If there’s one thing military personnel are taught from their time in service it’s to improvise, adapt and overcome.
This mentality keeps our troops flexible and inventive in the absence of modern comforts. But for all their ingenuity, the following five military hacks have no place outside of the military:
1. The “everything” sandwich.
Troops are fast eaters — it’s a habit formed out of necessity. Whether it’s being allotted a few minutes in boot camp to process divisions through the chow hall or out in the fleet with a few minutes between a hectic schedule, troops eat with urgency. Some troops save time by putting everything on their plate between two pieces of bread to make an everything sandwich. Hey, it’s all going to the same place anyways.
2. Cooking with C4.
During the Vietnam war, troops would use C4 explosives to heat their C-rations. In fact C4 is almost harmless without the detonator; you can shoot it, cut it, and light it on fire without it exploding as demonstrated by the guys on Mythbusters. Although warm meals are nice, they still ate their food cold after sunset to avoid being spotted.
3. Filling a mop bucket with a dust pan.
Deck sailors do a lot of swabbing (mopping) but have few options to fill up their water buckets. In most cases they use a shower head, but in situations where there aren’t any around – such as on decks without living quarters – they improvise by using a dustpan to direct water into a bucket.
4. Going commando
Going without underwear is erotic and sexually stimulating to some people, while it’s considered immodest and socially unacceptable to others. Grunts, on the other hand, go without underwear for practical reasons; to increase ventilation and reduce moisture in the crotch area. They also go through long periods of time without being able to do their laundry.
5. Using condoms to protect equipment.
While condoms were invented to prevent pregnancies and STDs, service members also use them to protect equipment. Grunts us condoms to prevent rifle barrels from clogging and flight deck sailors use them to make their radio microphones waterproof.
Marines Security Forces provide guard services for nearly 125 embassies throughout the world. They consistently monitor their assigned grounds and are well-trained to react to any emergency situation that may arise.
The Marines must have a top-secret security clearance, no visible tattoos in uniform, and are required to have a clean disciplinary service record.
White House duty can come with an amount of danger, and the Marines need to constantly be at their best — especially the selected few who guard the West Wing at the White House.
For those Marines interested in guarding the POTUS, check what it takes to stand watch at the most famous doors in the world.
1. Your schedule can be insane
If the POTUS is working long office hours, they’ll be guarding the entryway the entire time. Typically, the Marines rotate guard shifts every 30-minutes and remain on post until he’s concluded his work day.
Whenever the president flies in-or-out on “Marine One,” a Marine will be at the bottom of the steps to greet him.
2. You’re constantly being watched
The White House is consistently being filmed and/or photographed by various people. Marines are required to stand as still as possible, maintaining their discipline while in the public eye. There’s no laughing, smiling, or talking while manning the distinguish post.
“If you have an itch on the nose just suck it up,” Sgt. J.D. Hodges humorously explains.
3. Passing out isn’t an option
Marines are known for their solid statue, but they need to keep the blood flowing by wiggling their toes surreptitiously — and they make sure not to lock out their knees.
Passing out isn’t an option.
4. Only break your bearing in a real emergency
Discipline is hugely important when it comes to guarding our nation’s leader. The Marine should only react to specific situations and not overreact to minimal ones.
Reportedly, thousands of Marines apply to be White House sentries, but only four stand guard at one time. This working detail is considered an honor as the sentries represent themselves, their country, and their president.
In the military, life is unpredictable. There’s no telling what’s in store service members during a given week. Thankfully, there are photographers among the ranks who have perfected the art of capturing the daily life of troops, both in training and at war.
These are the best military photos from this week:
Lt. Col. Alexander Heyman, Commander, 71st Student Squadron, and 2nd Lt. Mitchel Bie, Vance student pilot, walk out to a T-6A Texan II, March 8, 2018, Vance Air Force Base, Okla. The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer designed to train student pilots in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force pilots.
A U.S. Air Force pararescueman jump master, assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, stands to conduct a drop zone survey before a high altitude, high opening military free fall jump working with a C-130J Super Hercules flown by the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 4, 2018. Guardian Angel Team members conduct training on all aspects of combat, medical procedures and search and rescue tactics to hone their skills, providing the highest level of tactical capabilities to combatant commanders.
Artillerymen with Battery B, Field Artillery Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, transport and prepare artillery rounds as they await the arrival of their M777 howitzers by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crew from Company B, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, inside of the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, Mar. 8, 2018. Soldiers of both units came together to train and strengthen relationships during an artillery raid training exercise as part of Dynamic Front 18, an annual U.S. Army Europe exercise focused on enhancing interoperability of U.S. Army, joint service and allied nation artillery and fire support in a multinational environment.
U.S. Army paratroops, assigned to the 16th Sustainment Brigade, are preparing for convoy live fire route as part of the Vanguard 360 at Pocek Range in Slovenia, Mar. 06, 2018. Exercise Vanguard Proof is a combined exercise between the 16th Sustainment Brigade and the Slovene Armed Forces focused on enhancing interoperability NATO operational standards and developing individual technical skills.
The amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) transits Manila Bay following a scheduled port visit. Bonhomme Richard is operating in the Indo-Pacific region as part of a regularly scheduled patrol and provides a rapid-response capability in the event of a regional contingency or natural disaster.
An Ice Camp Skate resident sets up communication equipment for Ice Camp Skate during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2018. ICEX 2018 is a five-week exercise that allows the Navy to assess its operational readiness in the Arctic, increase experience in the region, advance understanding of the Arctic environment, and continue to develop relationships with other services, allies, and partner organizations.
Marines from Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., prepare to compete in the First Annual International Mountain Warfare Training Patrol Competition at the Chiemgau Arena in Ruhpolding, Germany. The competition is a challenging international competition that focuses on the mountain infantry’s capabilities.
U.S. Marines Corps with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, provide suppressive during a live-fire platoon attack at Range G-29 on Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 7, 2018. 2nd Marine Division provided funding and material for the creation of Range G-29 and tasked Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion to finalize the production of the range.
Coast Guard Sector Boston Response Petty Officers look for damage to shoreside infrastructure March 5 in Swampscott, Massachusetts. A powerful nor’easter hit the area over the weekend causing damage along the shore.
Lt. Joe Brewan, the supply officer and the helicopter control tower operator aboard the U.S.S. Kidd, watches a Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, from Air Station Port Angeles land on the flight deck of the ship, which was transiting the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in order to conduct a medevac of a sick Navy sailor, March 4, 2018. The 23-year-old Navy sailor was transported to Navy Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington in stable condition.
After five long contracted years of service, you learned a thing or two about yourself. Here are a few things that may have made your list.
1. Mental strength
Most people rarely tap into their full potential and allow their minds to convince their bodies that they can’t succeed. The truth is when sh*t hits the fan and bullets are flying, you’ll quickly learn if you have what it takes to break free from your mental limitations.
Mind over matter. (Images via Giphy)
2. Gut check
Many sailors who graduate Corps school are highly motivated to put their newly learned knowledge to use and pursue a medical career after the military. Fast forward to the middle of a combat deployment, and many wonder if practicing medicine was the right choice for them. Many young minds grow fatigued and change career paths after taking care of several of their dying brothers.
It’s not for everyone.
You get the point. (Image via Giphy)
3. You matured quickly
The vast majority of the lower enlisted are barely old enough to drink when they shipped out to the front lines. Witnessing the dramatic action that takes place on deployment can make the most immature 20-year-old feel weathered, and it changes the way they see the world.
Heading off to war will make you grow up real fast. (Images via Giphy)
We’d all like to think we’re the bravest and strongest of the bunch, but being tough isn’t about how much you can bench. Instead, being tough is simply about not ever giving up or tossing in the towel.
If Mary-Kate and Ashley can be tough, then so can you. (Images via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The day my husband swore in to the US Marine Corps, his veteran grandfather gave me a book that had belonged to his late wife: “The Marine Corps Wife,” published in 1955.
This marked the first of many sources I came across in my quest to figure out Military Spouse 101; as a new, eager (and, frankly, naive) military wife, I was desperate to *prepare* myself for the life that lay ahead of me.
I was met with (what I believed to be) a veritable charcuterie of articles and forums — but as the years went by, I noticed that there was something missing. The spread was inadequate, repetitive, and at times, toe-curlingly tacky; a little more big box store than French boutique, if you will.
There’s a slew of contemporary literature out there for the prospective military bride, but among the twee messages about “stages of deployment” and care packages and (yawn) PCS season, there are myriad mil-nuances that your average milspouse blogger will omit.
The truth is, there’s a delicate disconnect between the star-spangled blogs and real-life immersion in military culture; the too long/didn’t read version is, quite simply, that military life is not real life.
No one — no musty tome or cheery modern blogger —quite prepared me for this.
Granted, I’ve drunk my fair share of military Kool-Aid (and — yikes — tap water) in the relatively short time my husband and I have been married, but I’m here to tell you about the subtext, the small-print: some of the things you don’t hear about military life.
1. It’s not glamorous.
Imagine: Laundry that smells worse than Lake Bandini, dowsing your true love’s blistered feet in hydrogen peroxide, and the smell of MRE farts. And I can’t speak for everyone, but when I think of deployments, I think of cheap wine, popcorn for dinner, and record-breaking Netflix marathons (shout-out to me for slaying six seasons of “Lost” in a month).
Even the movie-montage-worthy highlights are largely unspectacular. I’ll take all the flack that comes my way for admitting this, but farewell ceremonies before deployments are, honestly, rather tedious; imagine a lot of standing around for several irksome hours while bags are loaded and fed-up children cry.
Homecomings happen at relatively short notice, rarely do things go according to plan, and there’s always those awkward hours of families standing around with bedazzled signs, twiddling their thumbs. There’s the heartbreaking sight of junior enlisted troops trudging off to the barracks without anyone to greet them, the readjustment phase that no clipart-laden pamphlet can prepare you for, and work begins as usual within an obscenely short window of time.
It’s worth it — it’s always worth it — but trust me, nothing about military life is glamorous.
2. Your spouse’s job affects your social life.
Ah, the mother of all military spouse debates: does your husband’s rank determine your social life?!
Unpopular opinion: yes. Yes, it does. A military spouse’s life is at least somewhat affected by their significant other’s job. And yes, it’s as asinine and frustrating as it sounds.
By this, I do not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that there are ranks among spouses —even my quaint 1950’s wife manual states as much, for goodness’ sake — and the (perceived) dichotomy between officers’ spouses and enlisted spouses only exists if one allows it to.
Lore of spouse’s “wearing” rank is, more often that not, just that: social myth. That’s not to say that wives who refer to “our” promotion or bluster when they aren’t saluted don’t exist, but these rare prima donnas are best left to stew in their own little worlds.
We military spouses do, however, have to accept that our significant other’s job will have some degree of influence over our social life. Fraternization rules dictate who service-members can and cannot be friends with, and therefore, socializing as a couple can get a little thorny. We learn to accept that it’s at least expected that we’ll make an effort with the spouses of our husband’s chain of command (I consider myself to be enormously blessed in that I ended up making some seriously fabulous friends this way).
We also become accustomed to pasting on a smile and being ultra-nice to the people our partner tells us to be pleasant to, even when we’re cranky and would rather not be a circus monkey, thank you very much.
3. It’s seriously old-fashioned.
Sorry, not sorry, y’all: military life is pretty archaic. The question of how to solve this is a much bigger one than I can give credence to, so, for now, I’ll stick with a few illuminating personal examples.
Recently, I took a vacation by myself because my husband had to work through the weekend. This simple endeavor was met with pure shock in dozens of my peers: to think, a married woman might travel to a new place on her own. Pass the smelling salts!
At the ripe old age of 26, no single group of people has ever been so interested in my reproductive health or family planning methods — not even my grandparents, and trust me, they are thirsty for grand-babies. Turns out, there’s an unspoken timeline in military marriages, and after a certain point — generated by some vague algorithm involving your age and the amount of time you’ve been married — people feel no shame in asking unsolicited questions.
I’ll also never forget how I read a three-page list of guidelines for wives of Marines attending the annual USMC birthday ball; highlights included a friendly reminder to “remember: this is not about you,” and a subsequent series of commandments forbidding everything to include cleavage, talking before one’s servicemember, and being afraid of utensils. Bless this lady’s heart; the piece was punctuated with a reminder to “HAVE FUN!!”
I wish someone had at least forewarned me of this before I married my husband. It wouldn’t have changed a thing — I like, like like him, guys — but this retrograde aspect of the military is something that I do wish people talked about more openly. Stay tuned for the book to follow.
4. It’s freaking weird.
There are endless quirks to life on a military base; granted, you become accustomed to them fairly quickly, but to an outsider, it’d be pretty easy to see why most people inside the military community refer to it as a “bubble.”
For example, when you live on a military base, gone are the days when you can roll out of your car and into the grocery store in your favorite Spongebob pajamas; there’s a dress code, ma’am, and you’ll be kicked out if you don’t stick to it. You get used to passing gas stations for tanks, helicopters passing overheard stopping your conversation in its tracks, and speed limits that seem more adequately designed for tortoises. You stand to attention (yes, even as a civilian) for colors twice a day. You notice the coded badges pinned to people’s collars, and you understand what they mean.
It’d take a real Scrooge to hate all these strange subtleties, though; it just becomes part of life that, when you’re extracted from it, is simply a little bit kooky.
5. This is a job that your spouse can’t escape from.
Now, when I come home from work, I have the luxury of becoming real-life Amy the moment I clock out. My husband? Not so much.
Servicemembers are paid by rank, not by the total amount of hours worked (which is arguably criminal if you look at the military pay rate, especially for junior enlisted ranks). Thus, they’re never “off the clock.”
This bleeds into everyday life, even when they’re not working. They’re never not a Marine, a soldier, a sailor, or an airman.
If I could only take back the number of hours I’ve lost waiting for my husband to get his weekly haircut, I could probably take a short sabbatical with them. He shaves every morning that he has to go out in public (save for the cheeky vacation scruff of 2017, RIP). He receives work-related phone calls at all hours of the day, seven days a week. Vacations are a precarious endeavor that are dictated by ops temp o, deployments, and leave blocks — not simply a whim and accumulated hours.
Furthermore, the military life whittles at the character of the person you married. In my case, this has been all positive; my husband has truly blossomed since he became an active duty Marine, and I wouldn’t trade any of the lost hours (or facial hair) for this immaculately-sculpted person.
Regardless, cheesy stories aside, no-one ever tells you that the job will mold the human you wed in ways you weren’t anticipating.
6. It does take a specific type of person to be a military spouse.
In the beginning, I naively thought that marriage would be easy (that was my first mistake).
The second, larger mistake was ardently believing that anyone could be successfully married to a service-member if they wanted to. I truly believed that grit and love were the only necessary components of a lasting military marriage.
Now, I look at long-term military spouses with nothing less than awe; to weather decades as a military spouse is a truly incredible feat.
You have to be tolerant. You have to be flexible. You have to be resilient. You have to be extroverted, or at least sociable enough to fool all the pools of new people you’re thrown in with on a regular basis. You have to be willing to make sacrifices to your career — because fulfilling, military-spouse-proof, work-from-home jobs don’t grow on trees (whatever Susan’s pyramid scheme would have you believe). You have to be capable enough to manage a household single-handedly, but humble enough to be sidelined in social situations.
Could I do it? I’m not sure; time will tell.
What I am sure of is that military couples who manage to maintain strong, healthy relationships over long periods of time deserve unadulterated respect.
The bottom line? Military life is a life of sacrifice, however large or small, for servicemembers and their families.
Admitting this is not martyrdom, it’s an admission of truth in a world that encourages marriage without making it known that civilian wellbeing is not a priority.
Ultimately, I think if we talked about this elephant in the room, instead of laughing at it and labeling it a “dependa,” we’d see some real change in military family culture.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Preparing before you join the military is a great way to set yourself up for success once you take that oath.
To start your military career right from Day One, there are some vitally important factors for you to consider so you can be successful in your initial training as well as your follow-on or advanced training. This advice is for anyone planning to join any military service.
5. Start talking to recruiters a year out.
If you are considering enlisting or joining an officer commissioning program, make a plan to go and speak to all the service recruiters. If you are set on the Marines, go and explore your options with the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and the Air Force anyway. If you are just interested in the Air Force, then talk to the Army, Marines, Coast Guard and the Navy. At this point, you “don’t know what you don’t know.”
Speaking to recruiters from all military services will give you a very good idea of the full range of positions, training, and signing bonuses that are available to you. At any point in joining the military, there is a spectrum of opportunities that are and are not available based on the current size of the respective services. Speaking to all the recruiters gives you a good idea of what is truly available.
4. Drugs, legal violations, some tattoos, obesity and fitness ruin people’s military dreams.
There is a large group of people that want desperately to join the military but cannot due to violations of the military service standards that bar them from entering service.
As a broad rule, the use of illegal drugs; legal convictions of criminal activity; some tattoo’s on the face, neck, or hands; personal weight levels above the service standard; and the inability to successfully complete a basic physical fitness test are what remove candidates from consideration for military service.
The best advice is to avoid any and all activities that will disqualify you from military service.
3. Get in good overall shape.
Your goal for fitness and bodyweight should be to get in the best overall shape that you can.
You want to balance strength training and cardiovascular fitness because too much strength training could hurt your run times and too much running may leave you susceptible to injury and could even cause you to fail the push-ups or pull-ups to military standard. There are a number of excellent fitness programs that you can pursue.
2. Do well on your high school GPA/ graduate.
After the fitness disqualifications to military service, a lack of a high school degree with a decent GPA is next. A high school degree and a good GPA that will help you do well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) – a test that partially controls what military specialties that you can sign up to perform.
1. Prepare for times when military service is awful.
At my first duty station in Korea, the January weather was so cold that the water buffalos froze inside of heated tents, which made serving hot food impossible. We had limited MREs because they were all in the Middle East so we ate beef jerky or nothing because the peanut butter sandwiches froze. It was a horrible time in the field.
You can do all the physical preparations you want, but your mind has to be prepared to suffer — and suffer mightily. Military recruits that are not prepared to suffer and to perform their best while suffering are challenged to complete a term of military service.
Talking early to recruiters, staying away from activities that disqualify you for military service, being in good shape, possessing a completed high school degree and having your attitude focused on surpassing suffering while still serving well is how you succeed.
Being in combat is one of the craziest experiences a person can have. Bullets are zipping by your melon and impacting the wall behind you, eyes wide and on the alert as the incoming rounds blanket your position. Sounds crazy. Because it is.
War is hell.
Well-trained military minds know, winning the battle is the most important aspect of winning the war. In combat, the rules are different than in any other situation you’ll probably find yourself. All available fingers need to be pulling triggers.
So if allied forces take a mass casualty, the guy who is hurt the worst isn’t necessarily the one who gets treated first.
During combat, the rules on who receives care first changes in a matter of moments. If a squad is under heavy attack and a few trigger pullers get hurt, then the unit is down a few bodies.
After the field medic takes care of their wounds, let’s say subject “A” sustained a “GSW” or gunshot wound to the chest, they are now out of the fight. If subject “B” took a bullet to their leg, they’re still considered in the fight because it’s not life-threatening.
So during wartime rules, subject “B” is supposed to be treated first to allow them the chance to get back on their weapon system and return to the fight. Hopefully subject “A” will be okay and pull through.
People often associate the military with fighting wars, which makes complete sense. The infantry, which is the spearhead of the military, is the primary combat job. So, one might would think infantrymen are in every country upon which the United States is dropping bombs. The truth is: they’re not. In fact, chances are, they’re stuck on a boat, an island, or in a porta-john waiting for the next war to pop off so they can play in the big leagues.
Being in the infantry between wars is a lot like being on a professional sports team that only ever goes to practice. Realistically, the United States has been at war for quite some time, but what people don’t know is that infantry probably aren’t involved in that war.
Here’s what they’re doing instead:
It might be accurate to assess military life as 80% waiting. Hell, most of the time you spend in boot camp is in lines.
Whether it’s in a line, in the field, or in a barracks room, the infantry is stuck waiting. Always. Waiting. Anthony Swafford, author of Jarhead, truthfully wrote, “…we wait, this is our labor.” If that doesn’t define “peacetime” military life, what does? The fact of the matter is that you’ll spend most of your time waiting for something and no one knows what that something is, not even your command.
You’ll probably spend more time holding a broom than a rifle, honestly.
Everyone knows veterans are extremely organized and are good at keeping things clean. That’s because we spend so much of our time cleaning everything that it becomes habit. In the military, you even clean things that can’t be cleaned. In fact, most of what you do is polish turds, considering military barracks (specifically those of the Marine Corps) haven’t been renovated since the day they were built.
This isn’t for everyone, but quite a few people pick up the habit because it’s a great time killer. Remember how we said you spend 80% of your career waiting? Well, if you pick up smoking, you’ll bring that down to 70% and use that other 10% to smoke as you combat the boredom of waiting.
Whether it’s a three-hour lecture on sexual assault, the importance of wearing a seat belt, or why the desert tortoise is sacred at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (a.k.a. Twentynine Palms), you’re going to sit in the base theater for an entire day listening to one commander “piggy back” off another.
Don’t worry, there will be porta-johns in-country.
‘Appreciating’ adult films
If you don’t pick up smoking, you might instead find yourself killing time in a porta-john doing this. If you’re at Twentynine Palms during the summer (or in general), you might even challenge yourself to see if you can complete your “mission” before you pass out in the porta-john.
Just to be clear, this will probably be in addition to killing your lungs.
You’ll probably play a video game where you portray someone doing your job, too.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ash Severe)
Remember what we said about waiting in a barracks room? This is what you’ll probably do during that time. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a leadership position or if you’re a boot rifleman (if you’re a boot, you should study instead), you’ll be killing time by playing video games. When you’re taking a break from that, you’ll probably be doing #3 or #5 instead.
Just make sure one of the first things you do in your unit is buy a small T.V. and game system or a highly efficient laptop. Even if you go on a combat deployment, you might be able to take it with you to kill time between patrols or other duties.
Our mothers put up with so much and they never get the credit or recognition they deserve. They carried us for nine months, spent every waking moment of our first few years diligently caring for us, and tried their best to make us our best. Then, after we turn 18, we go to war and we stop calling.
We rarely ask for their advice and often jump face-first into the very potholes they told us to avoid — and still, they couldn’t be any prouder.
This one goes out to all you lovely military moms out there. This is why you’re the best.
The “My child is an Airman/Soldier/Marine/Sailor” bumper sticker is far more impressive than any college.
(Photo by Cpl. Mackenzie Carter)
They’re brought into the military life while stuck with civilians
More often than not, our mothers don’t really get a say on whether we join the military. Sure, she’ll be a little disappointed when it finally sets in that their kid isn’t going to be a millionaire brain surgeon who can afford to buy her a beautiful mansion (sorry, mom, but we both knew that wasn’t going to happen with my high-school grades), but they’re still proud of their baby.
Next, they’re sucked into the military lifestyle and there’s no way of backing out. They’ll try to move on as if everything is normal, but they’ll find that their patience with civilian moms will quickly wear thin.
The pain is all worth it for the moment that plane lands, though.
(Photo by Capt. Richard Packer)
They’re heartbroken almost the entire time we’re gone
Deployments are rough on everyone. In our absence, friends we once knew change entirely and even some lovers fade away. But our mommas will always remain. They’ll never stop thinking of us as their babies.
Sure, most moms can keep their composure in front of others, but there isn’t a moment that goes by that they’re not thinking of us.
They may not get info on the exact moment you’re landing until just hours beforehand, but you can be certain they’ll be there!
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Lauren Gleason)
They go months without knowing if we’re okay
Communications blackouts are no joke. When something major happens, troops will be told to cut off all communication with the folks back home. These blackouts happen without notice.
Not to make everyone feel horribly guilty, but, uh… sometimes we tend to do this accidentally by using our few phone calls back home to check up on our significant other instead of letting our mothers know that we’re doing fine.
And in return, one of the few gifts we can give back is allowing them to pin rank on our uniforms. It may not seem like much but, to them, it means the world.
(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alana Langdon)
They’re always on-point with care packages
Without exception, care packages are loved and appreciated by deployed troops. It’s always nice when schools, churches, and other organizations send out the standard collection of socks, baby powder, and Girl Scout Cookies, but our moms know how to out-do everyone.
Our moms have read through every single article on the internet about care packages and what to put in them. They’ll toss in home-made cookies, personal photos, and things we’ll actually cherish while deployed. After all, mom knows best.
Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!
(Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson)
They do everything in their power to keep you stress-free
If there’s one skill that every mother learns to master over 18+ years of childrearing, it’s how to handle insane and ridiculous problems. Putting out match-sized fires is nothing when they’ve learned to deal with forest fires.
You might realize it, but our moms are our best friends while we’re deployed. They’re our bakers, our financial advisers, our babysitters, our confidants, our emotional rock, and, if you’re like me and had the pleasure of enduring a deteriorating marriage while deployed, our enforcers (my mom is badass like that).
Above all, your mother is the one woman on this Earth who will love you most.
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:
Firefighters from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. put out a blaze during nighttime live-fire training, Nov. 9, 2017, at Moody AFB, Ga. Moody and the Valdosta Fire Department joined forces to prepare for the possibility of nighttime aircraft fire operations.
An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 492nd Fighter Squadron, takes off from the flight line for a training sortie at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Nov. 6. The 492nd FS recently returned from a six-month deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Emerson Nuñez
A Soldier from the 1-214th Aviation Regiment checks his aircraft during a simulated crash exercise Nov. 6 in the Wackernheim training area.
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from 1-214th GSAB was used as a prop to add realism to the environment with around 70 personnel responding to the incident, including elements of the Mainz civilian fire and rescue services and Wiesbaden Army Airfield fire and rescue services.
Spc. Matthew Williams, a cavalry scout assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment fires a Stinger missile using Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADs) during Artemis Strike, a live fire exercise at the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) off the coast of Crete, Greece Nov. 6, 2017.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) transits the Atlantic Ocean Nov. 7, 2017. The Oscar Austin is on a routine deployment supporting U.S. national security interests in Europe, and increasing theater security cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.
Sailors attached to the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), participate in the Damage Control Olympics, a command training event promoting knowledge and safety. Blue Ridge is in an extensive maintenance period in order to modernize the ship to continue to serve as a robust communications platform in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller cuts a cake at a Marine Corps birthday ceremony at the Pentagon, Arlington, Va., Nov. 9, 2017. The ceremony was in honor of the Corps’ 242nd birthday.
Happy Birthday, Marines!
U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Marine Air-Ground Task Force-5 (MAGTF), integrated with 3rd Assault Amphibious Battalion, exit an amphibious assault vehicle while conducting their final exercise during Integrated Training Exercise 1-18 (ITX) on Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., November 3, 2017. The purpose of ITX is to create a challenging, realistic training environment that produces combat-ready forces capable of operating as an integrated MAGTF.
U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Rich Bassin, a machinery technician on the National Strike Force’s Atlantic Strike Team, observes local Puerto Rican boat owners attempting to salvage a vessel in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6, 2013.
The Maria ESF-10 PR Unified Command, consisting of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, U.S. Coast Guard, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Control Board, Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. and Fish Wildlife Service, is responding to vessels found to be damaged, displaced, submerged or sunken.
Coast Guard members from Station Venice, Louisiana, medevac a cruise ship crewmember who was experiencing appendicitis symptoms near Venice Nov. 6, 2017. The crewmember was taken to to emergency medical services at Station Venice in stable condition.
The U.S. military’s uniform history is one of tradition and tactical purpose. Many tiny details on our uniforms date back centuries. The different colors in the Army’s dress blues are a call back to the days when soldiers on horseback would take off their jacket to ride, causing their pants to wear out at a different pace. The stars on the patch of the U.S. flag are wore facing forward as if we’re carrying the flag into battle.
Something that always stuck out was why the ACUs have the button and zipper locations opposite of civilian attire. All Army issued uniforms had buttons until the M1941 Field Jacket added a zipper with storm buttons on the front. Shortly after, many other parts of the uniform including pockets, trousers and even boots would start using zippers as a way to keep them fastened. The zippers, like many things in the military, were made by the lowest bidders until the introduction of the Army Combat Uniform or ACUs in ’04.
The zipper on the ACU blouse is heavy duty and far more durable than zippers on a pair of blue jeans. The zipper is useful on the blouse for ease of access but it also has a tactical reason for its use. A zipper allows medical personnel to undo the top far easier than searching for a pair of scissors or undoing all of the buttons. The hook-and-loop fasteners (Velcro) is to help give it a smooth appearance.
Buttons on the trousers serve a completely different purpose. The buttons keep them sealed better than a zipper. Think of how many times you’ve seen people’s zipper down and you’ll get one of the reasons why they decided to avoid that. Buttons are also far easier to replace than an entire zipper and a lot quieter when you need to handle your business.
Dress uniforms take the traditional route to mirror a business suit. The Army Aircrew Combat Uniform is on it’s OFP.
As a military spouse, it can feel overwhelming to try to have a career of your own, and even then, its tough to find one you want that meshes well with the military lifestyle.
Recently I came across an article We Are The Mighty syndicated a few years ago: The 10 coolest jobs for military spouses. The list was filled with things like “be a babysitter!” and “be a dog groomer!” among other things.
I understood the premise behind the article: careers that are mobile. But overall, it was a list of starter jobs that — when you’re in your mid 30s and trying to have a serious career — don’t exactly scream “I am a professional!”
Adulting is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re constantly moving, constantly having to search for a new job, and constantly juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and spousehood and…you get the point.
This made me wonder if typical spouses generally just settle into jobs like babysitting and dog grooming and selling mascara, so I went to a group of military spouses who’ve managed to have successful careers and successful marriages, and I asked them to tell me what they do.
The following careers are all careers that current and former Military Spouses of the Year have, and it just goes to show that being a military spouse does not have to mean you’re doomed to sell makeup or babysit for the rest of your service member’s career (that is, if you don’t want to).
*Note: there isn’t anything wrong with direct sales. In fact, I’ve done direct sales, and a lot of spouses do, because it is extremely mobile. The purpose of this list is to think outside of the “military spouse” box.
Brittany Boccher owns an apparel company called Mason Chix
Lakesha Cole owns a brick and mortar children’s boutique called SheSwank in Jacksonville, NC
Valerie Billau founded a kids consignment shop, which she sold after three years when her husband took orders elsewhere
Melissa Nauss owns Stars and Stripes Doulas
Andrea Barreiro is an agent for professional athletes.
Heather Smith is a tennis coach.
Ellie OB coached college basketball for 12 years
Physical and Mental Health care:
Lisa Uzzle is the director of healthcare operations at a medical facility
Melissa Nauss is a certified doula
Alexandra Eva is a nurse practitioner who hosts clinics in rural areas of third world countries that don’t have much access to medical care. She has worked in Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, and Mozambique, among others
Paula Barrette is a licensed optometrist, though due to the difference in each state’s current licensing laws, she often finds herself volunteering as an optometrist at military clinics rather than getting paid
Dr. Ingred Herrera-Yee is a clinical psychologist for the Department of Defense, and the founder of a network for military spouses in the mental health field
Amber Rose Odom works as an administrator in a dental office
Michelle Lemieux is a registered nurse for adolescent psychiatry
Zinnia Narvaez is a medical assistant, and practices OB/GYN at a community health center
Stephanie Geraghty became a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) in order to provide better care for her son, who has special needs. In some states, the state will pay for up to a certain number of hours per day of in home nursing care, and in Geraghty’s state, immediate family members qualify to provide the care. Geraghty put herself through the schooling and passed the board, and now officially works for her son
Anna Blanch Rabe is the CEO of a communications company that specializes in service non-profit organizations with high quality communications content, strategic planning, and business advice. She started her professional career as an attorney, but current licensing issues prevent her from practicing in most states her service member gets orders to
Erica McMannes is the CEO of an outsourcing and virtual staffing agency for military spouses
Amy Hanson is the executive assistant to the Vice President of a “billion dollar company”
Lisa Wantuck is the Director of National Sales for an IT staffing company
Elizabeth Groover is an executive management specialist for a chemical and biological firm
Kori Yates and Cassandra Bratcher founded non-profit organizations that involve military spouses
Maria Mola is the development director for a non-profit that focuses on providing 24 month transitional housing for homeless veterans and families and formerly incarcerated veterans
Erin Ensley, along with her daughter, make and send teddy bears for the Epilepsy Foundation
Amy Scick is the Director of Community Relations for a non-profit that focuses on military spouse employment
Leslie Brians is a graphic designer and creative director for a military spouse focuses non-profit
Mindy Patterson works with an agency that is addressing the need for assisted living for people who don’t qualify for it through other various government programs
Jessica Del Pizzo is an account manager for a cyber security firm
Alex Brown works in cybersecurity, and notes that analysts, remote support, network security design, consultants, and even administrative database managers are excellent remote positions, and with the need for cybersecurity specialists, most places are willing to work with remote employees
Education and child focused:
Jennifer Delacruz is a special education teacher, who also writes children’s books about special education
Elizabeth Lowe is a personal in home one-to-one therapy caregiver to a child with severe special needs
Brittany Raines is in foster parenting licensing
Rebekah Speck is a “parent navigator” for a state run program that provides families of disabled children with an advocate to help them address things like IEPs, etc
Courtney Lynn is a 3rd grade teacher
Christina Laycock is an accountant
Stacy Faris is a business administrator
Grace Sanchez is a bookkeeper
Kelli Kraehmer is an account manager for a large wireless company
Kennita Williams is a legal aid for a DoD Staff Judge Advocate