How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

M&Ms, cheese spread with jalapeños, and the tasty chili mac are just a few of our favorite items that are included with the famous military meal plan known as the MRE.


At first glance, these items seem to be simple and not worth a whole lot to the average non-military person.

But after servicemen and women have been deployed to a small FOB or patrol base for months, some of the items in an MRE begin to take on a whole new value.

So why are some of the highly preserved and bland tasting snacks worth so much? Well, we’re glad you asked.

Related: This is the research and development that goes into producing MREs

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

It doesn’t look like much now, but give it a few months — it’ll look like freakin’ gold.

We trade the more popular items for other goods or services — if we don’t scarf them down first.

Like we mentioned above, a few of the items that come in the rations are tasty and sometimes hard to find. Troops have their favorites but they don’t necessarily get to choose which meal they get at chow time.

If you happen to come across a package of M&Ms and cheese spread with jalapeños, you could negotiate with a fellow troop to take one of your assigned duties in exchange for the item — it happens all the time.

 

Also Read: This is what Mongol MREs looked like

You can sometimes use an item or two to gain information.

In last decade, we’ve been in conflict with an enemy who isn’t known for their nutritious eating habits like most Americans are. In many cases, Taliban and ISIS fighters have quit their posts due to hunger.

When allied forces leave the wire for a short amount of time, we tend to bring the tasty snacks that come in the MREs, like the almond seed poppy cake or the First Strike Bar, to enjoy during a security halt.

When we come in contact with a potential bad guy who looks like they haven’t eaten in days, handing over the sweet cake could gain trust and lead to the whereabouts of a nasty IED before it goes off.

We gamble with them

When you’re on a patrol base that barely has any electricity, you have time to come up with some original games based on your environment. One of our favorites is good-natured wagers. Betting the strawberry shake you didn’t drink at lunchtime can make the game much more exciting and kill time.

Let us know what you’d barter your favorite MRE for, and check out the very first episode of Meals Ready to Eat above to see how military cuisine is created and tested in high-tech kitchens then shipped to the troops on the front lines.

Military Life

This is why sniper duels are absolutely terrifying

“Getting shot at sucks. At no point is that a good thing.”


True words spoken by Tim Kennedy, a former member of the Army’s elite 19th Special Forces Group.

With snipers being one of the most feared warriors on the battlefield – think Carlos Hathcock and Eric R. England – their patience and stealth make them a fearsome force to be reckoned with.

Related: These 3 snipers had more kills than Carlos Hathcock in Vietnam

“Things change very dramatically when you know you are being hunted the same way you’re hunting them,” says Terry Schappert, a former Green Beret and sniper instructor,  when talking about his experiences.

You can see the ultimate sniper duel in “The Wall” starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and WWE superstar John Cena.

Check out the video below for the “Man in the Shadows” – Part 2

(We Are The Mighty, The Wall, YouTube)

Military Life

6 tips to help you survive the notorious ‘Crucible’

Since 1996, “the Crucible” has been the subject of Marine recruits’ nightmares. It serves as the final test you must complete in order to officially and finally earn the title of United States Marine. During this 54-hour event, your platoon is split into squads, each led by one of your drill instructors, and each recruit must take a crack at being squad leader.

Throughout boot camp, you become accustomed to getting 8 hours of sleep and enjoying 3 meals per day, but during the Crucible, you’ll get just 6 hours of rest and three MREs to last you the whole 54-hour period. You’ll have to face down physical challenges throughout the day to test your mettle and see if you really have what it takes to be a Marine.

Here are some tips for surviving.


How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Remember — you’ll need this skill for the rest of your career.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal)

Work as a team

Most of the challenges you’re going to face are team-based. You and the other recruits have developing individual strengths throughout boot camp, but you may not yet have developed great teamwork skills. The Crucible will, essentially, force you to figure it out.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Don’t be a weak leader.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

Take charge

When you’re selected to be the squad leader, be loud, be firm, and don’t be afraid to use the powerful voice you’ve spent the last three months perfecting.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Even if you plan ahead, be prepared to be hungry the whole time.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Carlin Warren)

Plan your meals

For the love of Chesty Puller, don’t scarf down your only meal for the day. Divide up your snacks and save the main meal. It sucks, but it’s better than going hungry in the second half because you ate everything during the first.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Just say, “f*ck it.”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pete Thibodeau)

Don’t be afraid to do anything

Hopefully, during boot camp, you’ve learned the importance courage since it’s one of the core values of the Corps. If you’re not brave yet, the Crucible is filled with challenges that will make sure you are before you become a Marine.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Just get back up and keep moving.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Jacob)

Be resilient

You may fail some challenges, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get to try again. So, don’t get discouraged when you’re getting smoked by a drill instructor.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Embrace the suck and you’ll make it through.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Yamil Casarreal)

Have a positive attitude

A positive outlook will get you through any situation. Even if you’re sitting on the cold dirt at 3 am when it’s less than 30 degrees outside, if you can find a way to be positive, you’ll get through it. If you learn this during boot camp, the rest of your military career will be a piece of cake.

Articles

This Marine better watch his footing in the new thriller ‘Mine’

After an assassination gone wrong, a Marine sniper, played by Armie Hammer, is stranded in a dry oasis after stepping on one of at least 33 million mines that occupy the desert region.


In this psychological thriller, Mike will have to battle himself, his enemies, and all the dangerous elements of his environment without lifting a foot until help arrives — 52 hours away.

Mine blasts its way into theaters and On Demand April 2017.

Military Life

5 traditions you’ll see at the Marine Corps ball

The Marine Corps ball is once again right around the corner. Marines and sailors of all ages will gather together at various locations to celebrate the Corps’ most important day of the year — the Marine Corps birthday.


In 1925, the first “formal” ball took place in Philadelphia where the Marine Corps originated.

The ball is a perfect time to get your drink on bond with the higher ups that have demanded so much from you over the past year.

In between the pregame drinks, the dinner, and the dancing — there are many traditions that are upheld at the exclusive event.

Related: 5 tips to have the best Marine Corps birthday ever

1. “Colors. Post!”

No formal military ceremony is complete without the Guard posting colors along with playing the National Anthem to start the night off right. In local VFW and Legions, those who’ve served the Corps’ proudly, often don in their beloved dress blues to continue at that ritual.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
These Marine Veteran Color Guardsmen post and retire the colors during Defense Logistics Agency Aviation’s celebration of the Birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps.

2. Escorting out birthday cake

Typically, the cake is escorted out to the center stage for all to see while the Marines’ hymn proudly played. The Marines of present and past commonly stand at attention during this prized and traditional moment.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
These Marine march forward as they present the well-decorated cake for public viewing.

3. The reading from the scroll

A Marine will stand front and center, open a scroll containing a brief history of how the Marine Corps was created — reading aloud for all to hear.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

4. Cutting the cake with a sword

It is customary at Marine Corps birthday celebrations worldwide to cut a traditional cake in celebration of the birth of our illustrious Corps.

There’s even a formatted script to maintain uniformity.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Col. Redifer cuts the birthday cake at the Marine Corps ball.

Also Read: 9 reasons you should have joined the Marines instead

5. The first three pieces go to:

After the cake cutting ceremony, the first three pieces are presented to the guest of honor, the oldest living Marine present, and the youngest Marine present — a perfect way to display brotherhood and connection.

This tradition is also part of the Marine Corp birthday celebration on the battlefield if possible.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Happy birthday, Marine!

Articles

Soldiers sue for benefits after non-honorable discharges related to PTSD

Hyper-vigilant during his military stint in Iraq, always on the alert that he was in danger of being killed, Steve Kennedy found he could not turn it off.


An Army soldier who had led several teams during his time in Iraq, and won numerous awards, Kennedy uncharacteristically started using alcohol and putting himself in dangerous situations, hoping to get hurt.

Diagnosed with major depression they could not treat, the military gave Kennedy a less than honorable discharge blamed on an absence without leave to attend his wedding. Once out of the service he was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
According to RAND, 20-30% of veterans are diagnosed with PTSD. (Courtesy photo illustration)

Alicia Carson took part in more than 100 missions in less than 300 days with an Army Special Forces unit in Afghanistan, and served in combat on a regular basis. When she returned home, she was found to have PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.

After presenting a physician’s diagnosis, she asked to be excused from National Guard drills. The National Guard then discharged her with a less than honorable discharge because of her absenses.

The two Army veterans filed a federal class-action suit April 17 asking that the Army Discharge Review Board give “liberal consideration” to their PTSD diagnoses as former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hegel had instructed in 2014.

They are being represented by supervisors and student interns at the Jerone N. Frank Legal Services Organization at the Yale Law School.

Kennedy, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, members of the Yale Law School team and others held a press conference on the suit at the law school after it was filed with U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton in Bridgeport’ federal court.

Kennedy and Carson are filing on behalf of themselves and more than 50,000 similarly situated former military personnel.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
In 2014, only 42% of veterans were enrolled in the VA. (Veterans Affairs photo)

Blumenthal had worked with the former secretary of defense to put in place the Hegel memo to correct discharges that were based on actions tied to brain trauma and PTSD.

“This cause is a matter or justice, plain and simple. …Steve Kennedy has been through hell. The special hell of a bad paper discharge resulting from post-traumatic stress, one of the invisible wounds of war,” the senator said.

He introduced Conley Monk, a Vietnam veteran, who was part of a different war but experienced the same bad papers due to actions committed while suffering from PTSD, something that was not even recognized medically in that era.

Monk, however, benefitted from the review board following Hegel’s memo after a lawsuit filed against the Department of Defense.

Also read: 5 things military spouses need to know about PTSD

Blumenthal said the discharges resulted in a stigma for both of them and Carson, as well as a loss of benefits.

Kennedy has since put himself through school and is expected to get his doctorate this year in biophysical chemistry at New York University. With an honorable discharge, he would have been eligible for $75,000 in benefits he never received.

The senator said a lawsuit should not have been necessary to move the review board to do the right thing and follow the law.

“The Department of Defense has failed to provide the relief the law requires,” Blumenthal said.

The Army does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Blumenthal said he has spoken to Secretary of Defense James Mattis about this issue.

“He has been sympathetic, but these men and women are not seeking sympathy. They want real results. …They deserve consistent standards and fair treatment,” he said. Blumethal said they are not seeking any financial renumeration.

Kennedy lives in Fairfield, while Carson lives in Southington. She was not at the press conference.

Related: Not all PTSD diagnoses are created equal

Carson suffered from severe PTSD-related symptoms, such as nightmares, loss of consciousness, loss of memory, trouble sleeping, irritability, feelings of being dazed and confused, and photosensitivity, a vision problem recognized as a symptom of traumatic brain injury.

Jonathan Petkun, who is among the law students representing Kennedy and Carson, is also a former Marine and a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“With this lawsuit, we are asking the Army to live up to its obligations and to fairly adjudicate the discharge upgrade applications of individuals with PTSD,” he said.

Petkun said since 2001, more than 2.5 million military personnel have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more than half deployed more than once. At the same time, some 20 percent are estimated to be suffering from PTSD or PTSD-related conditions.

“Instead of giving these wounded warriors the treatment they deserve, too often the military kicks them out with less than honorable discharges based on minor infractions, many of which are attributable to their untreated PTSD,” Petkun said.

MIGHTY GAMING

These are the Air Force swords that look like they belong in a video game

Everyone in the military (including the Air Force) scratches their heads over why ridiculous and over-sized swords are given to high ranking Air Force officers. The real reason is rooted in tradition and a dash of silliness.


U.S. Air Force NCOs honor officers who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps by inducting them into the Order of the Sword. The keeper of the Air Force Master Sword, the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, bestows the honored officers with a sword of their own, fitting to their duty.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
That’s right. The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force has his very own actual Master Sword.

According to the Air Force’s claim: “The original order of the sword was patterned after two orders of chivalry founded during the Middle Ages in Europe: the (British) Royal Order of the Sword and the Swedish Military Order of the Sword, still in existence today. In 1522, King Gustavus I of Sweden ordered the noblemen commissioned by him to appoint officers to serve him, and these people became known as the non-commissioned officers.”

Eagle-eyed historians would poke holes in many of those claims. The Brits don’t have an Order of the Sword. The Sweds didn’t have one until 1748, which is way later than what is considered the Middle Ages — and they haven’t inducted anyone since 1975. The Romans already had a form of an NCO, France’s King Charles VII helped form corporals a century earlier than Gustavus I, and Baron Von Steuben helped finalize the American NCO Corps as we know it with the “Blue Book” for the Colonial Army, so, yeah, there are some holes in this origin story.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
By video game logic, those Senior Airmen shouldn’t be high enough level to equip that sword.

As for the current Air Force Order of the Sword, the inductee is chosen by the enlisted airmen on a strictly confidential matter. Having roughly 50,000 airmen keeping a secret is nearly impossible, so the decision is made by the 15 senior most enlisted. Because of this, seven consecutive 4-star commanders of the United States Air Forces in Europe were placed into the order.

But it’s the design of sword that draws the most attention. The over-the-top pageantry that goes into the design is a source of entertainment and jest all around the military.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
So it has +15 lightning damage because he was the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command? Got it.

Articles

The 5 scariest things most recruits don’t know about the Army

Everyone knows there are risks to joining the Army, but there are the dangers that everyone knows about thanks to movies, and then there are the dangers that soldiers learn about during their time in service.


Most movies make it look like the only way to die is in combat. But movies like “Jarhead” and “Starship Troopers” remind everyone that there are a lot of under appreciated ways to die in the military, like being killed by your own artillery or friendly fire from a machine gunner.

Here are five relatively unknown ways to get your ticket punched in the Army

1. It’s not “Danger close” until it has a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating you

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo: U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Brecht)

“Danger close” is one of those military terms that pops up in movies from time to time. It’s usually used correctly with artillery observers yelling it on the radio when they need bombs or artillery.

What the movie doesn’t tell you is that the term “danger close” refers to fire missions where the rounds have a 0.1 percent chance of incapacitating or killing friendly troops. That may not sound like much, but the risk estimate distance, or RED, for calculating  danger close is on a per round basis. Which means you’re rolling those 1 in 1,000 dice every time a round is fired.

Danger close fires are still often a good idea since they’re only used when a U.S. position is about to be overwhelmed, but they’re super dangerous. If the artillery line is asked to fire a total of 150 rounds in a danger close situation, then they have an 8.6 percent chance of hitting an American even if they do everything perfectly.

Any mistake increases the risk.

2. Human chemical detectors

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Brian Kimball)

In the unlikely event of a chemical or biological attack, all members of the military don protective masks and suits and chemical soldiers track how the enemy agents break down until it’s safe. But someone has to be the first to take off their mask.

This moment sucks especially hard for the junior-most member of the unit since they’re usually the one who has to take their mask off first. So, good luck with that, new enlistees.

3. Every weapon malfunctions and malfunctions can kill you

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. John Portela)

The Army works hard to purchase and deploy effective and dependable weapons, but every weapon has a chance to fail even when it’s properly maintained. While soldiers usually act in training like helicopters only fall when shot at and weapons always fire until they overheat, that simply isn’t the case.

Take this artillery crew in Afghanistan that got a horrible surprise when their howitzer’s recoil mechanism gave out during a fire mission, leaving them to manually lower and raise the gun between shots. And that’s not even getting into the malfunctions that can kill soldiers outright, like when the breach or tube on a weapon gives out and it suddenly explodes when fired.

4. Everyone with a radio is a target

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Eric Provost)

American soldiers are trained to target enemy combatants with radios in an attempt to shutdown the adversary’s command and control networks. Unfortunately, the enemy has figured this out too and uses the same tactics.

What that means for every platoon leader and sergeant, every radio telephone operator, and every artillery observer is that their antenna is a huge target painted on their backs.

5. Even in training, the weakest link can get you killed

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Steven L. Phillips)

But the scariest thing about being in the Army is when you realize that you’re life depends on everyone around you, and some of those guys are pretty stupid. In combat, these guys can get you killed by not being good at their jobs, but there are risks in training as well.

Artillery crews can miscalculate and hit friendly troops, helicopter pilots can crash, troops who have negligent discharges can send rounds anywhere. Obviously, sexier training is more dangerous. Shoot houses with live ammo and artillery ranges are more dangerous than practicing to escape a rolled over vehicle.

Military Life

6 types of Commo guys you’ll meet in your first unit

Your first duty station is always full of surprises. You’ll quickly learn that your career is nothing like how you envisioned it in the recruiter’s office. The troops you serve with are nothing like the ones portrayed in films.


Every troop comes from a different walk of life and each has their own story. That being said, when you finally get to know the troops you’re serving with, there are always going to be a few of the same archetypes.

These are the guys you’re going to meet when you visit the commo shop.

Related: The 6 types of lieutenants you just can’t avoid in the military

1. The bonus chaser

It’s no secret that the commo world is extended some nicer enlistment bonuses. The Pentagon sees it as a necessary bribe to fill a high-demand MOS within the service. The bonus chaser signed up for these benefits and they’ll happily let you know it.

This troop is completely average. They’re nothing special, they keep their nose clean, and they begrudgingly say “roger” to every task that comes their way. They’re boring and, chances are, they’ve never said a word to anyone outside of the S-6 — they probably won’t say anything to those guys either.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Yep. Just holding the handmic for 12 hours, pretending they’re awake. (Photo by Senior Airman Chris Willis)

2. The “trooper”

Commo guys work closely with the higher-ups. The radio guy never leaves the officer’s side and the computer guy is always fixing their email. The “trooper” enjoys the attention.

They belt out, “you’ve got it, sir! Right away, sir!” like it was their calling card. They do this because they enjoy the fact that they’re needed more than the average Joe and take pride in their work.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Some call it brown nosing, others call it wanting to be useful. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Shiloh Capers)

3. The talkative nerd

There’s no denying it: the computer side of the commo world attracts a lot of nerds. At some point you’ll probably hear the sergeant major scream, “my internet went out! Someone get me those S-6 nerds!” And, for the most part, they’re right.

These aren’t your typical high-school nerds who sit quietly in the cafeteria. No, these nerds have learned how to talk to others and the military encourages troops to interact — which gives the computer guys an opportunity to explain all of their Game of Thrones fan theories… even if you’ve never watched the show.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
On the other hand, they’re probably the person you go to get movies down range. (Photo by Spc. Kirby Rider)

4. The extreme jock

This commo hates everyone they work with — almost entirely because of the talkative nerd. They’ve heard all about Bitcoin investing, they’ve heard every reason why the Star Wars prequels were just misunderstood for their time, and they’ll probably snap the next time they hear the phrase, “anime waifu.”

They’ll do anything to get away and have at least one conversation involving a sport. They’ll overcompensate to prove to everyone that they’re not the talkative nerd.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Anything to get out of the office, right? (Photo by Pfc. Kirby Rider)

5. The former grunt

This commo guy reclassed for better benefits after a few deployments, during which they did some real sh*t.

It’s sad watching the former grunt work. It eats them up inside every time they need to fill out a work order to get sent to civilian contractors to finally get the admin password so they can reinstall the operating system. This just isn’t their world. Watching these guys work with technology is like seeing a former college football star work at the Apple Store.

If you listen closely, what sounds like a head banging against their desk is actually “kill me” in Morse code repeated over and over again.

Related: 5 stereotype radio guys get stuck with

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

6. The POGiest POG to ever POG

On the scale of grunt to POG, you can typically put most combat arms troops on the grunt side. Even a support MOS is part grunt by proximity. But then there’re these guys.

Their pay grade says E-6, but their actions make you question how they even passed Basic Training. Hell, they won’t even make excuses when you call them a POG. They’ll probably just retort with some sh*t like, “Yeah? Well, I can take away your computer access with the stroke of a keyboard!”

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Humor

6 reasons why golfing should actually be the lower-enlisted sport

Golfing is nearly revered among officers. Almost every military installation has a golf course and, if you look, you’ll definitely find officers who set their meetings at the driving range. But the reason why all officers love golfing is exactly the same reason why lower enlisted should be fans, too: It’s the most sham sport you can think of.


Pretty much everything about golf is perfectly geared toward pretending like you’re working hard while actually just having fun — which is, essentially, the mantra of the E-4 Mafia and LCpl Underground.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

What other way can you drink while everyone else is working?

(Photo by 1st Lt. Kenya Saenz)

You can drink while you play

This is almost reason enough for lower enlisted to love golf. Why spend your day cleaning out the connexes for the seventh time this month when you could be drinking a beer with the colonel?

Most sports discourage you from getting plastered in the middle of the game. Golfing, conversely, encourages you to be slightly inebriated.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Even when they set up driving ranges on deployments, no one really cares how good you are.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland)

Your skill — and effort — doesn’t really matter

You can be tipsy and play golf because no one really cares if you’re good or not. Okay, fellow golfers might start to give a damn if you’re just so bad that people are lining up at the tee.

The good news is that if you’re really that bad (or that drunk), you can just go to the driving range and swing. Other golfers won’t judge you — because they’re probably drunk, too.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Don’t even worry about getting the ball, that’s someone else’s responsibility. The E-4 mentality at work.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland)

You’re just hitting things without consequence

If you’re very serious about golfing, you’re going to try your hardest. But everyone else on a military golf course is just trying to get out of work.

This point rings especially true on the driving range, where you don’t need to even worry about aiming. Most people use the driving range to improve their stance and swing, but if you just want to let off steam, just tee up, give it a nice, angry whack, grab another, and go again.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

It’s kind of a gray area, though…

(Photo by Capt. Stephen Von Jett)

You can just drive the cart all day if you want

Golf courses are huge and it’s kind of expected that golfers aren’t going to ruck their clubs around the course. Instead, they’ll just take a golf cart. If swinging your arms seems like too much effort, you can volunteer to just drive the golf cart.

Extra points here if you can get away with just driving around the course and never stopping at any holes. Just don’t be that idiot who does doughnuts on the green while drunk. Legally, you can still get a DUI while driving a golf cart.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

What other opportunity will you get to openly mock someone who outranks the f*ck out of you?

(Photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Conrad)

You spend more time joking than actually playing

Just as with everything else that the lower enlisted do, in golf, you spend thirty seconds doing the task (hitting the ball) and about five minutes joking around (waiting for the other golfers).

Your entire day is spent barely doing anything. You’re just drinking with the guys and cracking jokes at each other. Then, when you finally come back, you can tell everyone that you’ve had a long day.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

Just another day in the military, am I right?

(Photo by Sgt. Diandra J. Harrell)

You look professional as f*ck, but you’re really not

With all of this in mind, you’re not actually doing jack sh*t but having fun. Yet, for some reason, everyone thinks you’re this squared-away individual who’s been doing things officers do.

Officers (who are also wiggling their way out of command and staff meetings) know full well that you’re trying to skate — so are they. But they’ll still think highly of you.

Military Life

How to save when you’re living paycheck to paycheck

We all know we ought to save, but the idea of saving when we don’t feel like we have anything left in our bank account at the end of the month can seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to get your savings on track when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.  

Start with an emergency fund.  

Confused about where to start your savings journey? Sometimes it’s hard to know what to prioritize. What should we save for first – our retirement, our kids’ education or should we pay down debt? 

Why not start with an emergency fund? It can be a lifesaver – literally. A rainy-day fund can stand between you and financial ruin.  

An emergency fund should be at least $500-1,000 that is set aside in a separate savings account, one that you can access if necessary, but is not the same account you pay bills from. 

Save automatically each pay period. 

This is the quickest – and most painless – way to save. By setting aside an amount to be deducted from either your paycheck or transferred from your bank account each pay period, you can steadily build up your savings. You won’t miss it because you won’t ever “see” it or be able to spend it.  Even saving $20 each pay period will get you to a $500 emergency fund in less than a year. Once you’ve built up your emergency fund, move on to other goals and not worry about living paycheck to paycheck. 

Cut back whenever and wherever you caand REALLY transfer that money to your savings account. 

There are dozens of ways to cut back on your spending: you can start by ordering out less often and doing away with unnecessary subscription services and memberships. But the key is once you have reduced that expense, transfer those savings to your savings account. Otherwise, the extra money is way too tempting to spend!  

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Finances are super personal, and for some reason are seen as a taboo subject. We have all struggled with saving, and we all need help sometimes. The good thing is that military families have lots of resources available to them. Every military installation has a financial counselor and there’s free, confidential financial counseling available through Military OneSource and when you take the Military Saves Pledge, the start of a simple savings plan.  

Each military relief society (AERCoast Guard Mutual AssistanceNavy–Marine Corps Relief Society, and Air Force Aid Society) has emergency grants or interest–free loans available, both way better options than turning to high interest credit cards or loans. 

Want more inspiration and information on growing your savings? Take the Military Saves Pledge and then visit www.militarysaves.org or follow us on social media. 

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

Articles

Get your tissues — The Rock just surprised a combat vet

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a big supporter of the troops, and this isn’t the first time he’s surprised a vet, but his sincerity and flare always make for a heart-catching watch.


He partnered with Ford to unveil the 2018 Ford Mustang, and he decided to take it one step further by giving the car to combat Army veteran Marlene Rodriguez, who earned the Purple Heart for injuries received from an RPG while serving in Mosul.

Her reaction was stunned as she said, “I don’t deserve all this.” Johnson replied with, “You deserve more,” and we all lost our sh**.

His Instagram caption of the reveal was perfect (including the emojis–we’ve kept them intact for you):

This one felt good. Very good. ?? Our Ford partners asked me to unveil the never seen before, brand new 2018 FORD MUSTANG to the world. As their Ambassador, I’m happy to do.

With a twist.

Myself and Ford compiled a big list of US veterans and from that list, I chose Army combat vet Purple Heart recipient, Marlene Rodriguez to surprise and give it away to her.

It was such a cool moment that all of us in the room will never forget.

When Marlene, stopped and just looked at me and asked “Why?”, well that’s when I may or may not have gotten a lil’ emotional with my answer – in a bad ass manly way of course.

Why? Because of the boundless gratitude and respect I have for you, Marlene and all our men and women who’ve served our country. Just a small way of myself and the good people of FORD of saying THANK YOU.

A HUGE thank you to FORD, our SEVEN BUCKS PRODUCTIONS and everyone who was involved in making this awesome surprise come true.

Finally, thank you FORD for making the new 2018 Mustang straight ?, completely customizable for the world to enjoy. Thanks also for making sure I fit in it as well.

Marlene, fits better. ?. Enjoy your ride mama. Enjoy that Dodger game. You deserve it. 

It’s okay if you get a little misty-eyed over this one. We did.

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.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
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.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
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.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
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.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
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.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member

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.

How certain MRE items become cash money to a service member
Hey! You might finally be able to pay off that ’69 Camaro you got at a 24% interest rate! (Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

Do Not Sell My Personal Information