Very few things truly connect every troop from every era in the military quite like a cup of coffee. From the gritty First Sergeant who drinks it black to the fresh Lieutenant who likes a bit of coffee with their sugar, everybody’s veins in the military are filled with coffee.
Coffee has been a staple of the American military ever since the first Revolutionary patriot signed up to throw the tea into Boston Harbor — fueled entirely for their hatred of tea. Our love of java necessitated the creation of instant coffee in the Civil War, and we’ve been drinking it ever since.
Here are 6 reasons why coffee truly is the lifeblood of the military.
6. Everyone meets at the coffee pot
Coffee is the great equalizer. Everyone, from privates to colonels, meets to grab their morning (or afternoon, or evening) cup of Joe.
When the pot is finished, refilling it is one of the few tasks that isn’t assigned to the lowest ranks, but rather to whoever drank the last cup.
5. We get very little sleep
To the surprise of absolutely no one, troops rarely get eight hours of sleep.
The higher the rank of a troop, the less they’re allowed to show sleepiness. Coffee helps mask that exhaustion.
4. Something warm in the field is nice
In combat arms units especially, you’re seen as weak if you can’t endure the elements.
Grab another layer of clothes? Weakness. Throw on a fleece jacket? Weakness. Grab a warm cup of coffee? Carry on, soldier.
3. It’s a reminder of back home
There isn’t much time, space, or ability to pine for life back home.
Troops take great care when they prepare a pot of coffee. They can skimp on many necessities of life but will always spend the big bucks to get the “good stuff” from their civilian life.
2. It’s a little break from reality
The military is a very high-speed piece of machinery. You’ll run from point A to point B, over to C, back to B, asked why you aren’t at D, and get there only to realize everyone is at C — and so on until your brain is fried.
At least for those brief moments, when you’re drinking a cup of coffee, you can relax.
1. It just tastes good
There’re countless ways to stay warm, awake, and hydrated. Coffee isn’t the only option.
The fact of the matter is, we just love the taste — regardless of how we make it.
There aren’t many ranks throughout the U.S. Armed Forces that have a lateral promotion between two separate ranks at the same pay grade. The difference between Master Sergeants and First Sergeants is nearly the same as Sergeants Major and Command Sergeants Major. One is a command position and the other enjoys their life isn’t.
And then there is the anomaly that only exists within the Army’s E-4 pay grade system: having both a non-commissioned officer rank, Corporal, and the senior lower enlisted rank, Specialist.
Originally, the U.S. Army rank went from Private First Class directly into the leadership position of a Corporal — similar to the way it works in the Marine Corps. They would take their first steps into the wider world of leadership. In the past (and still to this day), they serve more as assistant leaders to their Sergeant, generally as an assistant squad leader or fire-team leader.
Today, Corporals are often rare in the U.S. Army outside of combat arms units. While a Corporal is by all definitions an NCO, they aren’t often privy to the niceties of Sergeants and above. It’s very common to hear phrases like: “We need all E-4’s and below for this duty” — that includes the Corporal. The other side of the coin is when an ass chewing comes down on the NCOs of a unit: “We need all NCOs in the training room, now” — that, too, includes the Corporal.
A specialist exists as a mid-century relic where a separate rank system was established to differentiate someone who was a “Specialist” in their MOS but not necessarily an NCO. This would mostly apply to, for example, a member of the Army band member outside of D.C or West Point. From 1959 to 1968, this went up from E-4 (Spec/4) to E-9 (Spec/9) but it slowly tapered off until 1985 when it became just an E-4 rank.
This is more or less the concept of the modern Specialist. The idea is that a Specialist would focus on their MOS instead of leading troops. In practice, a specialist is given the responsibilities of being a buffer zone between Privates and Sergeants. In execution, they often shrug off physical duties to the lower ranks and any leadership duties to the higher ranks. This is called the “sham shield of the E-4 Mafia.”
A Specialist is definitely the easier rank. Think of a big fish in a little pond versus the little fish in the big pond. The Privates are required to show respect to their senior ranks, so they treat both the Specialist and the Corporal as a higher-up. But often times the Senior Enlisted ignore Specialists but toss things like paperwork onto the Corporal. Sergeants tend to treat Specialists with more leniency. If they mess up something small, it’s fine. If a Corporal messes up at all, they get an ass chewing like the big kids.
But there is a positive note for the Corporal that comes with having more responsibility. While it isn’t necessary for a Specialist to become a Corporal to move on to Sergeant, a Corporal rank shows that the soldier is ready for more responsibility and will show that the soldier is far more responsible when it comes to picking positive things like when a slot for an awesome school opens up.
The Corporal will more than likely get in before the Specialist.
It’s the first sergeant’s job to assist the commanding officer in matters of discipline, administrative work, and the unit’s morale and welfare. Regardless of how well this mission is completed in the eyes of the lower-enlisted, earning the rank of first sergeant takes many years of hard work and dedication to the Marine Corps.
Members of the E-8 pay-grade are some of the most interesting and badass Marines you’ll ever meet as you climb through the ranks. They come in several varieties:
Good luck getting your original voice back after all those years of screaming at young recruits.
The former drill instructor
You can easily identify this type of first sergeant. First, listen to how raspy their voice is from years of yelling at recruits during training. This type of first sergeant is outstanding at calling cadences during PT and formation marches — for good reason; they’ve had plenty of practice.
The one that everyone respects
Once you enter the infantry, you’ll begin to judge other Marines and sailors based purely on they the way they look. There’s tons of competition within infantry houses; it’s our way of sizing up those we must outperform. However, there are a few senior-enlisted Marines whose appearances alone will tell you that they’re complete badasses.
You’ll look up to these guys.
1st Sgt. Ambroga Carson Jr, addresses guests during his retirement ceremony on Camp Johnson N.C.
Some Marines hold audiences captive with riveting speeches while others send people drifting off to sleepyland. Those who can keep your attention speak from their diaphragms and sound off like they have a pair. These vocal commanders are used to addressing whole companies of Marines and have tons of epic stories to tell.
The one who knows every freakin’ regulation in the book
An excellent first sergeant knows all the ins-and-outs their job — which is hard. Some troops will (foolishly) try to pull a fast one on the Marine who controls all the administrative work for the entire infantry company. However, these types of first sergeants don’t even have to bat an eye when it comes to Marine Corps policy.
They will rattle off nearly every regulation in the book if you try and test them.
It’s a well-known fact the Air Force literally came from the Army. From the Aeronautical Division, Signal Corps to the Air Corps, to the complete and separate U.S. Air Force, airmen have long been in the shadow of the Army soldier.
It’s a tiny but non-negotiable fact.
1. Sibling rivalry
If you have a big brother or sister, you know how it is. They came first so they always get a certain amount of attention from mommy and daddy that we, the baby brother, will rarely get.
In this case, mommy and daddy are the American public and big brother is the Army. America will always view the Army in the way our parents view the older sibling. And that stings.
2. How’s the Army?
Every Airmen who’s ever worn their uniform in public and away from a military community has heard this or been referred to as a “soldier.” And it sucks. A lot. The worst part is that our uniforms have at least two things printed on them: our last name and U.S. AIR FORCE!
Now that we all have different uniforms, you’d think this would be enough to be accurately recognized…and you’d be wrong.
3. The Army gets cool stuff first
I distinctly remember being a young airman in the early aughts and stationed in the the great state of Hawaii. Until this point, I assumed that I had all the latest and greatest the DoD had to offer. This view was shattered when I went to the firing range on Schofield Barracks one beautiful day.
We were greeted at the gate by a handful of Army Military Police who were carrying gorgeous new rifles: the M4. I was in pure awe and full of jealousy. Was I not a part of the military police brethren simply because I wore blue and they wore green? It chafed for some three years until I would finally be assigned my own M4.
4. The Army promotes faster
I recall befriending a young soldier back in those early days in Hawaii. We arrived to the island around the same time and were both in our respective services’ law enforcement components. We were decent enough pals, but this is the early 2000s we’re talking about. It was much easier to lose contact with someone in those days.
A couple years passed and we both progressed. I was studying for my first crack at the Staff Sergeant promotion test. I ran into my old pal and he was WEARING Army staff sergeant. Yes, I was about to test for E-5 for the first time and he was already wearing E-6. The conversation was short and I cried a little in the car.
5. The Army gets bigger bonuses
This one really isn’t too hard to explain. That same Army pal re-enlisted around the same time I did. He was able to buy a brand new Cadillac Escalade with his bonus. I could afford some clothes and few nights out.
6. Army Dress Blues Air Force Dress Blues
This is actually quite a sore spot for most airmen. Our dress blues are little more than a blue suit with the appropriate military identifiers on them. So this one applies to every other service…we hate you guys for this.
7. Army Combat Uniform vs. Airman Battle Uniform
Sticking with the uniform issue could honestly take a while. Our uniforms are all at once great and horrible. The problem here is that the ACU is actually wash and wear. You can take that uniform out of the dryer and put it on. You’re out of the door in a few minutes.
I wouldn’t dare try that with the ABU. It may be an Air Force Security Forces thing but when they introduced it as “wash and wear” I laughed…then I stopped laughing because I knew that would never apply to me.
Fifteen years after a 17-hour battle on an Afghan mountaintop, a pararescueman’s extraordinary heroism was recognized with an Air Force Cross, upgraded from a Silver Star, following a service-wide review of medals awarded since 9/11.
Then-Tech. Sgt. Keary Miller –against overwhelming odds and a barrage of heavy fire from Al Qaeda militants– dashed through deep snow into the line of fire multiple times to assess and care for critically-wounded U.S. service members, March 4, 2002.
Miller was previously awarded the Silver Star medal for these actions, Nov. 1, 2003. The Air Force Cross is the service’s highest combat medal for valor, second only to the Medal of Honor.
“We are blessed to have Airmen like Keary in the Special Tactics community,” said Col. Michael Martin, the 24th Special Operations Wing commander, who directed training for Miller’s pararescue team before their deployment in 2002. “In an extraordinary situation, Keary acted with courage and valor to save the lives of 10 special operations teammates. This medal upgrade accentuates his selflessness despite an overwhelming enemy force…although Keary may humbly disagree, he belongs to a legacy of heroes.”
Miller was deployed from the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, an Air National Guard unit based in Standiford, Kentucky. During the mission, he was the Air Force combat search and rescue team leader assigned to a U.S Army Ranger quick reaction force.
“I would describe Keary as a dedicated pararescueman – dedicated to his craft and dedicated to the motto ‘That others may live.’ That’s how he defined himself and that really defines his actions that day,” said Lt. Col. Sean Mclane, the 123rd STS commander, who was a second lieutenant in Miller’s home unit during that time. “We have a proud legacy and a tradition of valor, and Keary is a big part of that.”
On March 4, 2002, his team was tasked to support a joint special operations team on a mountaintop called Takur Ghar, occupied by Al Qaeda forces– an engagement commonly known as the Battle of Roberts Ridge after the first casualty of the battle, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts.
One of the most significant events in recent Special Operations history began when a joint special operations team attempted to infiltrate Takur Ghar, which held a well-fortified and concealed force. The ensuing battle would result in the loss of seven special operations team members.
“We were notified there was a missing aircrew and we were launching a team to go find them,” said Maj. Gabriel Brown, a Special Tactics officer, formerly an enlisted combat controller. “It was unknown who exactly was missing, but we loaded up two helicopters full of Rangers and the (combat search and rescue) package, which included me, Senior Airman Jason Cunningham [pararescueman] and Keary, who was my team leader. I trusted him.”
As the quick reaction force helicopter made its approach over the landing zone, they were struck by rocket propelled grenades at close range –they returned fire with mini guns, but the helicopter impacted the ground hard, lurching into the snow.
“Once we landed, 7.62mm rounds ripped through the fuselage–the daylight popping through, smoke aglow; then the rotors decelerated to a grinding halt,” Brown said. “Immediately, we had several casualties; I remember seeing two Rangers face down. Keary and I were deep in the aircraft—and we made eye contact and shared kind of a ‘here we go’ moment.”
The team disembarked from the aircraft to combat the blistering fire of a waiting enemy. At great risk to his own life, Miller moved through the snowy terrain, crossing into the line of fire on several occasions in order to assess and care for critically wounded servicemen.
“I saw Keary taking action on the wounded, worried about collecting the casualties and triaging them,” Brown said, who was in charge of aircraft communications and precision strike. “He was careful in his thoughts and actions, conducting himself calmly and coolly – relaying the casualty information to me all morning.”
As the battle continued, Miller collected ammunition from the deceased to distribute it to multiple positions in need of ammo, moving through heavy enemy fire each time.
“I was listening to the updates as they were coming in; I was so proud because my friends were on that mountain and their future was so uncertain but they were rocking it – they were doing everything right,” Mclane said, who was listening real-time to satellite communications of the battle. “It’s like, these guys might not make it off this mountain, but by God, they’re going down swinging.”
When Cunningham was killed during another attack, the casualty collection point he was at was compromised. Miller assumed Cunningham’s role — providing medical aid under fire to the wounded – and braved enemy fire to move the wounded to better cover and concealment.
“I wholeheartedly believe the Air Force Cross accurately represents Keary’s actions that day,” said Brown. “I know those lives were saved that day were because of his efforts within that environment…the steps he took to ensure they made it off the battlefield.”
Miller is credited with saving the lives of 10 U.S. service members that day, and the recovery of seven who were killed in action.
Following his deployment, Miller returned to the 123rd STS as a mentor for the newest generation of operators. The events he experienced helped him to shape tactics, techniques and procedures for years to come.
“Keary was already a mature pararescueman before he went on that mission,” Mclane said. “But, when he returned, he really dedicated himself to improving our body armor, our equipment, our (tactics, techniques and procedures) when under fire – he was driven to be better, and to make his teammates better.”
In a report issued May 1, the Pentagon said that nearly 6,200 military members said that sexually explicit photos of them were taken or shared against their will by someone from work, and it made them “uncomfortable, angry, or upset.” And, across the services, female Marines made up the largest percentage of women who complained.
More than 22,000 service members said they were upset or angry when someone at work showed or sent them pornography. And, again, female Marines represented the highest percentage of complaints from women.
The responses reflect a growing concern across the military about inappropriate social media behavior. The scandal came to light last month when sexually explicit photos of female and male Marines were being shared on a secret Facebook page. The revelation triggered a wide-ranging criminal investigation that now encompasses all the services, and has prompted changes and restrictions in military social media policies.
The latest survey results, however, make it clear that the issue has long been simmering in the military.
Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention office, said the results “tell us that this is a problem and we have to start having more conversations about social media behavior.”
The survey was released as part of the annual report on sexual assault and harassment in the military. It found that reports of sexual assaults in the military increased slightly last year, and more than half the victims reported negative reactions or retaliation for their complaints.
Defense officials, however, said the anonymous survey done as part of the report showed some progress in fighting sexual assault, as fewer than 15,000 service members described themselves as victims of unwanted sexual contact. That is 4,000 fewer than in a 2014 survey.
Because sexual assault is a highly underreported crime, the Pentagon has used anonymous surveys for several years to track the problem. The survey was sent to more than 735,000 service members between June and October 2016, and more than 150,000 responded.
The two social media questions were asked for the first time in last year’s survey, Galbreath said, because the issue was becoming more of a concern.
According to the data, 1.3 percent of military women said someone took or shared explicit photos of them against their will. When divided according to military service, 2.3 percent of female Marines made that complaint, compared to 1.5 percent of female soldiers, 1.6 percent of female sailors and .5 percent of female airmen.
On the pornography question, 4 percent of military women said someone showed or sent them sexual explicit material that made them upset or angry. Six percent of female Marines had that problem, compared to 5 percent of female sailors, 4.5 percent of female soldiers and 2.1 percent of female airmen. The percentages of men complaining were much smaller overall.
The Marine Corps is the smallest military service, so while the percentages were the largest, the actual numbers of people affected were likely smaller than the other services.
Separately, the data released by the Pentagon on May 1 showed there were 6,172 reports of sexual assault filed in 2016, compared to 6,083 the previous year. The largest increase occurred in the Navy, with 5 percent more reports. There was a 3 percent jump in the Air Force. The Army and Marine Corps had slight decreases.
For more than a decade, the Defense Department has been trying to encourage more people to report sexual assaults and harassment. The agency says greater reporting allows more victims to seek treatment.
On retaliation, it found that 58 percent of victims last year said they faced some type of “negative behavior,” but only 32 percent described circumstances that could legally be described as retribution. This includes professional retaliation, administrative actions, or punishments. In 2015, 38 percent reported such actions.
Retaliation has been a difficult issue to sort out, and the Defense Department has been adjusting its measurements for several years. It seeks to differentiate between more serious workplace retribution and social snubs that, while upsetting, are not illegal.
The anonymous survey, meanwhile, showed a steady decline in the number of service members saying they experienced unwanted sexual contact, which can be anything from inappropriate touching to rape.
Of the 14,900 people who said they experienced some type of unwanted sexual contact, 8,600 were women and 6,300 were men.
So, you’ve got a fever and the only cure is a consensual adult relationship that violates the Uniform Code of Military Justice? It happens.
And by the way, it can happen among friends, but for this article, we’re going to talk about sexual or romantic relationships.
Paraphrasing here from the
Manual for Courts Martial: Fraternization in the military is a personal relationship between an officer and an enlisted member that violates the customary bounds of acceptable behavior and jeopardizes good order and discipline.
That’s a mouthful, but it boils down to the intent of guidelines for any relationship among professionals: The appearance of favoritism hurts the group, and, with the military in particular, could actually get someone killed.
But we’re only human, right? It’s natural to fall for someone you work with, so here are a couple of tips that can help keep you out of Leavenworth:
1. Don’t do it
Seriously. Cut it off when you first start to feel the butterflies-slash-burning-in-your-loins. Flirting is a rush and it’s fun and
Hit the gym. Take a break.
Swipe right on Tinder. Do whatever you have to do to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control.
2. Be discreet
Okay, fine, you’re going for it anyway. We’ve all been there (nervous laughter…).
People are more intuitive than you think. Don’t give them any reason to suspect you and your illicit goings-on. Be completely professional at work. Don’t flirt in the office. Don’t send sweet nothings over government e-mail (yes, it is being monitored).
3. Keep it off-base
Don’t be stupid, okay? Get away from the watchful eyes all the people around you who live and breathe military regulations.
4. Square away
The thing about military punishment is that you are usually judged by your commander first. If you do get caught, you want people to really regret the idea of punishing you.
Be amazing at your job — better yet, be the best at your job. Be irreplaceable. Be a leader and a team player and a bad ass. Set the example with your physical fitness and your marksmanship and your ability to destroy terrorism.
Be beloved by all and you just might get away with a slap on the wrist…
5. Plausible deniability
I would never tell you to lie because integrity and honor are all totes important and stuff, but…
If lawyers can’t prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were actually engaged in criminal activity, you could be spared from a conviction.
Maybe it was just a coincidence that you both
happened to be volunteering at the same time. It was for the orphans…
How could you have known that you both like to spend Christmas in Hawaii?
It’s not your fault Sgt. Hottie wanted to attend a concert in the same town where your parents live, right?
6. Talk it out
If you can’t have a mature conversation with this person about how to conduct yourselves in the workplace or how you’d each face the consequences of being discovered, you really shouldn’t be getting it on.
You are both risking your careers and livelihoods because of this relationship — don’t take it lightly.
And whatever you do, treat each other with honesty and respect — you’re all you have right now.
7. Don’t go to the danger zone
I know you know this, but here’s the thing: REALLY DON’T DO IT (PUN INTENDED) WHILE IN A COMBAT ZONE.
This is life and death. Remind yourself why you chose to serve your country. Pay attention to the men and women around you who trust you and rely on you to protect them.
LOCK IT UP. You’re a warrior and you have discipline.
Did we leave anything out? Leave a comment and let us know.
In the military, it’s impossible to say what the next week will bring. Thankfully, the ranks are chock-full of talented photographers that are always capturing what life as a service member is like, both in training and at war.
These are the best photos of the week:
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, left, greets Airman 1st Class Jessica Provencal, a fire team member assigned to the 736th Security Forces Squadron during his visit to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Feb. 8, 2018. The contingency response Airmen of the 736th SFS provide first-in force protection for the 36th Contingency Response Group during airbase opening, contingency, and humanitarian assistance operations throughout the Indo-Pacific area of operations.
U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Stone Williford, 20th Civil Engineer Squadron real property specialist, removes dirt to level the ground at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Feb. 6, 2018. Volunteers worked together and combined their various skills to rebuild the overflow bridge at Memorial Lake.
Pfc. Hunter Wood (left), military policeman assigned to the 287th MP Company, 97th MP BN, 89th MP BDE, deployed in support of Battle Group Poland receives a 2nd Cavalry Regiment coin of excellence from Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Muhlenbeck, 2CR senior enlisted advisor, for his unwavering work ethic as a gunner and initiative on being accountable for his military vehicle’s maintenance and progress while simultaneously ensuring mission success, near Bemowo Piskie Training Area, Poland Feb. 8, 2018. Battle Group Poland is a unique, multinational battle group, comprised of U.S., U.K., Croatian and Romanian soldiers who serve with the Polish 15th Mechanized Brigade as a deterrence force in northeast Poland in support of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.
2nd Lt. Isaac Bandfield, infantry officer, 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment, qualifies on the M240B to obtain an Expert Infantry Badge Feb. 6 at Fort Bliss, Texas. The qualification includes three steps, which are disassembling the weapon, assembling the weapon, and clearing then firing the weapon.
Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, second from left, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, speaks with members of the Qatar Emiri Naval Forces and U.S. Army in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). 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.
Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Samuel Wellington helps Fire Controlman 1st Class John Willman practice aiming down the sight of an M4 rifle during a small-arms gun shoot aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71). Ross, forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, is on its sixth patrol in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of regional allies and partners and U.S. national security interests in Europe.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller shakes hands with Marines during a visit to Recruiters School aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif., February 8, 2018. Neller addressed the Marines about his latest Message to the Force: Execute and answers questions.
Marines with Company F, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, pause to check the scheme of maneuver before a platoon formation rehearsal during exercise Winter Break 2018 near Camp Grayling, Michigan, Feb. 8, 2018. Winter Break 18 challenges Marines of Fox Co., 4th Tank Bn. to contend with employment problems caused by extreme cold weather and snow and adapt to the operational challenges of a severe climate.
Leighton Tseu, Kane O Ke Kai, gives a Hawaiian blessing during the arrival of the Coast Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Gerczak (WPC 1126), at Coast Guard Base Honolulu, Feb. 4, 2018. The Joseph Gerczak is the second of three Honolulu-based FRCs that will primarily serve the main Hawaiian Islands.
A Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater MH-60 Jawhawk helicopter crewmember medevacs a 42-year-old man suffering from stomach pains from the cruise ship Koningsdam Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 approximately 46 miles east of the Bahamas. Coast Guard 7th District watchstanders launched the aircrew who hoisted the patient with his nurse and transferred them to local emergency medical services at Nassau, Bahamas.
Before starting his job search, Robert People enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with his family.
I retired from the Army in 2018 after serving for 21 years. While I immensely enjoyed my career, people I met, relationships I developed, and lessons I learned, I was ready for the next chapter of my life.
The Army prepares soldiers for this next stage of their life through SFL-TAP (Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program). This is a program in which soldiers transitioning from the military to a civilian career receive assistance with resume writing, interview preparations, and schooling options, such as mechanics training or commercial driver’s license school (CDL), along with much more. I felt that I was set to be just fine and ready to work once I spent some time on vacation.
I enjoyed the first few months after I retired. I was able to spend some time traveling all over the country and visiting my family. I kept in mind all the opportunities that I believed would be available for me as a veteran, along with having obtained my CDL prior to leaving the military.
Because I remembered what I heard from my recently-retired military friends and other retirees who found work shortly after their military careers ended, I thought finding a job would be relatively simple. However, my personal circumstances made that search a little more difficult. Along with this, there were a few other areas I was a little surprised by during my job search.
For those who are following this or a similar path, here are just a few tips I learned that may be helpful:
1. Have a backup plan
Despite all of what was available, flexibility was important. I learned that there were not too many trucking companies where I lived at the time that immediately offered the option of working and coming home every evening, which is something I thought was possible as I went through school. Due to that and other personal circumstances, truck driving was not an option for me at that time. You may have to be prepared to go a different route in a certain area than you initially expected.
2. The devil is in the details
Pay attention Asking specific questions is also necessary and will help in the long run. I was not fully aware that businesses required applications to be completed strictly online, as cover letters were either mandatory or extremely beneficial to be submitted with a resume, depending on the career. I do not blame SFL-TAP for this, because in hindsight I realized that I could have asked better questions or paid better attention to what I saw as “smaller” details back then.
3. Research locations
If you are moving from the area of your last duty station, it is important to learn what you will need for the area you are moving to, along with any changes that you may need to make. I moved from Killeen, Texas, with a population of about 140,000 to the Tampa Bay area in Florida, with a population of nearly 3 million. I thought this might be helpful due to the larger area and population. However, as I wanted to continue working with the military in some capacity, I did not consider that I was moving from a military community to an area where the nearest military base is about a 45-minute drive from where I live.
Shortly after getting settled in Florida, the COVID-19 pandemic happened. For most of 2020, this greatly reduced job opportunities as many businesses had to shut down temporarily and permanently. I looked for opportunities to work from home and saw limited success. I would estimate that I was able to land one interview for about every 25 jobs I applied for, until I was fortunately able to earn a temporary job — with the potential for full-time employment in the future — working for a not-for-profit company that supports the children of fallen special operations troops.
Military retirees often have not worked many jobs, if any at all, before enlisting, since initial enlistments frequently happen during the teenage years. I worked at one fast-food restaurant before joining the Army. Many of us learn this job search and interview process for the very first time in our late 30s to early 40s, or even later. Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be tough, especially when the unexpected happens. But persistence, flexibility and adapting to change can make that process a lot less stressful.
Fighting fires is hungry work. And since firefighters spend long hours, even days, at the fire station, it naturally falls to some schlub rookie to lace up an apron and put food on the table. That’s normally how it goes.
But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.
In South Philadelphia, there’s a fire station where things go down a bit differently. That’s because the members of Philly’s Fire Engine 60, Ladder 19 are lucky enough to count a gourmet chef among their ranks. In fact, he outranks most of them. He’s Lieutenant Bill Joerger, he’s a former Marine and this kitchen is his by right of mastery.
It is a little weird for a ranking officer to spend hours rustling the chow. It’s a little strange that he goes to such lengths to source ingredients for his culinary art. It’s a bit outlandish when those meals are complex enough to necessitate a demo plate.
But Bill Joerger doesn’t care about any of that. When not actively saving lives, he cares about honing his cooking skills, eating well, and creating — in the midst of a chaotic work environment — some small sacred space where everyone can relax and just be people together.
“You have the brotherhood in the Marine Corps, and it’s the same as being in the firehouse…it’s some satisfaction for me to know that I’m producing a good meal for these guys after the things that we deal with on a daily basis.”
Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl spent a day with Joerger at the firehouse, experiencing the often violent stop-and-start nature of a firefighter’s day and, in the down moments, sous-cheffing for the Lieutenant. The story of how Joerger found his way from the Marine Corps to a cookbook and then to the firehouse kitchen is a lesson in utilizing one’s passion to impose some order in the midst of life’s disarray.
A U.S. Navy officer charged with hazing and maltreatment of sailors is facing a general court martial.
The Virginian-Pilot reported April 18 that the unnamed lieutenant commander is accused of verbal abuse and retaliating against a sailor who asked to stop being called Charlie Brown. Court documents say the officer told the sailor to carry a Charlie Brown cartoon figurine at all times.
The officer also allegedly punched a chair next to a sailor and yelled at someone for more than an hour. The officer is also accused of lying about his actions.
Most troops take it easy and try to finish up the last things on their checklists before leaving. For most of us, the final weeks of our military service meant it was time to clean gear, say farewells, and hand off duties to the next guy. Many other short-timers, however, mentally ETS well before crossing the finish line.
The last couple of weeks in the military are often treated as a gentle glide back into the civilian world, but some guys take it to the next level and nosedive into laziness while still wearing their uniform. If you’re looking to make the most of your lazy days, use these tips:
Just say you’re at CIF or you’re cleaning your gear for CIF. It’s enough of a pain in the ass that everyone will just accept it.
(Photo by Spc. Devona Felgar)
Do some next-level skating
This is one of the few moments in your military career where it’s perfectly acceptable to focus on you and what you’ll be doing for yourself after you’re out. In other words, treat yo’ self.
Sham, skate, and be lazy. After a long career in the service, you’ve earned it.
Then again, reminding staff duty that you’ve been gone is fun, too…
(Photo by Chief warrant Officer Daniel McGowan)
Remind everyone of your ETS date
There’s a practical aspect to this. Nobody wants to get calls from staff duty asking why you’re not there when you’ve been out for months.
So, be loud about it. Everyone in the unit should know that you’re almost at the finish line — and that they shouldn’t expect sh*t from you.
No more barracks haircuts for you!
(U.S. Army photo)
Start growing that civilian hairstyle
You can’t start growing that sick, veteran-AF beard just yet, but you can start growing your hair out.
It still needs to be within regulations, but nobody will bother getting in your face if it’s just barely acceptable.
Let some other unfortunate soul handle cleaning connexes.
Hot potato every one of your responsibilities
Before you’re gone, you’ll need to successfully hand off your responsibilities to your replacement. What better way to get them used to your workflow than by giving them all of your work?
Divert all work the expected of you from here on out. If you think about it, you’re really just helping the replacement.
Dental is unsurprisingly expensive in the real world. Get as much done as you can while you’re in.
(Photo by 1st Lt. Rashard Coaxum)
Spend all of your time at health and dental
One of the biggest regrets among veterans is not logging every single service-related pain and injury. If you get a nagging ailment it verified while you’re still in, it’s much easier to get taken care of later.
We know — this is a bit of legitimate advice in an otherwise humorous article. If you’re determined to simply waste time, swing by the aid station all day, every day.
The only hard part of the classes is staying awake.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Rachel Kocin)
Actually go to out-briefing classes
The classes can be helpful and you will need to go for accountability reasons, but it’s entirely on you how much you care.
Put in enough effort and maybe take a few extra classes, just to be safe. Your leadership won’t want to stop you from trying to improve your odds in the civilian world.
Before deploying to a developing country, service members go through a variety of medical screenings and receive vaccinations to prepare their bodies for the microorganisms they’ll come in contact with while overseas. After we arrive at our destinations, it’s necessary to keep ourselves as clean as possible to prevent getting sick and developing skin infections.
Some troops have to rough it, rinsing off using bottles of water, showering under bladder systems, or wiping themselves down with baby wipes to keep clean. Others are lucky enough to have showers setup near their berthing areas.
At first glance, cleaning our ourselves with a handful of baby wipes might sound pretty bad compared to using community showers — but you might prefer those wipes after reading this.
Senior Airman Dustyn White collects a water sample at the Lima Gate entry point at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia. The water entering the base is tested for pH, chlorine, and fecal coliform.
(Photo by Master Sgt. David Miller)
Questioning the water source
The bacteria on our bodies like to grow and get smelly, making frequent showers an essential. However, the quality of that shower is dependent on the type of soap you use and the cleanliness of the water with which you rinse.
If there are showers set up in your FOB, be sure to look into how often the water is tested. Someone should be checking pH, chlorine, and fecal matter levels.
The baby-wipe option might actually be a healthier choice.
Always wear your shower shoes.
I’m standing in a puddle of… what?
Military showers are known for being use at high frequencies by service members who use the facility in a timely manner. As with any community-shower setup, not all the water goes down the drain immediately, and puddles being to build up.
As the next person in line, it’s pretty gross to have to step into a pool of murky, leftover water. You should be wearing shower shoes, but even then, puddles could’ve risen higher than your protective soles — and it might not be just water you’re dipping your toes in.
Open bay showers
The open bay shower has been around for decades and will be around for many more. This setup is ideal for rinsing off large crowds who need to freshen up. Unfortunately, getting sprinkled with water that’s splashing off of someone else’s dirty body can make you feel even nastier than before.
Cleanliness of the highly-used, private shower stalls
On deployment, the vast majority of the military community wakes up, shaves, and then takes a quick shower. Showering off in a private stall may feel a little closer to home, but it also might be a curse in disguise.
When you’ve been forward deployed for months, you’ve probably found yourself in some fairly filthy places. Once you return to the FOB, a hot shower sounds like a good idea before settling down. However, the private stalls are pretty small — there’s not much moving around in there. Be careful as you touch the walls and knots — they might not be sanitized as often as you’d hope.