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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While you’re deployed, weekends aren’t really a thing and neither are most holidays.
Thanksgiving, however, is one of the few moments throughout the year when the military slows down for the holidays.
It never comes to a stop. It is the military after all, and it’s been moving non-stop since 1775.
Many of the staff here at We Are The Mighty served. A good chunk of us also deployed. Regardless of the branch of service or duty, we can all relate on the little things that shaped the holidays away from home.
Oh man do the cooks go all out. All jokes about the quality of their food get tossed out when you smell that turkey for the first time. In 2015, the Defense Logistics Agency said they shipped out 34,760 pounds of turkey, 32,550 pounds of beef, 21,450 pounds of ham just for one holiday.
The higher-ups serve their subordinates
No matter what unit you’re a part of, or how well the command says they take care of its troops, or how well they actually take care of their troops, the command team should always put their own names on KP duty and do the serving for once.
It’s a sign of respect and has far more of a legacy than a president pardoning a turkey.
Fun and games
Usually in the form of mandatory fun time, troops spend the rest of the day trying to enjoy themselves. What that means is up to command.
Some times, it’s the platoon getting together for games or a movie in the MWR. Sometimes, its a football game. Almost always, its a long-ass run.
“Turkey Shoot” Range Day
But the one things troops get really excited for is a Thanksgiving “Turkey Shoot” range day.
No worries about re-qualifying. No worries about ammo consumption. Just a good ol’ day at the range, playing with all the toys in the unit’s arsenal, and lighting some targets up.
Nobody wants to hear the phrase, “suck it up, buttercup.” But there’s a reason for it outside of being plain rude. The fact is, there isn’t much to be gained by complaining about something uncomfortable to others that are stuck in the same suck.
Think about it this way: it’s like being stuck down in a well with a few others. What good does it do for anyone if you start whining about how you hate wells?
Everyone around you is dealing with the same problems. You can either work on improving what you can change, embrace the things you can’t, and joke about the suck with everyone else — or you could just get out. These are the comfort zones you’ll learn to abandon by joining the military.
Nobody wants to wake up early. Nobody. It’s impossible for any human being to willingly enjoy the idea of getting less sleep because they feel the need to get some physical exercise. If that does describe you, I seriously doubt that you’re a human being, but rather some sort of autonomous robot.
We do it because we must.
The human body
Before you know it, you’ll end up in communal showers. There, you’ll see plenty and plenty will see you.
And we’re not talking about exposed genitalia — you’ll get over that real quick. You’ll see sores, fluids, and all sorts of nastiness that some happens to the human body during a deployment. If you’re a medic or Corpsman, expect your friends to randomly ask, “hey, doc, does this look infected to you?”
It’s not just knee and back pain, or “weakness leaving your body” as the PT instructor calls it. That’s guaranteed. Expect an amount of unnecessary physical pain. If your battle buddy is an idiot, expect to get smoked with them. If they have a loud mouth at the bar, expect to get punched in the face at least once throughout your career.
Just get used to waking up in the morning and wondering what happened to your 18-year-old body. Be prepared to ask yourself why you’re complaining about the same pains as your grandmother.
Lack of personal space
If you maintain a personal space bubble and feel awkward when someone comes within a foot of you, curb it. You probably shouldn’t be claustrophobic either.
You won’t have any room to do anything or anywhere to be by yourself.
Sharing personal details
Don’t feel like spending 12 hours at a time with the options of staring at a blank wall or talking with some random person? Too bad. You’re about to turn into Forrest Gump and tell them everything.
Learning you’re not special
Individualism is a blight on the uniformed services. It’s “one team, one fight,” not “everyone plus this guy.” This rule applies to everyone — and not just the person crying because Sergeant gave them a dirty look. Even the troop that is damn-near Captain America is guilty if they start demanding the military start handing out opportunities.
The military doesn’t owe anyone anything unless it’s earned. And even earning something doesn’t mean the door is now open for making more demands.
There’re no two groups of Americans that get along quite as well as the military and the first-responder community. It makes sense on a broad level; they’re both occupations filled by people who hope to help their fellow man and make the world a slightly better place.
But it goes much deeper than that — it’s not just a shared, we-got-10-percent-off-our-meal-at-a-restaurant connection.
Civilians just don’t understand the actual amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that happens in both. That fact alone is why so many police officers love ‘Hot Fuzz.’
(Photo by Sgt. Elizabeth Taylor)
They share the same culture
Part of what makes the armed forces fun is the inter-service banter exchanged between branches. Funnily enough, first responders playfully mock one another as well.
EMS will throw some jabs in jest at firefighters and firefighters will tell jokes at the police’s expense. Hell, even within the different bureaus, police will riff on each other. Law enforcement officers and firefighters, just like Marines and airmen, will happily mock one another all day long, but treat each other as family when push comes to shove.
This is just one of the many areas in which the two cultures overlap.
They also come up with the same off-the-wall insults that troops love.
(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Pedro A. Rodriguez)
They share the same lingo
Troops say a lot of little things that they don’t realize are uncommon in the civilian world, but the lingo is easily understood by first responders.
The phonetic alphabet is an obvious one, but it makes my veteran heart grow knowing that police also call each other blue falcons.
The hardest times for both are often the memorial services.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Fowler)
They share the same bad days
The sad reality is that the bad days both groups experience can be hard to explain to civilians.
There are fantastic moments that you can be proud to share with your children and your spouse, but helping the world will also show you things that’ll keep you up at night — you can’t know this feeling without experiencing it.
Have you ever been to a fire station? It’s basically a frat house in between calls.
(Photo by Jamal Wilson)
They share a strong bond of brotherhood with their peers
It’s no secret that troops are close to one another — and first responders are no different.
They grow together through shared pain, mockery, and brief moments of brevity until the sh*t hits the fan again. This level of camaraderie is respected across both groups.
Or you enlist for a change of pace but end up doing the same thing in a different uniform.
(Photo by Airman 1st Class Octavius Thompson)
Many have served in both
The main reason why so many of each community can relate with one another is because many troops leave the service and make a living as a first responder, and vice versa.
During a moment of peace in Basic or Boot Camp, it’s not uncommon to hear a new troop say that they were a volunteer firefighter for a few semesters in college.
The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they’re always capturing what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:
U.S. Air Force Col. David Mineau, the 354th Fighter Wing commander, sits in the cockpit of an F-35A Lightning II while Norwegian Major “Taz” Amdal, Project Test Pilot for F-35 Drag Chute Program, tells him about controls Oct. 12, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The F-35A is here to conduct cold weather testing to ensure the fifth generation multi-role fighter aircraft runs at peak performance for its scheduled 2020 arrival.
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Alexander Sinclair, a member of the 101st Air Refueling Wing (101 ARW) Communications Flight, installs phone connections at the 101 ARW, Bangor, ME, Oct 10, 2017. Cyber Transport Systems Specialists deploy, sustain, troubleshoot, and repair standard voice, data and video network infrastructure systems, IP detection systems, and cryptographic equipment.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Randall Ledoux of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) 173rd Airborne Brigade transmits his position while conducting defensive operations during exercise Swift Response 17 at the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 12, 2017. Swift Response 17, Phase II is an annual, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise focused on allied airborne forces’ ability to quickly and effectively respond to crisis situations as an interoperable multi-national team. The exercise takes place at the JMRC in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 2-20, 2017 and includes approximately 7,000 participants from 10 NATO nations.
Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, return greetings to the residents in the sector of Las Palmas in San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 12, 2017. The Soldiers distributed water and Meals, Ready-To-Eat, to the residents. The full force of the federal government continues to make progress towards recovery, working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico officials, municipalities, businesses, and voluntary agencies on the islands.
Happy Birthday, Navy!
Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Thomas Rodriguez, from Los Angeles, prepares for flight quarters aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), Oct. 12, 2017. James E. Williams, homeported in Norfolk, is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Gold) pulls into the pier of Republic of Korea’s Busan Naval Base as part of a routine port visit. The visit is to strengthen the already strong relationship between the U.S. Navy and the people of the Republic of Korea.
U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), disembark the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) via MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft also with VMM 162 (REIN), in the Caribbean Sea, Oct. 12, 2017. The 26th MEU is supporting Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.
Cpl. Caleb Bastille, a crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267, assists in landing a UH-1Y Huey during a simulated tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel (TRAP) mission at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., Oct. 11. TRAP missions allow pilots and crew chiefs to directly integrate with ground troops, simulating potential scenarios that could take place when forward deployed.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bear, a 270 foot, medium endurance cutter, arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to deliver supplies, Oct. 9, 2017. The supplies included donations collected by Customs and Border Patrol members.
A Coast Guard Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew assists in mooring the 34-foot fishing vessel Nata Ella in Refuge Cove, Ketchikan, Alaska Oct. 7, 2017. The Nata Ella crew reported they were taking on water on the southwest side of Bold Island, and the Station Ketchikan RB-M crew provided a dewatering pump and towed the fishing vessel to Ketchikan.
We’ve all seen them before. The cans, small shots, and uniquely packaged energy drinks that promise to give you an energy boost during the most important parts of your day. At first glance, it seems like a great idea: chug it down and get reinvigorated for the day. But, if you go beyond wanting to simply stay alert and begin to overindulge, you could wind up doing some serious harm to your body.
Energy drinks became the beverage of choice for many service members during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research analyzed data collected during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010 and found nearly 45 percent of deployed service members consumed at least one energy drink daily. Nearly 14 percent reported drinking three or more per day.
Many of the most popular energy drinks are heavily marketed to young people, including military members. The marketing is sexy, the packaging is slick, the flavors are sweet like fruit drinks children crave, and the beverages are readily available on military bases and down range.
But, there are real reasons to avoid overusing energy drinks.
Energy drinks can cause drastic side effects
Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and too much of it isn’t good for you. Dr. Patricia Deuster, professor and director of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, warns service members to avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine every four hours. That means service members should add up the caffeine in their energy drinks, plus any other caffeinated beverages they may drink, like coffee and soft drinks.
“If it’s got more than 200 mg of caffeine, don’t use it,” cautions Deuster.
Deuster also warns female service members to be cautious about using energy drinks, noting the amount of caffeine you ingest relative to body weight is an issue for women. “Women get a higher concentration [of caffeine] since they tend to be smaller,” she said.
“Doctors don’t know what the effects of [energy drink] ingredients are in larger doses,” Deuster noted. “I don’t think anybody has an answer to the long term effects question.”
High amounts of caffeine can lead to increased blood pressure, panic attacks, heart palpitations, anxiety, dehydration, insomnia, and even bowel irritability when energy drinks are mixed with alcohol.
What is clear is consumers need to be more aware about what they’re putting in their bodies when it comes to energy drinks.
Energy drinks can activate your sweet tooth
Energy drinks are loaded with sugar. Some cans pack a punch of 27 grams of sugar — two thirds of the recommended daily maximum for men, and 2 grams more than the maximum doctors recommend for women. Some service members can double or even triple that if they drink more than one energy drink per day.
All of that extra sugar can cause your blood sugar to increase. Even the sugar-free versions of energy drinks can lead to weight gain, as research suggests artificial sweeteners may raise blood sugar, too.
Your body can also begin storing fat, especially if you’re unable to increase physical activity.
Energy drinks + alcohol = a dangerous cocktail
Energy drinks have become popular mixers for alcohol, raising concerns for health experts.
“A lot of the young people mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages, then you’ve got a wide awake drunk,” says Deuster.
The CDC warns that when alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, the caffeine stimulant can mask the effects of the alcohol, which is a depressant. Often, the person drinking doesn’t even realize that they’re actually drunk. According to the CDC, that means people who mix alcohol with energy drinks are three times more likely to binge drink than those who don’t mix alcohol with energy drinks. Experts warn motor skills can be affected and some people engage in riskier behaviors while under the influence of alcohol and energy drinks. Additionally, both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which can cause dehydration if you’re not careful.
Some companies sell pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks which have the same sweet or tart flavors as standard energy drinks. As the Army notes, the alcohol content in these beverages can be significantly higher than what’s found in beer.
These energy drinks with alcohol may appeal to underage drinkers because they’re cheaper than hard liquor and they’re marketed with a message that the drinker can last all day or all night long. The sugary nature of the beverages also makes drinkers feel they can imbibe longer than if they were having harder alcohol.
Energy drinks can ruin your good night’s sleep
Deuster raises concerns about a problem in the military with energy drinks and sleep. And, the data back up those concerns. While service members may initially use energy drinks to make up for a lack of sleep, overuse can lead to a harmful cycle. Excess consumption of energy drinks can cause sleep problems and hamper performance.
Dr. Nancy J. Wesensten, from the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neurosciences Research, tells Army Medicine that research on caffeine shows that it can be effective if used properly. However, Wesensten notes “because caffeine impairs sleep, individuals should stop all caffeine consumption at least 6 hours prior to scheduled sleep. Otherwise, sleep could be impaired without the person even being aware of it.”
As caffeine is the major ingredient in energy drinks, the CDC reports service members who drink three or more of the drinks per day were significantly more likely to report sleeping fewer than four hours per night. They were also more likely to report disrupted sleep and other illnesses. Lack of sleep can impact memory and a service member’s ability to pay attention when it matters most. Research indicates service members who drank three or more energy drinks each day also had difficulty staying awake during briefings or on guard duty.
The Army’s Performance Triad offer tips on how to get a better night’s sleep, including controlling light and temperature, as well as leaders ensuring service members have time for quality sleep.
You really don’t know what’s in them
These drinks are not regulated as dietary supplements. While the cans have nutrition labels, many do not list supplement information.
One area that’s concerning to Deuster is the ingredient taurine. The chemical compound is an amino acid found in animal tissue. Many manufacturers purport the ingredient will enhance mental and physical performance. Researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center report little is actually is known about taurine’s neuroendocrine effects.
So, what should service members use instead of energy drinks?
Deuster keeps it simple: “Good old water.” Appealing to service members’ frugality, she adds,
Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DOD website.
When recruits first arrive at boot camp, they run an initial Physical Fitness Test (PFT) to determine the capabilities of each prospect. The Marine PFT consists of pull-ups, crunches, and a timed, three-mile run. They will repeat this test a few times over the course of their stay in boot camp and results are carefully monitored by drill instructors, who track individual improvements.
If a recruit fails the test, they’ll fall behind in training, prolonging the time spent at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot — a place where no young man or woman wants to spend any extra time.
The initial test is taken within a week or so of arriving. While there, recruits will likely see a few of the following archetypes in action.
Recruits of India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, push forward during the three-mile run portion of their Physical Fitness Test aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.
(Photo by Marine Sgt. Benjamin E. Woodle)
The marathon runner
Some recruits barely meet the physical requirements of the screening process at MEPS — others show up to boot camp in tip-top shape. Once the drill instructor gives the platoon the signal to start the three-mile run, you’ll quickly notice the endurance runners pull ahead of the pack.
The overrated bodybuilder
This guy or gal sports layers upon layers of muscle. They look tough and can probably lift a truck and a half, but this mass becomes a problem when it’s time to complete the timed run. This recruit probably maxed out on the pull-ups and sit-ups without problem, but they’ll be breathing heavily after about a mile’s jog.
On the flip side, these recruits are great when it comes time to lift the log.
We meant it when we said some recruits show up to boot camp after just barely satisfying the requirements of a MEPS physical exam. This recruit isn’t remotely prepared for the physical demands of the Marine Corps — they’ve got a long way to go. This type of recruit makes the mediocre boots look pretty sh*t-hot.
But, as the saying goes, “you don’t have to finish first, just don’t finish last.”
The skinny kid with upper body strength
You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to do well at the PFT. In fact, being skinny can actually help you crank out numbers on the pull-up bar and smoke everyone else during the timed run. Conversely, however, it’s a good idea to get those legs stronger in preparation for all those fun hikes you’ll go on — especially if you’re headed to San Diego for basic training.
Drill instructors with Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, encourage recruits to push their limits as they finish the final part of the initial physical fitness test aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
(Photo by Marine Lance Cpl. Bridget M. Keane)
The sh*tty counter
It may be frowned upon by the Corps, but if you’re lucky, your platoon mate will count by twos during your PFT. We know, it doesn’t sound so ethical, but it happens all the time. Conversely, some recruits live life by the books and make their platoon mates actually do every single sit-up on their way to reaching the goal of 100.
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.
Words matter. And sometimes well-meaning words can sting. It’s been almost 2 decades since I said, “I do” and entered the military family — and its rather unique lifestyle.
Here is my list of the 4 biggest offenders in the “things never to say to a military spouse” category.
4. “You knew what you were getting into.”
Actually, most of us did not. I would go as far as to say that even a military brat who grew up surrounded by the culture didn’t know exactly what it feels like to send their spouse off to war. We didn’t know what it would be like to move our own children across the country multiple times or to sacrifice our career goals for another person’s military service. It’s kind of like having your own kid — you can read all the books and take all the classes, but nothing truly prepares you for the moment when you’re the one rocking a sick child to sleep in the middle of the night.
This is mostly a veiled attempt to say, “stop complaining, you signed up for this.” I get it. No one likes a complainer. But venting is healthy and we all need to get things off our chest from time to time.
3. “Suck it up, Buttercup.”
Embracing the suck is sometimes a necessity. But frankly, a military spouse doesn’t need a reminder of how to do this. Just because he/she puts up a tough front doesn’t mean they aren’t scared, upset, worried, or a combination of all three at times. It’s normal to miss home. It’s normal to be scared about a deployment. It’s normal to be overwhelmed with everything.
If your milspouse friend is becoming isolated or seems to be negative constantly, it’s perfectly fine to reach out and offer resources or just show up and take them to get coffee. Wanting to help is wonderful, but telling someone going through something very real and challenging to “suck it up” is rarely helpful. Tough love in this situation is mostly just lacking in the “love” department.
Yes. Yes, you could. I didn’t marry my husband because I wanted to be a military spouse, I married him because I love him. I haven’t stayed with him for 19 years because I adore the retirement check, I stay because I love him. I didn’t have two children with him because I think the term “military brat” is cool, we had kids because we love one another and wanted to grow our family.
Military families love each other, just like any other family does. And when we love someone, we do things for that person. Do you love your spouse? Then, yes. You could do it, too.
1. “Thank you for YOUR service.”
I don’t know why this one bothers me so much — maybe it’s just me. I know where the sentiment is coming from and, on some level, I appreciate people who recognize that spouses and children also face challenges due to military service. Regardless, the word “service” always makes me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t step on those yellow footprints. I have not deployed. I haven’t sacrificed my own health for this country. I did not agree to die in defense of it.
So, for me, the word ‘service,’ while well-meaning, seems off. When a kind stranger says this to me, I thank them and gently say, “thank you so much. It’s been my pleasure to support my husband in his service.”
Recently, the military healthcare system Tricare posted a photo on its Facebook page that had its fans in a frenzy.
People got pissed; they complained; they shared the post with harsh words; some even used “caps lock” in their comments. It was terrible.
What was so offensive about the post, you ask? If you hadn’t already seen it, it was a wedding photo with the comment “You had me at #TRICARE.” See below.
As someone who works online almost exclusively, I had to laugh at the post. In fact, I laughed a lot. I could understand why some people were upset (hello, pushing a negative stereotype on female military spouses), but mostly I couldn’t understand how the marketing department at Tricare saw the post and said “Oh hey, THIS post is an EXCELLENT idea!”
My first reaction when I saw it, honestly, was “I wonder how long whomever approved this post will have a job?” I post all kinds of crazy things on my own personal Facebook page, but I’ve been called into more than one come-to-Jesus meeting with a boss over a poorly planned social media post.
When that’s your job, you have to be aware of your audience.
And who is the audience for most of Tricare’s social media pages? Probably spouses who want to keep up with changes in Tricare benefits. So it’s no small wonder that a whole bunch of them were butthurt.
So I did what any responsible journalist in my position would do: I shared the flub on my personal Facebook page and asked for hilarious feedback. My friends did not disappoint.
The idea? If we were to marry someone for his benefits, couldn’t we have chosen someone with better perks?
The military benefits are great, don’t get me wrong. But what about if you married:
1. A mob boss
All the Italian food your heart desires and the destruction of your mortal enemies. (this is obviously my first choice)
2. Prince Harry
Crowns and gowns, you’d never have to work! (wait. maybe this is my first choice)
3. United State Senator or Representative
The best health care your tax dollars can buy. Plus no one’s allowed to hurt your feelings. (gag me now)
4. A doctor
All you can eat hospital food! (food? queue the fat dependa jokes, because I AM IN)
5. A dog breeder
Picks of the litter! (meh, I’m not really a puppy person. Don’t shoot me, I prefer a full-grown rescue)
6. Donald Trump
If you ever go bald or are in desperate need of a tanning bed, you’re already in the right place! (If you can stomach this, its an option for those of you under 25!)
7. Any president
Free food, vacations all over the world; top private schools for kids; secret service body guards; couple cabins in the woods; free airfare!! (Woah woah woah…. someone sign my husband up!)
8. A Masseuse
Happy massages for days. (Okay I’m really torn between this one and Prince Harry. Can we choose two?)
9. Bill Gates
When one door closes the windows are always open!! (I’m a Mac girl, so…)
10. A handyman
All the crap around the house might actually get done! (Except my daddy raised me to be able to DO all the crap around the house, so this isn’t an issue here.)
11. Cesar Milan (the dog whisperer)
Maybe he can make the kids behave! (Wait, I have to choose between behaving kids and Prince Harry? Adulting is hard.)
12. A plastic surgeon
Think this speaks for itself. (Meh, not really my cup of tea)
13. A Starbucks barista
I think this also speaks for itself. (Okay, so do you think Harry could make coffee AND be a mob boss AND be a masseuse? Someone with connections find this out for me?)
14. An airline Pilot
Get to travel for free or for little out-of-pocket when there are seats available. (I’m married to a pilot. I see how he drives, I DO NOT want to fly with him.)
15. A personal trainer and chef
Never have to cook again and always fit into your skinny jeans! (I already fit into my skinny jeans. I just buy them bigger now.)
16. A hotel manager
Free room and board with complimentary continental breakfast! (I do enjoy food…)
17. A mechanic
(Free oil changes?)
18. Matt Damon
He’s my fantasy celebrity boyfriend and I’m waiting for his proposal. (Obviously this wasn’t my suggestion. If it’s not obvious, I super like Prince Harry. Just saying.)
19. A farmer
Cheap help from laborers, tractors and back hoes to dig as many holes as I need to bury the bodies. Then, when the old man ain’t worth it anymore I just take him out to pasture on the back 40! (So maybe not husband material, but maybe as a side piece while I’m married to the mob boss? Questions need to be asked here.)
20. A coffee importer
I would always have the best coffee. Ooh or someone who owns a bookstore too! Unlimited coffee and books for life it can’t get any better than that. (Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if Prince Harry has a library? Asking for a friend.)
21. The owner of a winery
(Also need to find out how Harry feels about wine)
22. A civilian so you never have to sleep alone
…Or worry. (I know, too serious)
23. A Costco employee
I used to work at Aetna. Let me tell you — those folks get great insurance. Or they used to. Free glasses once a year for all members of the family. (It IS time for me to get new glasses.)
24. The heir to a million dollar business with really nice in laws
No wait.. better! Heir to an awesome chocolate company. (Note to self, find out how Prince Harry feels about wine and chocolate and masseuse school and libraries and…)
I just realized that Prince Harry is in the military as well, so maybe I just really appreciate a man in uniform and the benefits aren’t really even the icing on the cake.
General Vincent Brooks has a tough job. As the commander of all American forces in Korea, he is responsible for the lives of some 20,000 U.S. troops. That’s big. But if North Korea attacks South Korea, the four-star general suddenly becomes the leader of up to 4 million joint U.S.-South Korean regulars and reservists.
Since 1981, the general staff on the Korean Peninsula has been organized as a combined staff, led by an American four-star general with a South Korean deputy commander of equal rank. If attacked by North Korea, this Combined Forces Command will command the joint air, sea, and ground defenses of the South.
The national duality of shared command exists throughout the CFC command structure. Anywhere an American officer is in command, the deputy is from the Republic of Korea. Anywhere an ROK officer is in command, the deputy is an American.
This structure exists from the tactical level all the way up to the overall commander.
This is not true for other nations who share a mutual defense treaty with the United States. In Japan, for example, the U.S. will still come aid in defending the nation, but the Japanese would retain their overall command structure.
When the Republic of Korea and American military do their annual, 200,000-man strong joint exercises (you know, the ones that piss off the North Koreans as they quake in their boots), the Combined Forces Command oversees that exercise.
For General Vincent Brooks, those exercises must be a necessary deterrent from North Korean aggression, even as the war of words exchanged between the Kim Regime and the Trump White House escalate.
Pictures of off-duty soldiers capture the everyday, mundane moments of what life is really like on the front lines. Much of a soldier’s time in the field doesn’t involve combat or danger, but rather, ordinary tasks, down time, and simple boredom. No matter where the war is or what it’s about, troops in the field often have a lot of time on their hands, not much to do, and a lot of alcohol around. This leads to some great candid moments, and when cameras are around, great pictures.
Soldiers going on leave would often take photos to remember the good times they had, or to memorialize their comrades. There were also performances, bands, and card games to wile away the time, and this is true on all sides of every war. There are as many pictures of German soldiers smiling and goofing off as there are British and American. These photos humanize wars and the people who fought them.
Here are some of the best pictures of soldiers off-duty, taken all over the world.Vote up the best vintage photos of off-duty soldiers below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
In March 1999, NATO announced that coalition forces would begin a massive air war and bombing campaign against Serbia. Within hours after the first round of strikes, an A-10 squadron received an urgent call that one of America’s stealthiest aircraft had been shot down — the F-117 Nighthawk.
It was reported the stealth pilot managed to bail out in time but was trapped deep behind enemy lines.
As rebel forces assembled to hunt down the American pilot, allied forces gathered and quickly began designing a search and rescue mission to locate their missing brother.
“One of the things I have to do as the on-scene commander is figure out if he’s ready to be picked up,” Air Force pilot John Cherrey explains.
Since landing an A-10 in enemy territory was impractical, using Black Hawks to pick up the missing pilot was the only option. But with Serbian missiles on high alert, there was no way helicopters could outrun enemy defenses.
The rescue mission must be handled with extreme caution or risk losing more men, so developing a clever plan was in order.
The Warthog’s commanders decided to create a diversion that would prompt Serbian anti-air missile radar to look in one direction, while the slower Black Hawks swooped in through the enemies’ back door.
Their plan worked as the two Black Hawks managed to sneak their way to the downed pilot and egresses out of the Serbian air space. Once the A-10s were notified the pilot was safe, they bugged out and went home. No additional casualties were reported.
Check out the Smithsonian Channel‘s video to see how Allied forces went on this daring rescue mission for yourself.