoyed sharing a cup of coffee and having small talk with our fellow soldiers. 

If you like sunsets, there’s nothing like watching them as you eat an MRE with your friends (the MRE is not a must). 

  1. Enjoying outdoors all over the world

Having served in the military in Europe, I was fortunate to train with many countries worldwide. I was attached to a Royal Commando Company from Great Britain. We trained together on the beautiful beaches of Albania. Having the sea breeze cool us off after strenuous exercises was something we all craved. The mixture of the Adriatic Sea combined with Commando Fighting Tactics was a combo made in heaven.

outdoors
NATO Snipers Practice High-Angle Shooting in Austria

On the other side of the world, in Wisconsin, I enjoyed one of the most beautiful spring weather ever. My unit was attached to a National Guard Unit from the Midwest and drove to this beautiful Army Base near the Canadian border. The trees, the air and the scenery were something I’ll never forget.

One of the best pieces of training I’ve ever completed was Winter Survival Training with Austrian, German and Swiss Alpine Infantrymen. My fellow cadets and I attended the two-week training in the Sharri Mountains near the trijunction between Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania. If you wanted to see the power of nature, this was the place. We would start our morning hikes in beautiful sunny weather, wearing only shirts. As we approached the peak, an immense cloud with atrocious wind would cover us in no time. We would have to rush back to our shelter to survive — the beauty, unpredictability and mercilessness of nature-all within 30 minutes. No other profession offers this opportunity!

There have certainly been times of heavy rain and freezing cold, which I didn’t enjoy and that I’ll never forget. However, having had the opportunity to travel to more than 30 countries and four continents, I have enjoyed the outdoors everywhere I trained and traveled in the military capacity. These travels have made me appreciate nature so much more!

3. Hiking while completing mandatory ruck marches

If you serve in an infantry unit, you will probably have frequent ruck marches. Such activities can certainly be challenging and tedious, but if you’re into hiking and outdoors, they will feel less like work. The opportunity to patrol in mountains and hills with no signs of human construction feels more like a movie from WWII. 

The remote areas where this training takes place more often than not offer a fantastic escape from urban stress. This is undoubtedly a factor not to be ignored since today’s world is defined by a fast-paced life with a rapid decrease in outdoor activities. Going out in ruck marches and FTXes will allow you to enjoy nature and fulfill your professional duty while getting paid to do so. Having a few beers and barbeque would be excellent, but we all know that’s not going to happen!

4. Working out in the outdoors with passion and camaraderie

One of the leading military activities known to occur in the outdoors is physical training. Whether soldiers are training with their platoon or in large running formations with their Battalion Commander, they’re undoubtedly enjoying the camaraderie. 

As soldiers test their limits in developing their physical stamina, they learn how to cope with the weather and the environment. The all-weather training regimen gives the soldier a challenging task but also prepares them for any engagement. The CrossFit culture has dramatically shifted the culture from gyms to out-of-doors while achieving better results.

Serving in the outdoors and appreciating it

serving in the outdoors

The military profession is essentially defined by the outdoors. All soldiers seem to enjoy it since it gives them an excellent opportunity to develop personally and savor nature. At the same time, they can travel around the globe while experiencing sceneries from all over the world. While this may appear as an unorthodox way to defend your country’s freedoms, it comes with difficulty and risk to soldiers’ lives. 

Yet, true warriors overcome all obstacles and learn to appreciate the beauty of nature, wherever they may be.

Military Life

5 ways to stay on your Drill Sergeant’s good side

Before troops enlist in the military, they often find themselves preparing for the hellfire that their soon-to-be Drill Sergeant/Instructor is going to rain on them. Hate to break it to you, but there’s no escaping it — everyone gets bit in this shark attack. And remember, while they still have their brown round, you’ll never get the chance to grab a beer with them.


That doesn’t mean that your Drills are hate-filled robots. The point of basic training/boot camp is to break the civilian out of new recruits and turn them into moldable clay by the time they get to their first duty station. You won’t ever be friends with them while they’re your Drill Sergeant, but you can get on their good side. Here’s how:

5. Lose the civilian attitude

For some reason, after recruits sign on the dotted line, say goodbye to mom and dad, and are ready to defend this great nation of ours, they still show up and think it’s like working at Starbucks.

You see those other troops? Act like them and you’ll be just fine.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
First Lesson: Never look a Drill Sergeant in the eyes. Even if they question why you’re not looking in their eyes. The response is because you can’t while at the position of attention. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Griffin, U.S. Army Reserve Command-Public Affairs Office)

4. Learn everything you can

Basic training is just that — it trains you in the basics of what it takes to be a soldier. This is why the focus is on military customs and courtesies, Drill and Ceremony, and the proper wear and appearance of your given uniform.

The more you learn, the quicker you learn it, and the less you have to be told twice the better.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

3. Shoot and PT better than everyone else

If there’s one thing that makes a Drill Sergeant/Instructor giddy, it’s seeing their recruits shoot better than the other Drill Sergeants’/Instructors’.

Be the guy that your Drill is willing to pit against the other recruits.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
They yell because they care. Or they just like yelling. It’s a bit of both. (U.S. Army photo by SPC. Tynisha L. Daniel)

2. Don’t f*ck up

If the Drill Sergeant tells you to do something, do it. If they say not to do something, don’t you dare do it.

Drill Sergeants have an expectation that they’re teaching a bunch of idiots, so they’ll tell bark orders at you for everything shy of common sense.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
I guarantee you’ll get tired doing push-ups far before they get tired of watching you do them. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by SGT David Turner)

1. Most importantly, don’t suck up

Drills are used to damn near everything they put up with from new recruits. You can just barely pass your PT test, shoot just well enough to qualify, be as quiet as a ghost, and they’ll still talk highly of you after you graduate.

This goes hand-in-hand with dropping the civilian mentality: suck-ups don’t make it in the military, well, on the enlisted side anyways. They don’t need some kid telling them how great they are — they have a mirror. Suck-ups don’t make it far because it goes against the one rule of military life: one team, one fight.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
You should only try to outdo everyone during competitions. Then, you better be first. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Sgt. William A. Parsons)

Military Life

7 reasons why enlisted love ‘Mustang’ officers

There are many different routes to becoming an officer within the U.S. Armed Forces. Military academies and ROTC programs are common, but only one in-road immediately garners respect, admiration, and loyalty — we’re talking about Mustang officers. A ‘Mustang’ is a prior-service officer who did their time before jumping from the green side (enlisted) to the gold side (officers).


You can often point them out in a crowd. They’re a bit older than most butterbars, they already have that sharp-as-a-KA-BAR glare, and they’re probably a bit hungover.

Now, this isn’t meant to bash officers who were not previously enlisted. In fact, this list is meant to spotlight the reasons why Mustangs get more love and what all officers will eventually learn with time. Mustangs just have a head start.

1. They don’t need to be taught the small stuff.

There are a lot of minor details in military life that you simply can’t learn from books. The most important difference between a Mustang and a fresh officer is learning the constant give-and-take that comes with leadership.

There is an extremely fine line between earning respect through leading by example and being a knowledgable leader. If an officer hides in their office, they alienate their troops. If they put their nose in troops’ business, they’re micromanaging to the point of exhaustion. Each officer must forge their own path. Mustangs just have a better understanding of what it’s like to deal with officers of both types.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
An officer’s thoughts should only lead to one place: deployments. (Photo by Senior Airman Justyn Freeman)

2. They’ve made the same dumb mistakes as the lower enlisted.

One aspect of leadership that no leader wants to deal with is learning someone you’re in charge of messed up. Troops are a direct reflection of the officers over them and when it’s found out that a subordinate “goofed,” the chain of command asks just one question to the officer: “What’s wrong with your Joe?”

Fresh officers tend to drop the hammer — either because they don’t know the proper response or they believe it’ll set an example. Despite being former NCOs, Mustangs will wield the hammer to the appropriate level to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Oftentimes, it can just be as simple as letting the NCO smoke the problems out of the subordinate.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
An officer’s pen is mighty, but it’s not always the answer. (Photo by Sgt. Jermaine Baker)

3. They take on more important tasks than their peers.

An officer’s reputation depends entirely on the actions of their troops. Good officers have faith in their troops and maintain focus on what’s important — building skills needed for warfighting and doing the menial tasks that just need to get done — instead of chasing the tasks that net them a shiny new award.

There are no specific right answers to finding a good task balance for your troops but there definitely is a wrong answer: forgetting to factor morale into this equation. Mustangs just tend to watch their own lane and put themselves in the boots they once wore.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Spoiler alert: the correct balance doesn’t include practicing drill and ceremony every day. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Tyler Pender)

4. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty with their troops.

Rank has its privileges. If the officer needs to do their own work, they’ll stay in their lane. If the only hold up is the Joes’ dirty work, officers have the choice of “supervising” the NCOs supervising the troops, or they can lead by example, get their hands dirty, and earn a bit more trust (once again, consider alienation versus micromanaging).

Mustangs have swept their fair share of motor pools and they’ve filled their fair share of sandbags. They can dive back into that world every now and then without getting labelled as a micromanager.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
No Private will ever complain about an extra hand filling sandbags. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Carl Greenwell)

5. They would never say something as stupid as, “well, Sergeant Major, technically, I outrank you!”

Yes, as with all formalities and regulations, the dumb butterbar is technically correct. The proper response from an E-9 isn’t to immediately open a can of whoop-ass on the unfortunate soul, but rather to turn to their officer equivalent with a deadpan look and ask them to unf*ck that officer before they do.

A Mustang knows that NCOs often have a battle-buddy that outranks them…

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
…by a lot. (Photo by Alejandro Pena)

6. They aren’t sour if they aren’t saluted.

There’s a time and place for saluting. Of course, it shows the proper respect to officers, but even officers get tired of “chopping logs” when they have to salute every three seconds.

If a Mustang knows their troops respect them, they don’t need a hand raised to their eyebrow to prove it. They’ll still expect the salute for formality’s sake, but they know it’s not the end of the world should a troop forego one. Plus, you’ll never see a Mustang get worked up when they’re not saluted in a combat zone.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
For one very specific reason… (Photo by Sgt. Conner Robbins)

7. Their heads aren’t up their asses.

Let’s face it: Everyone who becomes an officer has their own idea of leadership and hopes to etch their name into military history books — but there are steps they must take. Every officer they read about in books was once a young lieutenant. It takes time. It takes making mistakes. It takes years to learn your own leadership style. No one ever comes out of the gate and immediately changes the world.

Relax. Stay humble. Everything can be summed up with the phrase, “trust is a two-way street.” Mustangs trust their troops and the troops will make sure their name is remembered fondly.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of February 23rd

In the military, there’s no telling what next week will bring. Thankfully, there are hundreds of talented photographers in the ranks that capture the moments that characterize life as a service member, both in training and at war.


These are the best photos of the week:

Air Force:

A U.S. Air Force (USAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) member stand watch at an entry control point during exercise Cope North 18 at Tinian, U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Feb. 19. Cope North enables U.S. and allied forces to train humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations from austere operating bases, enhancing our capacity and capability to respond in times of crisis

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christopher Quail)

Airman Victor Trevino, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, waits to marshal in a new C-130J Super Hercules at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Feb. 22, 2018. This is the eleventh C-130J delivered to Yokota as part of a fleet-wide redistribution of assets in motion by Air Mobility Command.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)

Army:

A U.S. Soldier assigned to 3rd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, engages a simulated enemy tank during Decisive Action Rotation 18-04 at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 17, 2018. Decisive Action Rotations at the National Training Center ensure units remain versatile, responsive, and consistently available for current and future contingencies.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Parrott, Operations Group, National Training Center)

A Soldier assigned to 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), moves trough heavily wooded terrain and snow to his objective point after being dropped off at their landing zone by CH-47 Chinooks during an air assault training exercise in the Fort Drum, New York training area, Feb. 21, 2018.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. James Avery)

Navy:

Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, looks at a mock-up of a ship’s radar during his visit to Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS). Sawyer’s purpose was to provide an overview of 7th Fleet readiness and to provide feedback on how training ties into ensuring safe and effective operations at sea.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jess Lewis)

Sailors clear the landing spot after attaching cargo to an MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the Indians of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 6, on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) during a replenishment-at-sea. Theodore Roosevelt and its carrier strike group are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Spencer Roberts)

Marine Corps:

U.S. Marine candidates participate in group stretch and rope climb before a 3 mile run at the Officer Candidates School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Feb. 19, 2018. Candidates must go through three months of intensive training to evaluate and screen individuals for the leadership, moral, mental, and physical qualities required for commissioning as a U.S. Marine Corps officer.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Donte Busker)

Marines attached to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit shoot M9 service pistols on the port-side aircraft elevator of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in Europe and the Middle East. The Iwo Jima ARG embarks the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and includes Iwo Jima, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), the dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51), Fleet Surgical Team 8, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, Tactical Air Control Squadron 22, components of Naval Beach Group 2 and the embarked staff of Amphibious Squadron 4.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel C. Coxwest)

Coast Guard:

Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach 45-Foot Response Boat—Medium boat crew members, Fireman Thomas Kenny, Petty Officer 3rd Class Brett Weaver and Petty Officer 2nd Class Zachary Timm, dewater and escort a boat that was sinking approximately 13 miles off the coast of Carolina Beach, North Carolina, on Feb. 21, 2018. The boaters reportedly hit a floating piece of debris, which created a gash in the hull.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Nolan Jackson)

Articles

6 things to know about the VA home loan

The Veterans Affairs home loan can be incredibly confusing, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the information found on the VA website. So we have broken it down into six basic questions for you: who, what, when, where, why, and how?


*As always, when making decisions that impact your personal finances, make sure you’re sitting down with a financial advisor. Most banks have financial advisors on staff who are always willing to work with customers.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Veterans Affairs employs assessors and appraisers to ensure that each home purchased by service members is priced correctly.(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Eric Glassey, 4th Inf. Div. PAO)

1. Who:

Lendee eligibility is determined by service status:

Active duty personnel must have served a minimum of 90 continuous days to be eligible

Reserve or guard members must:

  • have six years of service in the selected reserve or National Guard, and
  • be discharged honorably, or
  • have been placed on the retired list, or
  • have been transferred to Standby Reserve or to an element of Ready Reserve (other than the Selected Reserve after service characterized as honorable), or
  • still be servicing in the Selected Reserve

Spouses can be eligible as well.

2. What:

The VA home loan program is a benefit for eligible service members and veterans to help them in the process of becoming homeowners by guaranteeing them the ability to acquire a loan through a private lender.

Utilizing the VA home loan, lendees do not make a down payment and are not required to pay monthly mortgage insurance, though they are required to pay a funding fee. This fee varies by lender, depends on the loan amount, and can change depending on the type of loan, your service situation, whether you are a first time or return lendee, and whether you opt to make a down payment.

The fee may be financed through the loan or paid for out of pocket, but must be paid by the close of the sale.

The fee for returning lendees and for National Guard and members of the reserve pay a slightly higher fee.

The fee may also be waived if you are:

  • a veteran receiving compensation for a service related disability, or
  • a veteran who would be eligible to receive compensation for a service related disability but does not because you are receiving retirement or active duty pay, or
  • are the surviving spouse of a veteran who died in service or from a service related disability.

3. When:

Lendees may utilize the loan program during or after honorable active duty service, or after six years of select reserve or National Guard service.

4. Where:

Eligible lendees may use the VA home loan in any of the 50 states or United States territories

5. Why:

Veterans Affairs helps service members, veterans and eligible surviving spouses to purchase a home. The VA home loan itself does not come from the VA, but rather through participating lenders, i.e. banks and mortgage companies. With VA guaranteeing the lendee a certain amount for the loan, lenders are able to provide more favorable terms.

6. How:

Eligible lendees should talk to their lending institution as each institution has its own requirements for how to acquire the loan.

Military Life

The pros and cons of being a military spouse

The title of “Military Spouse” is a descriptor that those married to service members wear proudly — and with good reason. There is a sense of pride in being married to someone who has dedicated their life and career to defending our great nation.


Military life affects the entire family to varying degrees and finding others who can relate to what you are going through is important. So, it makes sense to identify as a “Military Spouse” and be an active part of that community.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
We’re a family and it’s beautiful. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Calvin Shamoon)

But is there a downside?

Maybe.

My husband recently retired from the military after 20 years in the Marine Corps. We were ready for this transition. We knew exactly where we wanted to retire, we had friends and family in the area, and, having already lived in the location in the past, we had a few roots already planted.

I was a very active part of the military-spouse community and, over time, I became very well-versed in making friends and adapting to living in certain areas for only a few years at a time. Even today, we still find ourselves gravitating towards military families when it comes to social gatherings.

But 18 months into this “retirement” phase of our lives together, I am feeling a little bit lost.

It’s not that I’m getting the itch to move — I have jokingly told my husband that I just want to be buried in the backyard because I am not moving again. But I do feel a loss of identity when it comes to friendships.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
No one gets the military community like the military-spouse community. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. John Healy)

Making friends with folks who have lived in one area their entire lives is a bit challenging. It’s not because they’re not open to being friends with a newcomer, it’s because I find myself so far out of my comfort zone. The zone where, no matter what, another military spouse and I instantly had at least one thing in common upon first meeting. So I struggle to create long-lasting, meaningful friendships (that are so valuable to my mental health) in a community of people who have been around each other their entire adult lives.

Was there something I wish I had done differently while my husband was on active duty? I’m not sure. I don’t regret the many incredible, life-long friends I made, even if they are spread out across the world. I don’t regret being active in the military-spouse community because I learned so much and grew as a person.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Military spouses of Combat Logistics Battalion 31 visit local children at the Life is Beautiful Daycare Center in Ishikawa, Okinawa, Japan. (U.S Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jonah Baase)

But I do wish that I had spent more time making connections with those outside of the community. I had “civilian family” friends, sure, but it feels like a life skill I could have spent more time honing.

Just like active duty service, transition out of military service impacts the entire family. There are many aspects of the transition to be considered, but one that I really wish I had realized was being careful of putting so much stock in my identity as a military spouse, especially when it comes to the friends I made.

I don’t wish that I had spent less time with military friends, I don’t wish that I had shied away from participating in the community, but I do wish I had spent more time thinking of life after my husband’s military service in regards to my own identity.

Military Life

The origin of the ‘best’ rank in the Marines (Lance Corporal)

Insane work environments, low-income housing, cafeteria food, and a general tone of condescension from leadership, combined with big personalities from all over the United States and beyond, have produced the “best” rank in the Marines — the lance corporal.


Also known as “third from the bottom,” lance corporal is one of the most common ranks in the Marine Corps. Despite the number of Marines who have received this humble endowment, the lance corporal is often called the “best” rank by those who have served in the Corps.

The origin of the rank’s title is both French and Italian and roughly translates to “one who has broken a lance in combat” and “leader.”

Related: 5 reasons veterans love the Terminal Lance perspective

Today, this would be similar to calling a Marine salty. The rank spawned from a need to establish small-unit leadership on the ground. Lance Corporal, as a rank, was used in medieval Europe for the same purpose. When one became a Corporal, they would receive their own horse and lance with which to ride into battle.

 

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
A U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal, right, addresses guests during the Evening Parade reception at the Home of the Commandants in Washington, D.C., May 24, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Adrian R. Rowan)

The horse became a symbol of rank, but if the horse died and the soldier was grounded, what was there to separate them from the rest? Thus, lance corporal was established to distinguish corporals on the ground by giving them a lance.

In the U.S. Marine Corps, lance corporal didn’t officially become a rank until 1958, when Congress amended the Career Compensation Act of 1949. However, the rank has a much longer history than that. In the 1830’s, Lance Cpl. was used as a billet title for Marines that were on track to become corporal.

It wasn’t until the rank of private first class was established in 1917 that Lance Cpl. was almost totally removed from Marine rank structure. The U.S. Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps, at the time, felt that the rank of Pfc. ended the usefulness of Lance Cpl., although the rank dies hard, and one writer on Marine Corps tradition asserts that privates were being detailed as lance corporals as recently as 1937.

Despite its turbulent past, the rank has been immortalized not only by heroic actions but also by the ridiculous conduct of Marines who wear its chevron with crossed rifles. Make no mistake — there is a reputation that goes along with this rank, and it has many sides.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Marine lance corporal service alpha dress chevrons.

Yes, it is the senior-junior rank, yes, many great leaders bear the mosquito wings with honor, however, the rank is also synonymous with those who will do anything to get out of a working party. They’re also the one ones who have the best liberty stories, barracks room socials, and an endless stream of comments ridiculing anything the Corps can come up with.

Every Marine who served as a Lance has stories detailing the debauchery consistent with the rank, and if they didn’t serve in the rank, like an officer, they have stories of a young Lance Criminal acting accordingly.

Lance Corporal is considered the best because of the distribution of responsibility amongst its ranks.

Also Read: What it’s like having a submarine crash into your ship

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Living Marine legend Kyle Carpenter wears the rank of lance corporal.

When you wear the rank, you are among the highest density of eligible working party Marines, creating an environment primed for skating. It is here that legends are born. These legends range in notoriety from the heroic medal of honor recipients to hilarious battalion level shit-baggery. One of them has even become a dark lord of the Star Wars universe.

Only those who have served in the USMC will ever really know just how much of an impact a Marine Lance Cpl. can have with the proper amount of motivation and creativity, and it is in the name of those hard chargers that we honor the history of the Corps’ best rank.

For more reference, check out the Terminal Lance comics by Maximilian Uriarte, a former Marine Lance who has been chronicling the mind and spirit of the USMC E-3 in the most comprehensive way (comic strips) for years.

Articles

This man lost 90 pounds to enlist in the Marines

About a dozen young men and women are gathered at a shopping center, lining up outside Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station here, to prepare for the challenges of recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina.


Also read: A retired Navy SEAL commander breaks down his morning fitness routine that starts at 4:30

Some recruits are more prepared than others. Some still have ground to cover and goals to obtain, but 17-year-old Demetri E. Ramos has covered more ground than his peers.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Over the past three years he lost about 90 pounds to be eligible to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He started his journey at 260 pounds and now weighs 170 pounds.

His stepfather, Robert Haag, challenged him during his freshman year to turn his life around. Haag noticed his stepson would spend many hours every day playing video games in the basement of his house. Haag approached Ramos and challenged him to earn his place on “the wall.”

“There is a big wall in our house that you have to earn your way [onto],” Haag said. On this wall are photos of six current and former Marines.

Setting a Goal

“My stepfather told me if I go from 260 pounds to 180 pounds, he would buy me an Xbox One,” said Ramos, a Severna Park High School native. At first, Ramos was hesitant about the large amount of weight he would have to lose.

But, he said, after eating healthier and spending long hours in the gym with his stepbrother he accomplished his goal.

After graduating high school this past spring, Ramos’ stepbrother and stepfather, who are both Marines, went with him to visit the local Marine Corps Recruiting Station, a trip that would change his life forever.

Ramos added he always looked up to and admired the Marines in his family because of their character and values they learned.

“To see the dedication he had before talking to [us] was incredible,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jason Irwin, the commander of the Glen Burnie Marine recruiting office. “You can definitely see the commitment he had to make himself eligible for enlistment, and to take the initial steps of becoming a United States Marine.”

“It wasn’t fun being incapable of doing things because of my weight, or being out of shape and not progressing,” Ramos said. “My motivation initially started with these restrictions and it grew more and more when I continued to lose weight and wanted to continue to make myself better as a person.”

Ramos is scheduled to attend recruit training at the end of this year, and according to Irwin, “he is pumped and ready to go.”

“If you never have confidence in yourself, you’re not going to go anywhere,” he said.

Military Life

Why the Army cutting out BS training was inevitable

A recent decision by the Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, has been met with universal praise: No more stupid, mandatory training programs!

In fairness to the now-defunct online classes, yes, Soldiers should be aware of the risks inherent in traveling, the dangers of misusing social media, and that human trafficking is still a concern in 2018. But did the process of taking a four-day pass really need to include a mandatory class about why seat belts are important? Probably not.


4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
I’m just saying, take one roll-over training class and you’ll never again drive without a seat belt.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua)

In his April 13th, 2018, memo, Secretary Mark Esper wrote,

“Mandatory training will not have a prescribed duration for conducting the training. All mandatory training must have alternative methods of delivery which do not require the use of an automated system or project system.”

To be clear, his decision is not cancelling all military training — that’d be ridiculous. It’s just stopping the online classes that are, essentially, glorified PowerPoint presentations. These are the classes that need to get done just so a box is checked, regardless of whether a troop actually learned the lesson or not.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
And everyone except the over-zealous Butterbar knows PowerPoints should be on the chopping block next.
(Photo by Sgt. Ashland Ferguson)

So, let’s break this down to a boots-on-ground level for a regular private first class trying to see his or her family over leave. According to older standards, the Soldier would have to log on the website, click “Next” repeatedly until they reach the end, and hope they can get at least a 60% on the final quiz.

Now, the responsibility is back in the hands of the NCOs. If a sergeant feels the need to break down, Barney-style, why a wearing a seat belt reduces crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, then it’s on them. If they don’t feel the need to re-explain obvious traffic laws, they can instead spend the two hours that would otherwise been used on clicking “Next” for, you know, actual military training.

Military Life

5 reasons why troops stick together after they leave the service

The moment a troop gets his or her DD-214, they start to feel that bittersweet freedom settle in. Sure, they can enjoy the little things in life, like sleeping in until 8 am, and go more than a single day without shaving, but life is never the same. Saying your goodbyes to the brothers and sisters you’ve earned is the hardest.

Every now and then, however, a troop won’t find themselves alone — a comrade will join them in the civilian world.


It’s a true sign of friendship when those veterans who fought together are now cruising the local bars as a unit, just like they did when they were still in.

It’s not uncommon for veterans to make friends with other veterans, but this one goes out to the buddies that endure the suck and venture into the civilian world, shoulder to shoulder.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

It’s always good to have someone to embrace the new suck with.

Their goals and interests are aligned

Friendships in the military are formed by sharing suffering, but brotherhood is formed when two can talk to each other about things outside of work.

If both veterans share plans of doing something, like attending college to get a degree in criminal justice, they’ll do it together. They’ll probably be roommates through it all, too.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

You’ll need someone with a tolerance for BS as low as yours.

They can’t relate to civilians

The civilian-military divide is real. Not only do civilians have a hard time understanding what being in the military is really like, the troops also lose touch with what civilians are up to.

Trends in pop culture don’t have any real effect on people who’ve been in a desert for 12 months without internet access. The only people veterans can relate to are the other troops who also skipped whatever viral joke is currently big.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

No one will lie for you like the guys that covered for you when you were “at dental.”

(Meme via Pop Smoke)

Their friendship circle is closed enough

There’s an upper limit on good will for most veterans. Keeping track of all the niceties you’re socially obligated to upkeep gets exhausting. The only thing you need to do to maintain a strong bond with another veteran is show up with beer.

An easy test of a friendship is if both can sit and drink a beer in silence without feeling awkward.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

It’s hard to impress veterans when sh*t like this was just called “Tuesday.”

They know how to keep things interesting

Veterans are rarely boring. A civilian friend may come over for a beer and talk about mundane crap, but veteran stories are always filled with foul, disgusting, and down-right hilarious details.

This isn’t even a skill that’s shared among the troops that served together. Veterans have mastered the art of enjoying the little things in life — you’ll never find a better storyteller.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

Get out with your brother and you’ll never have to bother the prior service recruiter.

They promised each other they would

The military has bred us to be creatures of commitment. If we say something in passing, we’re going to keep our word — no matter how insignificant or nearly impossible it seems.

Years down the line, one veteran will turn to the other and say something along the lines of, “I promised you that I would, didn’t I?”

MIGHTY MONEY

This meditation company is giving away free downloads to veterans

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Deployed Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coalition partners and civilians go relax as they finish the largest Yoga session to take place in Qatar history July 11, 2015 at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.


A meditation company with an iTunes app is offering free downloads to veterans. Meditation Studios has developed 200 meditation tracks that can be downloaded through their app in the iTunes store.

Through a recent partnership with Give Back, the company created the Veterans Collection, a unique series of meditations that are designed to help veterans improve their focus, relieve stress, and encourage better sleep.

In a statement to We Are the Mighty, Meditation Studios said:

Please enjoy these complimentary meditations from Meditation Studio App. For more from this collection, download the app. The guided meditations in the Veterans collection will help to improve focus, relieve stress, encourage better sleep and generally bring more peace of mind. The mind can be a great source of distress when it’s out of control. When we can relax, pause or slow the mind down, it becomes a source of consolation and peace. As we learn to meditate, we learn to recognize emotions, thoughts and sensations without reacting to them. It helps us to respond more thoughtfully, without impulse or overreaction. This can be very comforting, giving veterans more control over the thoughts and emotions that accompany a return from deployment.

The downloads are available through the app, or through SoundCloud. The app, which is $3.99 and has high ratings, features unlimited access to all of the company’s meditations and courses; population and situation specific mediations; step-by-step “courses” with instruction on proper meditation; meditations in various lengths to fit into busy schedules; a section for tracking progress, scheduling meditations, and an in-app calendar.

The meditations offered by Meditation Studios are Self Care and Relax and Energize.

An uncontrolled study published in Military Medicine in June, 2011 found that meditation among Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combat veterans with moderately severe post traumatic stress “may have helped to alleviate symptoms of PTSD and improve quality of life in veterans of OEF/OIF with combat-related PTSD.”

A similar study by the Army in 2013 determined that meditation could have a positive impact on PTSD, and noted that more research was needed.

The VA notes that meditation, when combined with other treatments, may “improve outcomes” of treatment.

MIGHTY TRENDING

6 ways you know you’re married to a veteran

Being married to someone who dedicated a portion of his life in service to our great nation is something of which I’m incredibly proud. I spent the better part of my adult life supporting his service and I would do it all again because I love him and believe his choice to join the Marine Corps was honorable and brave.


But even now, 18 months after his retirement, there are things that happen in our daily lives that make me smile because I am certain they’re completely foreign to my friends who are married to “civilians.” These are 6 such things:

6. You’ve ever had to say, “don’t you knife hand me!”

I might say this at least once a week. Okay, once a day. That knife hand is fierce and even my 5-year-old will employ it from time to time. Oorah.

(Image via GIPHY)

Related: 4 things you should never say to a military spouse

5. You are 15 minutes early to everything.

And even then, my husband is stressed out. After all, if you are on time, you’re late. I’m not mad at this one (most days). My teenager has also learned this life skill and will do just about anything not to be “on time.”

(Image via GIPHY)

4. There is green gear everywhere.

Even though he’s no longer active duty, we still have duffle bags, green socks that I swear multiply if they get wet after midnight, paracords, backpacks, and those little black, clicky pens. Everywhere. And don’t even think about trying to get rid of those green t-shirts. Just don’t do it.

(Image via GIPHY)

3. Your spouse, before bedtime, says, “I’m gonna go check the perimeter.”

Firearm strapped to his hip, my husband will go check the perimeter just to make sure we are all safe. I love this, but I don’t think any of my non-military spouse friends get this level of security each night. I’ll take it.

(Image via GIPHY)

2. When you can’t watch military films or TV shows…

We’ll settle in for a great movie or TV show that has something to do with the military. Then, like clockwork, he pauses the DVR. “First of all… that ribbon is in the wrong place. And look at those stripes! No way does an E-5 have that many years of service. Who is advising this film?!”

Every. Time.

Also read: This is why there’s no excuse for Hollywood to screw up military uniforms

(Image via GIPHY)

1. That face.

You know the one I am talking about. When a movie, TV show, or really great military-related commercial comes on and it touches your veteran. You look over and he/she is biting that bottom lip just slightly, eyes are welling a bit, but they are trying hard not to cry.

You realize it has reminded them of someone who didn’t come home or an experience they may never feel ready to share and you’re reminded of just how incredible your spouse is for signing on that line and agreeing to pay the ultimate price for our country.

And then you say a little prayer of thanks that your spouse is one of the lucky ones.

(Image via GIPHY)

Military Life

Dress uniforms from every military branch, ranked

There is a multitude of military uniforms across the five branches and they all serve a purpose. Uniforms are (intended) to be functional and cater to the specific career fields that exist in each military branch. However, when it comes to appearance — especially dress uniforms — there are some that outshine others.


Let’s take a look at whose uniform wins the race, appearance wise.

5. Air Force

Sorry, my dear Air Force, but you have the worst uniform out of all services. Granted, the Air Force is the youngest of all branches, so there might still be some room for growth, but why does everyone wearing their dress blues look like a flight attendant? Please, just give the uniform some variety already.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

There’s nothing special about Air Force dress blues or the horrendous gray, green, tiger-striped ABUs that are worn on a daily basis. Also, anytime a cardigan is an acceptable, issued uniform item, you might as well openly welcome the heckling when you raise your hand to enlist. Hopefully, things get better with age.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving

4. Coast Guard

Who would have thought that the Coast Guard would outshine the Air Force on this? Let’s be honest, the only thing that separates the Air Force dress uniform from the Coast Guard dress uniform is the gold insignias, buttons, and rank. Maybe it’s a tie? At this point, the gold is the only detail that gives the Coast Guard an upper hand.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
SEAL Tridents definitely help.

Truthfully, while the Air Force looks like flight attendants, the Coast Guard at least has a white and black hat the makes them look like airline pilots. Oh, and the operational dress uniform (ODU) doesn’t consist of tiger stripes, but a solid dark blue that is just so vanilla they don’t stand out as memorable. That utility baseball cap isn’t doing any favors for anybody, either.

3. Army

Something about the old school green uniform stirs up nostalgia. The Army dress uniform has changed over the past 242 years of existence, but for some reason, the classic look of the uniform reminds everyone how the Army has always had their sh*t together.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
(Stares in Army)

There’s no hodgepodge of colors, nor does it make the service member look like they could be mistaken for anything other than a soldier. Simplicity gives the Army uniform some kick to outperform the predecessors. The Army Service Uniform (ASU), in particular, brings forth some finery with its class A’s and class B’s, to be worn on varying occasions.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
There’s a lot of sh*t on Army uniforms to get together.

2. Navy

Selection, selection, selection… maybe this is why the Coast Guard and Air Force seem so bland? The Navy is steeped in traditions and these traditions are upheld and displayed through a variety of different dress combinations. As with the Army, the Navy has the old-school, nostalgic vibe of bygone eras. Who doesn’t remember the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square?

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
She definitely remembered.

The Cracker Jack uniform, as it’s known, is probably one of the most iconic and well-known uniforms out there. Although bell-bottoms are not necessarily the first thing anyone wants to be wearing there are so many more uniforms in the Navy’s arsenal that we can look past the ridiculousness of the 70’s trend.

1. Marine Corps

Who doesn’t love the look of a red stripe down the pants of a dress uniform? There is just something so put-together, so sharp about the Marine Corps uniforms. Not only does this uniform blow every other uniform out of the water, but it also has some impressive folklore attached. The red stripe on non-commissioned officers trousers, for instance, is said to commemorate those who lost their lives during the storming of Chapultepec Castle in 1847, during the Mexican-American War.

4 ways to enjoy the outdoors while serving
Guys, it’s okay. We all know this doesn’t only apply to women, even though you won’t admit it.

While most of the stories behind the uniform have been found to be untrue, it’s still the only uniform that has such well-told history and legend attached. Well, the Corps took the prize in this race, and who can really disagree with its clean sweep? You win this one, Marine Corps… You win.

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