6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

When you first enlist, there isn’t much room in the process for you to get what you want. Yeah, you can choose your MOS and you’ll probably get lucky with an enlistment bonus and some school options, but there’s only so much a recruiter can get you. Once you’re in for a few years and your reenlistment window opens, however, the retention NCO is the person you really want to sweet talk. Retention NCOs hold the real power — they’ll move heaven and earth to keep troops in the unit and the military.


Keep in mind, the retention NCO isn’t a wizard who can fix all your problems with a whisk of a pen. Whatever you do, don’t ever confuse their willingness to work with you as an invitation to make demands. If you start holding your enlistment for ransom, you will get laughed out of the office.

Think of these more as poker chips for retention to ante up in exchange for you putting up more time in the military. The more valuable you are and the more time you are willing to give to the unit, the more “chips” they’ll put down. If you’re just Joe Schmoe hiding in the back of the platoon, don’t expect more than a few of these.

6. Get into a school

An easy win you can score is the option to get into a school whenever the slot opens up. This is a pretty simple request since it doesn’t involve HRC.

When a commander is notified that there’s room in a school opening up, the retention NCO can shuffle your name up to the top of that list.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Just a tip: If you go to The Sabalauski Air Assault School, don’t wear an 82nd patch. Just throwing that out there — but it will be hilarious for every 101st guy there. (U.S. Army Photo by Army Spc. Brian Smith-Dutton)

Related: These are the difference between Airborne and Air Assault

5. Choice of duty station

A key goal of the retention NCO is to keep the good troops in the unit, but if you request a change of duty station, they’ll understand the bigger picture here is keeping you in the military.

A change of scenery might also give you a new perspective on the military as a whole.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
You, too, can join in on the military tradition of hating your new duty station, loving your old one, and looking forward to the next one! (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Daylena S. Ricks)

4. Have fun with the ceremony

There are very few moments in anyone’s military career where they have the power to dictate what they want and have it happen. Troops can have fun with where the reenlistment takes place, invite friends and family, and, for a brief period during the ceremony, you’re technically “honorably discharged,” so the enlistment period timer is set back to zero.

Of course, you can’t do anything stupid because the ceremony isn’t done yet and the command and retention will hem your ass up if you make a fool of yourself, but briefly “discharged” troops can laugh at the fact that they can finally put their hands in the pockets of their uniform for a whole ten seconds.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
A CS Chamber sounds funny until you have to take your mask off to say the oath… (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Caleb Barrieau)

3. Help with promotion

This one is especially helpful for lower enlisted troops looking for a way to prove to the commander that they’re ready to take the next step in the military.

Reenlisting indefinitely won’t make your name appear on the Sergeant First Class List, but it can help an Army Specialist or Corporal get into the Sergeant board.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Retention can help you get to the board. You’re on your own when you’re there. (U.S. Army Courtesy Photo)

2. Change of MOS

Recruiters (usually) don’t lie, but they don’t shine a light on the reality of certain MOS. If you enlisted hoping for a fun and exciting time in that obscure MOS and now you’re feeling some buyer’s remorse, you can finally reclass.

I mean, you can finally learn that everyone has to embrace the suck: just some more than others.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

1. The money

Nothing sounds better than pure, hard-earned cash. The amount you can earn is dependent on a lot of factors, including available funds, time during the fiscal year, your MOS (or what MOS you want), and your time in service. But you can at least squeeze something out of Uncle Sam if you know how and when to push for a reenlistment bonus.

If you don’t want to haggle for anything else on this list, at least get yourself some zeroes on that paperwork. Just be sure to reenlist while you’re deployed in a combat zone so you can get that money tax-free.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Hey! You might finally be able to pay off that ’69 Camaro you got at a 24% interest rate! (Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

Articles

This is why Marines say flying a Harrier is like ‘riding a dragon’

With the capability to carry a variety of weapons such as air-to-air missiles, precision guided bombs, and a 25mm machine gun that can fire up to 3,600 rounds per minute, the Harrier is the Marine Corps’ top choice when they need close air support where airfields are hard to come by.


“On my first flight, my instructor told me it was going to be like riding a dragon,” says Marine Capt. Brady Cummins during an interview. “He was definitely telling the truth.”

The AV-8B Harrier II was the first Marine tactical aircraft to arrive in the Persian Gulf for Operation Desert Storm in the early ’90s.

Related: How the Sea Harrier defeated more superior fighters during the Falklands War

According to Boeing, the U.S. took 86 Harriers, flew 3,380 combat sorties and totaled 4,112 hours of combat flight time during the 42-day war.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
The Harrier II jet demonstrated it’s effectiveness during Operation Desert Storm. (Source: Naval Technology”

These aerial marvels are known for their fixed-wing vertical short takeoff and landing — also known as “V/STOL” — which makes the Harrier one of the most maneuverable in service. The Harrier’s engines produce 23,000 pounds of thrust, allowing the aircraft to hover like a helicopter or launch forward at near-supersonic speeds.

At only 47 feet long and weighing 15,000 pounds when empty, this combat jet is approximately half the size of other modern fighter jets.

Also Read: The Marine Corps’ love-hate relationship with the AV-8 Harrier

Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see the Marine piloted Harrier soar like a medieval dragon for yourself.

(Smithsonian Channel, YouTube)
MIGHTY MONEY

Army reports lack of training as biggest setback to readiness

Earlier this month, the Army’s top general in charge of supplying units with troops blamed a lack of readiness on limited time for training, adding that lack of funding isn’t the biggest challenge.


Head of Army Forces Command Gen. Robert Abrams said the lack of training stems from lawmakers making policy that commits the service to engagements around the world without an eye toward keeping the force healthy and trained up.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
U.S. Soldiers of Rider Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade record information while conducting a brief during exercise Combined Resolve VII at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels Germany, Sept. 11, 2016. The exercise is designed to train the Army’s regionally allocated forces to the U.S. European Command. Combined Resolve VII includes more than 3,500 participants from 16 NATO and European partner nations. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Caleb Foreman)

Abrams explained that soldiers were expected to deploy more and have less time home because of downsizing.

“Our goal has always been … one month gone, two months back,” Abrams said, adding that the Army is currently experiencing a ratio of “deploy-to-dwell” that trends closer to one month gone, one month back.

“Our commitments worldwide across the globe in support of our combatant commanders remains at a very high level while we continue to simultaneously downsize the total force,” Abrams told an audience at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington.

“Our number one constraint for training is time available.”

Recent budget cuts have forced the Army to reduce its total active duty soldiers to 450,000 while still meeting its obligations worldwide. As a result, the operational tempo for soldiers is higher and more demanding — ultimately requiring soldiers to train more, for longer periods of time, in addition to more and longer deployments, Army officials say.

“The impact of non-standard missions continues to have a degrading effect across our force in being able to sustain proficiency in combined arms maneuver,” Abrams said.

Because soldiers are experiencing a minimal deploy-to-dwell time, there isn’t enough time for soldiers to maintain the training the Army requires.

“We struggle today to maintain and meet Department of the Army standards in our critical combat fleets,” Abrams explained before highlighting unmet requirements within the Army’s aviation and ground fleets. He was quick to explain that in aviation in particular, the problems do not lie with the aviators. The problem stems, instead, with plans to restructure the way the Army finances those fleets, impacting training requirements, upkeep on aircraft, and overall readiness of aviators.

While Abrams was very careful not to blame funding shortfalls for the readiness issues facing the Army, he did not hesitate to blame the readiness of the National Guard in particular on lack of money.

“We’ve dug ourselves this hole because of funding,” Abrams said.

Despite the tough times, Abrams said the Army has made tremendous strides in the last year in terms of readiness and overall capabilities.

“Last year at this exact forum, one of underlying themes was that as an army in terms of our joint war-fighting capabilities, we were pretty rusty,” he said. “I’m happy to report today that we have made progress in our ability.”

Articles

This is one of the largest indoor oceans ever built

Holding over 12-million gallons of water, the “MASK” — which stands for “maneuvering and seakeeping” — is one of the largest man-made indoor oceans in the world. It is located at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Maryland.


The massive water containment measures 240-feet wide and 360-feet long and houses the ability to recreate real oceanic-like characteristics to help design future Naval vessels.

The facility can custom manufacture mini-ships for on-site testing. (Images via Giphy) 

Related: This is how Naval officers conduct a man overboard drill on a ‘killer tomato’

With the ability to create a variety of ocean waves, the researchers can conduct numerous tests on new ship designs at the facility before the larger version is eventually produced.

“We can do a lot of different types of testing here, everything ranging from energy efficient testing to operability,” Dr. Christopher Kent explains.
A depiction of testing video compared to operational. (Images via Giphy)
“As long as we’ve been building ships and boats, we really only started to understand how they work about the last 100 years,” naval engineer Jon Etxegoian states. “And we’re still not there yet.”

The center’s design experts work directly with Naval officials to produce the most advanced ships known to man before the blueprint is sent to the manufacturers.

Also Read: Aerial footage of the Abraham Lincoln super carrier drifting

Check out Department of Defense‘s video below to watch this man-made ocean test the Navy’s newest technologies.

Articles

Air Force wife named 2017 ‘Military Spouse of the Year’

Brittany Boccher, the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Air Force Spouse of the Year, was named the 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year today in a ceremony held in the Hall of Flags at the Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.


Boccher, who lives with her husband and two children aboard Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, has been a military spouse for 11 years.

The president of the Little Rock Spouses’ Club and a board member for the LRAFB Thrift Store, Boccher has devoted years to her military spouse community. In 2016, she helped raise $20,000 in funds and donations with her fellow board members, increased LRSC participation by 800 percent, and providing backpacks for over 300 military children, and more.

Boccher was key to the passage of Arkansas’ House Bill 1162, a law designed to offer tax relief to military retirees who settle in Arkansas.

She is the founder and director of the Down Syndrome Advancement Coalition, a non-profit organization that creates a partnership across Arkansas between other Down Syndrome organizations in order to better advocate for children with the disorder.

Boccher was also advocated for changes to playgrounds and commissaries aboard LRAFB, pressing the installation to make the playgrounds ADA accessible and to secure Caroline Carts for special needs patrons of the commissaries.

In addition to her philanthropic work with military spouses and special needs children, Boccher has her Bachelors Degree in Community Health Education and Kinesiology, a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Leadership and Management, and runs two companies, Brittany Boccher Photography and Mason Chix apparel.

According to her nomination acceptance, Boccher hopes to spend her year as the 2017 AFI Military Spouse of the Year advocating for the Exceptional Family Member Program families and to continue empowering military spouses to success.

Military Life

6 military-life problems that don’t go away when you get out

The DD-214. The magical ticket that ends all of your military life problems that started the moment that recruiter told you that your job doesn’t deploy, you’ll have plenty of time for college, and everyone looks sexy in a uniform.


Except that some of those problems you think of as “military” problems are actually just problems everywhere, and they will absolutely follow you into the civilian world. Here are six of the crappiest parts of the military that will keep coming up at every job:

1. People “Piggy-backing” at the end of meetings

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
If it’s new information, fine. But if you’re seriously just going to rehash this d*mn safety brief, we’re all going to hate you. (via @SpaitoGaming)

Seriously, someone always wants to impress the boss. In the military, this means that safety briefs and other formations go on longer than they should, often with everyone standings or taking a knee as the order “Don’t drink and drive, no, really” is repeated about 14 times.

The only difference in the civilian world is that it’s always a meeting about something mundane like “Stop putting recyclables in the trash compactor” and you’re often, but not always, allowed to sit for it. On the plus side, you’re never required to stand at parade rest, so that’s nice.

2. Obviously contradictory orders

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

Everyone better have 100 percent of their TA-50, no excuses. After all, we already gave you those lockers you can’t use. (via U.S Army W.T.F! moments)

Everyone’s been on that work detail where you get a long briefing about how to clear vines or branches or something safely, and then some private gets told to hold another one by the feet as the second one cuts branches upside down with sharp blades.

But don’t look to the civilian world to make more sense. Get a job in a warehouse and expect to hear stuff like, “Never lift anything over 40 pounds without having a buddy help you. Alright, now Tom, you go move those 50-pound boxes on your own. Everyone else come with me.”

3. Outdated equipment

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
I mean, it’s not like a ship can be 100 percent steel. It would never stop rusting. So we went 40/60.(via Sh*t my LPO says)

Understand that no management on the planet wants to spend money on equipment for their workers until they have to. In the military, that meant it took a couple hundred letters to senators and an exposé on CNN before the command would buy the updated body armor that cost $2 more per plate.

But the civilian side isn’t any better. If that old Atari computer can still track the customer records and the engine jack only leaks a little bit of hydraulic fluid, you can bet that neither of those things is getting upgraded for a while. Probably not until the jack fails and Tom gets crushed under an old Toyota engine.

4. Horrible incompetence in your co-workers

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
I get that you’re mad, I’m just not sure what I was supposed to do differently. (via Sh-t my LPO says)

Come on, you didn’t think that 50-year-0ld supply sergeant crankily waiting to retire as an E-5 while doing absolutely no work only existed in the military, right? If so, brace yourself, because those dudes exist in the civilian world, too.

As a matter of fact, take a look around at your civilian job after you get that beautiful DD-214. If there’s a red-faced, lazy, 55-year-old equipment office manager complaining about how he “doesn’t get enough respect around here,” go ahead and ask when he retired from the military.

5. Having to find weird places to sleep

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
(via Military Memes)

This part, at least, will be an easy transition for most of the skaters and shammers out there. Remember all those late missions and early mornings that drained the batteries, leading to everyone taking turns napping behind the connexes, in humvee seats, or squeezed under the stairs where first sergeant hopefully wouldn’t see?

Well, late nights drinking and early morning freeway dashes to avoid rush hour are only a little more forgiving, leading to you having to find spots to snatch a nap in the copy room, supply closets, and your car. Recommend getting a car with a large cargo bed or folding backseats.

6. Guys who do the bare minimum and act like heroes

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
(via The Salty Soldier)

For everyone who does the bare minimum of their orders, cuts sling loads, and goes to the bar to brag about it, there’s plenty of good jobs in the civilian world for you. Congrats. For everyone else, sorry, those dudes will be at your civilian job, too.

You may be looking forward to heading home at 5 everyday, but remember that the guys in accounting may go home about 4:30. And if you still have to pay an equipment rental place before you head home? Sorry, there’s no one in the office with credit card access. If that screws up your timeline for the next day, that’s really unfortunate.

Military Life

7 do’s and dont’s of surviving toxic leadership in the military

The buzz word that seems to never leave the tips of the Big Military’s tongue is “toxic leadership.” It can be defined as the behavior of a leader who puts their own well-being first while destroying the well-being of everyone underneath them — the type of person who would stand on the neck of their troops if it meant a single “attaboy” from their own superiors.


Do not get this twisted. Toxic leadership is not “Sergeant said something mean to me one time!” It is not “Sergeant had to punish me when I messed up!” And it is not “Sergeant made me do military things!” Toxic leadership is like bad art. You can’t quite nail down how to perfectly define it, but when you see it — you know.

1. Do praise the good leaders

During my time in the Army, I’ve had the pleasure of serving under some damn fine officers and NCOs (a few of which I know read my articles years after I got my own DD-214 blanket.) Every single one of the good ones understand that respect is a two-way street. And every single one took strong stands against the toxic leadership that is “the scoliosis of the backbone of the Army.”

If you want to see the good leaders, shine a light on them. They’re out there. This is best and most effective means to cleaning the toxicity out of the military.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
And you’ll never forget the lessons the damn good ones taught you. (Author is on the far left. Image via Facebook)

 

2. When dealing with toxic leadership, don’t give up 

If you do find yourself under the boot of one of those slimy bastards, continue the fight. If you want to count the days until your blanket, that’s fine. If you want to put an end to that crap to help your brothers and sisters-in-arms, that’s better.

No one should ever hate their time in the military. We’re a family closer than most blood families.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Good leaders aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty with their troops. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Laboy)

 

3. Do respectfully and professionally communicate with them

The first sentence of the U.S. Army and Air Force Non-commissioned officer creed is: No one is more professional than I. The Marines have “I am the backbone of the Marine Corps” and is a sentiment shared by every branch. These are the words they swore to live by. If they are worth a damn, they prove it every day.

Find out if what they’re doing is truly toxic or if there’s just a bigger picture at play. Even if you don’t owe it to them, owe it to the rank they wear.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Never forget, your superiors are still human. They may make mistakes, but they will still have human moments with you. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Aaron S. Patterson)

4. Don’t disrespect their position or rank

That being said, even if every fiber of your being is saying they don’t deserve their rank, you can’t lose your military bearing. Keep the formalities. Stand at attention or parade rest. Refer to them by their rank and don’t use expletives in reference to them.

It’s much harder for your concerns to be taken seriously if you come across as complaining to their peers.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
If you lose your bearing, you lose the fight against toxicity. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade)

 

5. Do Command Climate Surveys

The most mind-numbing briefings and paperwork lower enlisted seem to do is a Command Climate Survey. They seem to get filled with a bunch of fluff that won’t change things — or fluff that can’t be changed. But what actually gets the hosts of the surveys to sit on the edge of their seats is signs of actual toxic leadership.

They won’t bother listening to gripes and complaints. However, if you point out specific events and provide actual solutions: they do listen.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Command Climate Surveys really are the most effective means, even if it doesn’t seem feel it. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class James Vazquez)

 

6. Don’t put toxic leadership on blast

Keep your bearing. If you know the reason they’re not at morning formation isn’t because they’re “at Dental,” you don’t need to shout it out in front of the platoon. And whatever you do, don’t put a photo out of context on social media.

Use the open door policy to their superior. Explain the situation in a more controlled environment that won’t put a target on your back.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
That, and blasting them on Social Media is an offense under UCMJ of online misconduct (Dog used to not single anyone out.) (U.S. Air Force illustration by Airman 1st Class Devin N. Boyer)

 

7. Do strive to be better than toxic leaders

To avoid sounding like one of those knitted pillows on Grandma’s couch, everything is a learning experience. It’s easy to look at the good leaders and follow their footsteps. But it’s much more critical to look at a toxic leader and say “When I’m that rank, I will never be like them.”

Watch them burn, hold your head up high and march forward. Right now, you’re the leader your unit needs.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
These words stuck with me and can be found on the walls of the 7th Army NCO Academy. Never forget them.(Image via AZ Quotes)

When in doubt, make sure they receive this link: How to not be a dirtbag CGO

Military Life

Deputy director finds work-life balance in the Air National Guard

New findings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic reveal millions of women are leaving the workforce after struggling to maintain jobs with increased responsibilities at home. 

One in four women are contemplating downshifting or leaving their careers altogether, according to the Women in the Workplace study, with 2.2 million less women in the workplace compared to 2019 data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Top challenges cited in the study include burnout, childcare and/or homeschooling responsibilities, mental health, and financial insecurity. Advocates recommend companies focus on key areas to make work more sustainable — an attribute the first female deputy director of the Air National Guard sought when she left active duty.

Maj. Gen. Dawne Deskins, says she transitioned from the Air Force after 10 years of active-duty service to find the stability needed to support a growing family. 

“I had been in the Air Force for about 10 years, loved it. I loved the amount of responsibility I had; loved the people who worked with me, served with me, but at that point I also had a family — I had gotten married and had two children, and I really needed something that would allow me more stability because I was having trouble with the work-family balance,” she said. 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Deskins is the first non-pilot and first female to serve as DDANG. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Morgan Lipinski.

The ANG was the solution. Deskins says she was able to join a Guard unit, stay in one place, and keep her children close to extended family members “in a very stable environment.” 

“It filled the need that I had and it allowed me to continue to serve,” she added. 

Deskins initially joined the Air Force to pay for college. She was commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Cornell University in Ithica, New York. Her plan was to serve four years and then move onto her next goal, but her 18-year-old self didn’t account for the possibility that she would find everything she was looking for within the military culture.

“I go back to the people and the professionalism of the people, and that having an organization that is focused on something that is bigger than the individual. Guard members specifically are very focused on being part of a team and being part of something greater and that real sense of service to the community, as well as to the entire country,” Deskins explained.

Deskins made history when she was named the first woman to serve as the deputy director for the ANG and the first non-pilot for the position. In her role, she assists Lt. Gen. Michael Loh, ANG Director, in formulating, developing, and coordinating all policies, plans, and programs affecting more than 107,700 ANG members and civilians in more than 1,800 units, according to her official biography. 

After being sworn in in 2020, she outlined the ANG’s main priorities: 

1) Maximizing warfighter access to limited ANG resource while minimizing manpower costs

2) Collaborating and working on change as part of the total force with the Air Force

3) Empowering airmen to make the right choices by getting at the layers that get between our airmen and senior leaders

4) Developing future leaders

And she expanded the list to include a personal priority surrounding diversity and inclusion.

“I think certainly we are focused on this priority as a Department of Defense right now. I also think it is an area that the Guard has always been on the leading edge of, in how we recruit and retain a diverse workforce, but at the end of the day we work better, we perform better, when we have people who think differently in our force,” Deskins said. 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Deskins visits with airmen from the 162nd Wing in Tucson, Arizona. During Deskins first ever visit to Tucson, she recognized several outstanding airmen, while learning about the unique mission of the 162nd Wing and the 214th Attack Group.

She has been on the receiving end of that leading edge too. Thirty-six years after she first entered the military, Deskins reflects on the mentors who helped her work to this point in her career today — those she describes as “great, strong male leaders” who she credits with wanting to build a force that would one day provide opportunity to other women, like their own.

The New York native encourages others to seek out ways to build formal and informal mentor relationships, starting with being receptive to input from others. 

“I’ll tell you, I try to learn from everything that I do. You can learn more from your failures than your successes, and so I would always sit down with my supervisors and be open to getting feedback. That is the number one thing I would recommend,” Deskins said. 

This article originally appeared on Military Families Magazine. Follow @MilFamiliesMag on Twitter.

Articles

A brief history of US troops playing cards – and a magician’s trick honoring veterans

War can be hell…and war can be absolute boredom. There are few better ways to pass the time than by playing cards. Anyone who served in the military and made it past basic training probably ended up in a game of cards with their fellow troops.


6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Photo taken by an 82d Airborne paratrooper during WWII. (Portraits of War)

They’re easy to carry: small and lightweight, they fit into a rucksack, duffel bag, or Alice pack without having to sacrifice any piece of essential gear. Plus, they’re cheap. It just makes sense that the troops and playing cards would pair so well together.

The Bicycle Playing Card Company recounts the history of American troops and playing cards, though many other nations’ militaries also have a tradition of playing cards in their downtime. It just beats sitting around thinking about everything that could go wrong in a battle. As one Civil War soldier said, “Card playing seemed to be as popular a way of killing time as any.”

Wartime decks have been used to help soldiers in the field learn about their enemies and allies, to identify aircraft, and even teach a little about American history. Even in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, American forces used playing cards to identify the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
These cards are probably well-known by now.

Also Read: This is how POWs got playing cards with secret escape maps for Christmas

Playing cards themselves can be traced back to 12th century China. Some scholars think they made their way to Europe through Italian traders. The cards (and maybe even the games) predate the United States. But Americans have their own love affair with cards, and the military is no different.

Early special decks were released depicting Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, and (John Quincy) Adams as the kings of the deck. By the time of the Civil War, playing cards were in every American camp, Union or Confederate.

Since troops in the Civil War spent a lot of time in camp and had easy access to decks, alcohol, and firearms, a cheater could make the game go very badly for himself. The war actually shaped the way playing cards are printed, so players could hold a tighter hand.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

Another innovation of that era was the design on the backs of cards. Before then, most were made with plain backs, ones that were easy to mark and see through. The new back designs made short work of that problem.

In 1898, the Consolidated Playing Card Company created a cheap deck and poker chips for troops deploying to the Spanish-American War. For World War I, the U.S. Playing Card Company released special decks just for a few specialties of service in the Great War, namely Artillery, Navy, Air Corps, and Tank Corps. The German High Command in WWI considered the game so important to morale, they called the cards kartonnen wapens – cardboard weapons.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
German soldiers playing cards on the Western front in the summer of 1916. (Playing Card Museum)

Many playing card factories converted to war production during World War II, but that certainly didn’t mean no decks were printed. The aforementioned cards used to identify aircraft, known as “spotter cards,” were essential to the war effort.

During the Vietnam War, playing card companies sent deployed soldiers and Marines special decks comprised of just the ace of spades, believing the Viet Cong considered the symbol to be a deadly serious omen.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever

As late as 2007, American forces were given decks meant to inform them about important cultural and historical relics in the countries to which they deployed.

Watch below as magician Justin Flom recounts the oft-told story of a Revolutionary War soldier and his deck of cards, which acts as his bible, calendar, and almanac. Be sure to watch til the end for a magician’s tribute to American troops overseas.

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The top 6 reasons civilians back out of military service

Anyone who’s ever served in uniform has probably heard someone say the immortal line: “I would have joined the military, but…”


Lots of civilians make a trip to the recruiter with an eye toward military service, full of patriotic zeal and martial courage. But many pull out at the last minute and give their friends and family some song and dance about why they couldn’t commit.

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
…But the MRE bread is too good? A U.S. Marine recruit with Alpha Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, takes part in a Meal, Ready-to-Eat during the Crucible at Parris Island, South Carolina, Dec. 3, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)

 

No matter what excuse they give you for not signing on the dotted line, here are six real reasons recruiters tell us people decide not to join.

 

1. They’re physically disqualified

 

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
The Marine Corps Bulletin 1020, released June 2, 2016, explains the new Marine Corps tattoo policy.

 

A recruit who wants to join but is physically disqualified is disappointing for both the recruit and the recruiter. Applicants can be physically disqualified because of asthma, bad eyesight, scoliosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and other causes. Sometimes people disqualify themselves with tattoos, ear gauges or other kinds of body art.

2. Friends and family talk them out of it

Some occupations in the military are the most dangerous jobs in the world, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily lead to death. The type of job and location of a recruit’s duty station will determine the risk that military personnel encounter. Approximately 80 percent of career fields in the military are non-combat related.

Still, some potential recruits are convinced their service will kill them.

3. They don’t want to leave a significant other

Being in a relationship while going through the process of enlisting is challenging. Getting married or having a child as a single parent may affect the process of enlistment and eligibility to serve. Some refuse to leave their partner behind and instead give up on a potential military career for love.

4. They enlist and sign a contract but don’t get their dream job

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Everyone wants to be gangster, until there’s gangster poop to be burned. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kowshon Ye)

Open positions are based on the needs and manning of the particular service. In the Navy, (my expertise) most jobs do not have to be permanent. Changing jobs can be easy if there’s a new job open and you can meet the qualifications. The Army has a program where a service member can re-enlist and change his MOS. But for some people, not having the ideal job is non-negotiable, so they never enlist.

5. The recruiting experience went south

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Photo: US Air Force Senior Airman Micky M. Bazaldua

Recruiters have a duty and job to fill the needs of the military, but they are also responsible for building a connection with applicants. The relationship between a recruiter and a candidate is often seen as a reflection of what the service will be like, but that shouldn’t not be the only thing to consider. Still, a negative recruiting experience can discourage people from joining.

6. Some people just back out

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
That look tho. (photo by U.S. Army Recruiting)

The service is not for everyone and though the idea of joining seems attractive because of the honor, the uniform and the respect — it is a sacrifice. Some people may at some point feel they can make it but don’t. After weighing the pros and cons, people just change their mind.

Articles

This is why the Navy SEAL swim challenge is not for just anyone

Navy SEAL candidates go through some of the hardest military training in the world before earning their beloved Trident.


Before graduating BUD/s, they must successfully pass “drown-proofing” which is a series of swim challenges that must be completed without the use of their hands or feet — which are tied together.

This swim challenge is comprised of five difficult tests that not only pushes the mind but the body to its limits.

Can this Buzzfeed host use both his mental and physical strength to overcome and complete this challenge? Let’s find out.

Related: This SEAL was shot 27 times before walking himself to the medevac

Note: This challenge was done in an eight-foot deep pool versus the nine-foot one the Navy uses during the training.

Phase 1: Bobbing up and down 20 times for five minutes.

Success! (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

Phase 2: Float on your back for five minutes

The key here is not to panic. (Images via Giphy)Result: Fail

Phase 3: The Dolphin swim

Where endurance kicks in. (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

Phase 4: Front and back somersault

One of the test’s hardest challenges. (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

Phase 5: Retrieve a GoPro at the bottom of the pool

He made that look easy. (Images via Giphy)Result: Pass

4 out of 5 isn’t bad.

Also Read: 7 unrealistic Navy SEAL characters in the movies

Check out the Buzz Feed Blue’s below to watch this host attempt the whole Navy SEAL water challenge for yourself.

(YouTube, BuzzFeedBlue)Do you think this guy passed the Navy SEAL swim test? Comment below.
Articles

6 tips we learned from ‘Ferris Bueller’ on how to ‘skate’ in the military

Ferris Bueller is the ultimate skater.


Skating is an art form which most people will never fully learn — until now. In 1986, Paramount pictures released “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” which taught countless teens how to play sick and get out of school.

Written and directed by the legendary John Hughes, the film focuses on a teenager who embarks on an incredible journey throughout Chicago while being unknowingly stalked by his high school principal.

While taking the day off, Bueller and his two friends learn more about themselves in a day than they would ever expect.

Related: 8 tips for ‘skating’ in the military

So check out our list of how Bueller taught us the art of the skate.

1. Be convincing

First, come up with an epic excuse why you’re unable to partake in a military activity (like going to work), and make sure you sell that sh*t like Bueller sold being sick to his parents.

Getting a “Sick in Quarters” slip is the goal if you’re in the military.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
I hope I look sick enough. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

2. Use your assets properly

Unfortunately, Bueller doesn’t have a car to drive himself around. So once he officially earns his day off via his parents, it’s time to get on the phone and find someone to pick you up.

Skating should be a team effort, but make sure you repay the favor and help someone else skate on another day.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Come over to the barracks and pick me up. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

3. Know the loopholes

Here, Bueller hacks the school’s computer absence program and changes how many days he has been absent. You probably won’t have this ability unless you have a special security clearance, but the moral of this story is to understand your limits.

For instance, if your boss isn’t going to be around — you’re not going to be around. Get it? Good.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Knowing the loopholes will get you far in life. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

4. Have an epic backstory

During roll call, Bueller’s name is called out several times before this hot girl (Kristy Swanson) gives the teacher a bullsh*t reason why he isn’t in school. It works well during military roll call when the service member calling out names just wants to get on with the day and not hear any excuses — another loophole.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
How could you not trust this face? (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

5. Play the role

In the event you get an unknown phone call or run into someone outside your skating circle, divert into the sick mode ASAP.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Remember act sick. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

Also Read: 11 hiding spots for an E-4 to sham

6. Make it a team effort

Ferris uses his best buddy Cameron to impersonate his girlfriend’s dad to get her out of school. Now, you probably won’t have to do all that, but it’s awesome to have military friends who are willing to skate alongside you that you trust.

6 ways to have the best reenlistment ever
Our favorite hypochondriac, Cameron Frye. (Source: Paramount/Screenshot)

Military Life

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

Despite needing a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, a tablet to type, and a power chair to get around, life is good. Seriously.

First, you must be wondering: What kind of glass-half-full, sappy, optimist comes up with a list like this? Maybe it’s a guy that got hit by a Domino’s delivery driver and now has more money he can count? Or maybe he was Tony Robbins’ number two, so he was well equipped to handle the tragic life of being completely paralyzed?

Well, I’m not the heir to the Domino’s empire nor did I work as a motivational speaker. I am, however, an optimist. And I’ll be damned if I let my situation beat me. 

I am completely paralyzed with the exception of a few stubborn facial muscles that refuse to quit. My condition did not happen overnight. It was an extremely gradual process that has been happening since the summer of 2010.

The culprit behind its methodical degeneration is a neurological disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. You might remember hearing about it during the Ice Bucket Challenge, a global phenomenon that gave the disease its 15 minutes of fame. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that were raised in the summer of 2014 there is still no known cause or cure.

Fortunately for me, despite needing a ventilator to breathe, a feeding tube to eat, a tablet to type, and a power chair to get around, life is good. Seriously. I have a beautiful, kind, and smart wife. I’m also a father to the world’s next RBG, our three-year-old daughter Elliott Monroe. Perspective is everything, and I sure as hell won’t allow my situation to dictate my mood. So I wanted to write about some of the positive aspects of my life. Here goes.

  1. When it comes to skipping out of the chores around the house, it doesn’t get any easier than pulling the ALS card. I have not had to do the dishes once. Dirty diapers? No thanks! It turns out that you need fine motor skills to do both tasks.
  2. Need some help multitasking? I’m your man. Thanks to being completely paralyzed, I am able to write emails, while getting my fingernails clipped, and have lunch at the same time! Easy breezy baby, thanks to eye gaze technology, a caregiver, and a feeding tube.
  3. Is there anything worse than a gulp of fresh squeezed orange juice right after toothpaste? Or debating on having a cup of coffee after you just brushed your teeth? Not me, I don’t ever have to worry about such a conundrum. 
  4. I’m no Carrie Bradshaw, despite once finding a pair of Manolo Blahniks in the back of a cab in NYC. But my shoe game is strong. I do have a lot of custom-designed sneakers from Nike. The best part about having fresh kicks and being in a wheelchair is that my shoes are always on display. Not to mention that they never get dirty because they never touch the ground.
  5. Everyone poops. It’s not just a great book, it’s a fact of life. Now, I do require two different people to help me do my business, and I am quite regular. The two lucky individuals that get to join me have very defined duties. Pun intended. One person lifts me up in a bear hug motion while the second person pulls my pants down. But thanks to technology, that is really the only part of the experience that requires hands on help. I have a wonderful bidet that has more settings than a Sharper Image recliner. You haven’t lived until you felt the warmth of a heated toilet seat in the middle of winter.
  6. Lady Gaga is not the only one with a poker face. Thanks to ALS I can keep a straight face, no matter how high the stakes get. There is some minimal movement in my eyebrows and that is how I signal yes or no when I don’t have my tablet. This nuanced language is tough for people to fully understand. However, it gives me and my wife an incredibly intimate form of communication.
  7. I draw the line at smuggling narcotics across foreign borders, but other than that, if you got stuff to smuggle or “hold”?  I am your man. Nothing makes a security guard feel worse than having to pat down a completely paralyzed guy that talks with his eyes. I am also quite the Sherpa too. If we’re at the mall or Disney and I can hold bags. Throw them on the back and let’s roll.

This list was surprisingly easy to make. I am a truly positive person, but I am not an angel or some type of hippy-dippy sap that has his head in the clouds. I believe my life is hard but it is not any more difficult than yours. We all have battles and struggles. The choice to allow it to dictate your mood or how you see the world is exactly that, a choice. What do you choose?

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