Here's what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

 


Here was my experience at Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California.

As has been said there is no way to describe boot camp or even the Marine Corps accurately enough to really make them feel what it is like. But, I will give it a shot. I began writing this and realized it was turning into a short story, so I will shorten it to the first 36 hours of boot camp, and it will give you some idea of how it is in boot camp.

Boot camp is the time when a teen, or young adult, is taken and slapped in one of the worst places to be. That kid is broken down to that of a whimpering boy, then rebuilt into what the Marine Corps wants in its warriors.

The first time I asked myself “what am I doing here?” was basically my first run in with a drill instructor. This was at the USO in San Diego’s Airport, yep that’s right an airport. All recruits are flown to the airport and staged in the USO, effectively out of ear shot, or sight from the flying passengers. Everyone there is basically thinking the same thing, holy crap what is about to happen! There will be people there who pretend to act calm and collected, that’s fake. Everyone is terrified, and waiting for that minute to get there. They told you the time, I assume to mess with your head! 7:25 p.m. I will never forget it.

So, there I was, 17 years old, one month out of high school, sitting on the couch watching T.V. I have no idea what was on because that wasn’t what I was worried about. There were other soon to be recruits playing pool, drinking soda, eating the free food that was given. All of the workers at the USO had a look of “oh honey, you are about to have a bad three months.”

 

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis/USMC

7:25 p.m. on the dot I heard, “Everyone going to MCRD get on your feet and get outside!” Not a scream, but just enough fire to make your heart race. I jumped up, and saw the drill instructor, about 6 feet tall, service charlie uniform perfect to every thread, that iconic campaign cover aka. smokey bear, and wouldn’t you know it, an eye patch! This dude was scary.

I ran outside as the Drill Instructor (DI) signed the paper work for the USO. We were all just standing around with no direction, or any idea of where or what to do. Then there was that voice again, “Get in a single file line at the side of the bus, have your SRB (service record book) ready to give me when you get on, do you understand?!” There were a lot of reserved “yes sir’s,” some said nothing, other’s snickered. “THE CORRECT RESPONSE IS YES SIR, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!” This time we all said it!

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Lance Cpl. Rodion Zabolotniy/USMC

As I stood in line something caught my attention to my right (at this point any Marine reading this is probably saying don’t do it man, don’t do it), but I looked over to see what it was, and quickly looked forward. “HEAD AND EYE BALLS TO THE FRONT!” I said nothing, because I didn’t know he was talking to me.

Side note: Every single person who goes through boot camp is, at some point, a blubbering idiot. All common sense leaves!

“YOU, OPEN YOUR MOUTH!” Still I said nothing, and now he was approaching. This was about to be my first, to put it into Marine jargon, ass chewing of my new career.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Cpl. Caitlin Brink/USMC

The DI was directly in front of me, slightly at a 45 degree angle, seeing as there was another recruit in front of me. “I GUESS I DON’T RATE A RESPONSE, IS THAT RIGHT RECRUIT!” Then I looked at him, you are taught to look at anyone who is speaking to you, in boot camp this is suicide. As I looked I answered with a “nyes sir” Yep, a no and a yes combined so elegantly into recruit words. “I GUESS I SAID LOOK AT ME RIGHT, KEEP YOUR HEAD AND EYE BALLS FRONT, AYE AYE SIR!” DI’s would sometimes give you the correct response at the end of their belittlements. So I shouted “Aye aye sir.”

Finally on the bus were we could take a simple breath, still too petrified to look anywhere but forward, my eyes burning from fear of closing them. “PUT YOUR HEAD IN YOUR LAPS!” We did without saying a word. “THAT RATES A RESPONSE, AYE AYE SIR!” We all shouted “aye aye sir” as we kept our heads in our laps.

“You will keep your heads in your laps until you are told otherwise, do you understand?” “Yes sir” we all shouted. The bus started driving to our new home, MCRD San Diego, California. The drive was probably only about 5 minutes, seeing as the airport is literally attached to MCRD. Not one person dared raise their head in defiance, even though the DI wasn’t on the bus with us, we wouldn’t even chance it.

The bus stops, and the air being released from the brakes was almost deafening. My senses were all in over drive, my body telling me to get the hell out of there. There was a squeak from the door and footsteps up the ramp. “EYEBALLS!” This was the command given to recruits that instructed them to look at the DI. We all somehow figured that out without any prior knowledge because we all looked. This started the phase known as receiving.

Receiving:

“You will stand up and quickly exit the bus, you will find yellow footprints on the pavement outside, you will fall in on those footprints from front to back, you will do this as fast as humanly possible, DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME!”

“YES SIR!”

“GET OFF MY BUS!”

The iconic yellow footprints, you hear about these things in tales of the past, this is the same spot where every Marine has stood. You never knew if you were standing on the same prints as any of the hero’s of old. Perhaps these belonged to a Medal of Honor recipient. You are told so much about these footprints that you expect you will be on them for three months. NOPE!

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Lance Cpl. Vaniah Temple/USMC

As soon as every recruit was on the foot prints we were taught the position of attention. Once that was accomplished we were gone. After being taught Article 86 of the UCMJ, dealing with hazing, we were off into the building. We had numbers written on our arms, our head was shaved, any and all personal belongings were taken, excluding money, credit cards, IDs, etc., we were issued our gear, and our identities were effectively removed. From this point on I was recruit Evans, the lowest of the low. There wasn’t one thing on the planet that I was above. Trash was more important than me, or so this is what they make you believe. We were turned over to our receiving DI’s, these would not be our permanent ones of course, that is later.

The first 36 hours are the worst, well the worst part of receiving, because you don’t sleep, and are herded around so quickly you don’t have time to even think. From line to line, desk to desk, room to room, the DI’s had us processed in every system, on every piece of paper, and in every way attached to the United States Marine Corps. By hour 30 I was closing my eyes just to wish I could sleep, but I was standing most of the time. You dare not fall asleep. I guess the recruit next to me didn’t get that memo because he fell asleep, while standing, fell over, and didn’t wake up until he hit the ground. I didn’t even know that was possible.

Finally, FINALLY a bed. In the deep recesses of MCRD, in squad bays that looked, and probably were, condemned. This was the time when you go to sleep and think, tomorrow will be better. It can’t be this bad the whole time.

The next morning, Wednesday, we were awaken in a very peaceful way, by our drill instructor throwing metal trashcans, shaking the beds, screaming things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy, and banging anything that made noise. It was 3 a.m. or at least that is what I assume because we didn’t have watches, and I felt as though I had slept for about an hour. We got dressed as quickly as possible in the very noticeable attire of a Marine Corp recruit.

Basically it is hell, and anyone who says it isn’t or wasn’t is lying. Or just had a really easy time in boot camp. Also, anyone who says that they couldn’t do boot camp because they would just laugh at the DI’s yelling at them is ignorant in every way. These are US Marines who are trained to destroy your soul. We had a couple of those people in my platoon, they didn’t last long with their laughing. Only a drill instructor can make holding a pen the worst experience of your life.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Cpl. Octavia Davis

 

To give some examples of life in boot camp I will list a few of my experiences.

– My shortest shower was 4 seconds long. Impossible? DI’s made it work.

– House turnover . . . I just cried a little. Imagine someone coming into your house with the soul intention of destroying it completely. This means taking clothes and putting them in the shower, moving 100 pound bunk beds from one side of the room to the other (the room being big enough to hold 130 recruits), pouring anything and everything they want on any clothing or gear, throwing everything in every drawer or cabinet anywhere they wish, pouring soap, detergent, or anything else they could get their hands on all over the place. Just imagine walking into that mess. Now, imagine someone forcing you to do it all the while screaming at you, then imagine having to clean that up.

I lost things I never got back, I had someone else’s shoes for the remainder of boot camp. It was a mess. Thankfully this only happened only 3 times.

– Pushing the Nile:

My DI came up with this one. There were two rooms: The squad bay, and the head (bathroom). No door separated the two rooms, just a 6 foot wide opening. The tiles on the bathroom floor were different from the cement on the squad bay floor. In the bathroom there were two nozzles on which hoses could be attached. Why? I HAVE NO IDEA! The DI would turn the nozzles on and pour buckets of dirt on the floor. The recruits job? Never allow the water or dirt to touch the squad bay floor.

 

– My shortest meal was on graduation day; I sat in my chair, and got back up immediately. That was the meal.

– How many people do you think can fit in one standard Porta-John, now imagine how many can fit wearing a flak-jacket, and a kevlar helmet? Got your number? Our DI accomplished 9. He once made a platoon of 89 recruits disappear in 10 porta-johns.

Now, this may all sound harsh and unnecessary, but I wouldn’t have had it a different way. It teaches you more than you can imagine. Including showing you that your limits are in your mind. There are tons of experiences any Marine can offer, but as I said it is impossible to know what it is like unless you live it.

Lists

The 6 dumbest things I thought I knew about the military before joining

When I joined the military, I didn’t have a lot of time for things like “background research” or “making an informed decision about doing something that might affect the rest of my life.” I didn’t even look into which branch I should join. I just walked up to the line at the recruiters’ offices. Like a drunk stumbling through the streets late at night on the hunt for food, I went with whatever was open at the moment I got there.


The list of things I didn’t know is a mile long. Life in the military was like a big black hole of awareness to me. Like most civilians (maybe), I assumed that what I saw in television and movies was more than a little exaggerated. So, what it was really like to live that military life was as foreign to me as the Great Wall of China.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

You’ll never get with 1980s Cher in that outfit, guys.

6. Sailors wear crackerjacks all the time.

I’m pretty sure the Navy wanted everyone to think that sailors wore white crackerjacks 24/7 as a marketing gimmick. By 2001, when I was at Fort Meade, I didn’t know who the hell those people in the dungarees were.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

And the learning curve for calling these guys “Soldiers” is harsh.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

5. We were all Soldiers.

Yeah, I didn’t know any better and I still don’t blame civilians for not knowing that only Army troops are called “Soldiers.” I learned I would never be called “Soldier” when I got to Air Force basic training.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Pictured: 20+ second lieutenants who all made more money than me on my best day. And have zero student-loan debt.

(Photo by Greg Anderson)

3. Enlisting is the only way to join.

There’s a difference between officers and enlisted people. That’s a no-brainer to me now, but back then, I seriously thought signing up at recruiter was the only way in. I knew the military paid for college, but I thought enlisting was the only avenue toward getting that benefit.

4. Enlisting is non-stop adventure.

If an airman’s additional duties count as “adventure,” then sign me up for the next squadron burger burn!

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re on a base full of airmen and it’s being overrun and there aren’t any airmen with berets on, you’re in deep shit.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice)

2. Everyone wearing camo could end up in the infantry.

I didn’t know that every new recruit goes to technical training. Regardless of the branch you join, you’re more than just a generic troop. Even if you’re in the actual infantry, you still have a military specialty. It’s more likely that you’ll end up in a technical field than in the dirt.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

And for good reason.

(U.S. Air Force)

1. All airmen fly planes. That’s what we do.

The closest I ever got to the controls of any plane was taking video of the cockpit. Despite being in the Air Force and the new title of “Airman” I just earned, I would never, ever be taught to fly a plane.

Articles

10 things to look forward to about military retirement (and 5 things not to)

Taking off the uniform and retiring is fraught with fear and uncertainty. Luckily, you’ll live. It might not seem like it sometimes after spending so much of your life in the military, but with a little persistence and patience, everything will be fine.


First, 10 things you can look forward to:

1. Higher pay

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

This is what everyone gets excited for and it’s a good deal after you get through the searching, preparing, and interviewing processes. It takes time and can cause night sweats wondering where you’ll end up after retirement, but if you play your cards right and land a decent job then your net pay can increase by about 50 percent. It’s not Easy Street, but it’s Easier Than Before Street.

2. Stability

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Cpt. Angela Webb)

This is a double-edged sword. Some people like the nomadic lifestyle the military gives us and actually struggle with sitting still in one place. We enjoyed seeing new places and wondering where we’ll be sent next. So when that train stops, it’s hard for some people to deal with. Others can’t wait to put down roots in a community and never move again. It’s nice to finally have an address that doesn’t change and no chance of another deployment order.

3. PT on your time

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Staff Sgt. Gideon Connelly leaps over a gutter during training at an adaptive sports camp in Crested Butte, Colorado. He is training to be a part of the Paralympic track and field team for the 2016 Paralympic Games. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

If you hated early morning PT then good news … you can hit the gym at whatever time you like. Leave work early and go for an afternoon run? Why, yes, I will thanks.

4. Networking

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: Starbucks)

This can be fun or a pain depending on how you look at it. Networking is always a good idea, especially if you’re a professional. If a post-military job doesn’t work out and you want to try something else, you have to know people who can help. So now you have a valid excuse to get out there and mingle.

5. Health insurance

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam)

While your co-workers at your new job are complaining about co-pay, premiums, and Obamacare, you’ll be comfortable in knowing Tricare and/or the VA system is cheap and effective … okay, now that I read that back it sounds kinda ridiculous. However, if you happen to be in an area that has a good military hospital and your family doesn’t have any major medical issues, the money you save on healthcare can be significant. I’m probably one of the few people who has nothing bad to say about the Army healthcare system, but I live outside Ft Belvoir (huge hospital) and have not had anything significant to deal with.

6. Hobbies

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: Wikimedia)

Never had time for one before? You do now. And if your hobby is hanging out with family, even better. Build a drone, write a novel, or hike the Grand Canyon finally.

7. Joining the “old farts” organizations

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Army vet, actor, and American Legion member Johnny Jenkinson. (Photo: We Are The Mighty)

The American Legion, VFW, IAVA, and everyone else will try to get you to join their club. These groups do good things for the collective good of the military but they’re honestly not for everyone. As soon as I retired I joined my local outpost but just never really connected with them on a personal level. But I continue to pay my dues and support them because those organizations are great advocates for the veteran community.

8. Running into old friends again

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

The American military is the biggest fraternity in the world. I live in DC and during any given month an old friend has to come here for one reason or another and we invariably get together, have a few drinks and enjoy Reason Number 9 to look forward to retirement …

9. Reliving old tales

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Military veterans share their individual stories during dinner at an adaptive sports camp in Crested Butte, Colo.

Over and over and over again. And history seems to change with each telling of the tale.

10. Facial hair

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Gen. George Crook. (Photo: Civil War archives)

Come on … you know you want to grow that sweet goatee.

Now, five things not to look forward to:

1. Loss of camaraderie

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard W. Rose Jr. (Ret.) and Staff Sgt. Gideon Connelly celebrate after climbing a 50-foot mountain during an Adaptive Sports Camp in Crested Butte, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo by/Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

You take the uniform off the soldier, but not the soldier out of the uniform…or something like that. The people you served with are what makes the life special. They had your back and you had theirs and it’s hard to find that camaraderie in the civilian world.

2. Lack of respect from young bucks

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mstyslav Chernov

Get it through your head that your former rank doesn’t mean anything when you get out. Even if you were a general officer, you’re Mister Jones now, so when some brazen E4 cuts in front of you in line at the PX because he’s in uniform, get over it.

3. Not being able to do what you did on active duty

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

This is more of an age thing, but the days of running 5 miles in body armor or going on a drinking binge the night before a Company run are over. Long walks through the neighborhood are the routine now. And naps.

4. Going to the bottom of the list of priorities

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: Greenbrier Historical Society)

Whether you’re picking up a prescription or trying to get on a MAC flight, retirees are the last priority for everything. In an instant, you go from priority one to priority none.

5. Dental insurance

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: Department of Defense)

For some strange voodoo reason, Delta Dental is 4 times more expensive than any of the dental insurance plans of the civilian companies I’ve worked for since retiring. Weird.

Kelly Crigger is a retired lieutenant colonel and the author of “Curmudgeonism; A Surly Man’s Guide to Midlife.”

Military Life

4 tips for corpsmen who want to earn their FMF pins

It’s the goal of almost every young corpsman who enters into their first unit to one day earn a Fleet Marine Force pin. Like everything else in the military, the pin is earned through plenty of hardship and many hours of studying.

The FMF pin itself has a beautiful design. It’s an extension of the Marine Corps’ Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, adorned with a wave that’s crashing onto a beach, signifying the historical sands of Iwo Jima. Two crossed rifles lie behind the globe, symbolizing the rifleman’s ethic that this program is designed to instill into sailors assigned to Marine Corps units.

 

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
All hail the mighty FMF pin. Semper Fi (Photo by Marine Cpl. Rose A. Muth)

Before a corpsman can proudly wear the badge, each sailor has to prove themselves through a series of written tests and oral boards. These tests are stringent, but we’ve come up with a few tips to help you navigate your way into earning the beloved pin.


Sailors with the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force listen as their senior Fleet Marine Force corpsmen instruct them on FMF knowledge at the unit's task force aid station.

(Photo by Marine Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)
Sailors with the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force listen as their senior Fleet Marine Force corpsmen instruct them on FMF knowledge at the unit’s task force aid station.
(Photo by Marine Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

Study the manual

When a sailor checks into their first unit, they will receive a thick book full of Marine Corps knowledge that’s nearly impossible to memorize. It’s a good thing you won’t have to.

The information within the manual is divided up into three different sections: the Marine Division (infantry), Marine Logistics Group (supply), and the Marine Air Wing (pilots and sh*t).

Outside of Marine Corps history, all you have to study are the sections that apply to you — which is still a sh*tload.

Learn by doing

For many sailors, it’s tough to sit down, read from a book, and retain all the information you need to qualify. Many of us learn better by doing. Go through the channels necessary to get your hands on a few weapon systems so you can learn the disassembly and reassembly process. Do this before you go in front of the FMF board.

Have your Marines quiz you

Remember how we talked about getting your hands on those weapon systems? Nobody knows those suckers better than the Marines who use them every day. So, when you’re with your new brothers, have them put you through a crash course on their gear.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Hospital Corpsman Billy Knight get pinned with his Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist pin by Chief Petty Officer Garry Tossing during a ceremony at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan.
(Photo by Sgt. Justin Shemanski)

Board while on deployment

When you go before the board to earn your pin, you should know everything, inside and out. That being said, most sailors don’t pass the board on their first time up.

If you opt to be evaluated stateside, the board will expect you to know everything there is to know, since you’re not on deployment and patrolling daily. If you board while on deployment, they usually stick to the basics — you’re under enough as it is patrolling the enemies’ backyard.

Secondly, studying for your FMF is an excellent way to pass the time — and it gives you a solid goal to accomplish before you pack up and go home. Frankly speaking, getting pinned by your Marine brothers is a great way to end a stressful deployment.

Military Life

5 reasons your troops are more important than promotion

If there’s one complaint common across the military, it’s that commanders too often care more about their careers than the well-being of their troops. It’s problematic when higher-ups are willing to put lower enlisted through hell if it means they look good at the end of the day.


Troops are quick to recognize this behavior but, unfortunately, commanders don’t see it in themselves or they just don’t care. There are plenty of cases, though, in which a leader will stick their neck out for the sake of their subordinates at the risk of their own career — because they understand what it means to be a leader.

This doesn’t mean you should be soft. It means that you should think about being in your troops’ shoes and understand the sheer magnitude of unnecessary bullsh*t they go through.

Here’s why leaders need to care more about their troops and less about their promotion.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Tough love without the love is tough.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos)

They’re essentially your children

No one like to feel unwanted — and that’s exactly what it feels like to have a commander who cares more about their career. It just results in unnecessary misery across the board.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

They’ll even charge into battle behind you.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

Troops respond to care with motivation

As previously mentioned, troops know when you’re only after a promotion. Once they pick up on it, they’re going to be reluctant to follow you anywhere. When it becomes clear that you do care, it motivates them to want to work for you. When your troops are motivated, they’ll follow you anywhere.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Respect is a two-way street.

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

You gain more respect

If you rely on your rank to get your respect, you’re going to have a bad time. Your goal as a leader should be to earn the respect of your subordinates by being the commander who gives a sh*t.

Here’s a tip: if a troop comes to you with a problem that doesn’t need to be reported to someone above you, handle it in-house. Your goal should be to do everything you can to avoid having your troops crucified if they don’t deserve it.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Maybe your sign will look less and less like this over time.

(Terminal Lance)

They’ll follow the rules

This may not always be true but when troops respect you, they’ll go out of their way to make sure you look good because they want you to succeed and climb through the ranks. After all, kids want to impress their parents by doing good things.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

They’ll be happy to do things like this for you, but only after you earn respect…

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Alejandro Pena)

They’ll understand when they have to do something stupid

If your troops know you’re the type who won’t ask them to needlessly do stupid tasks, they won’t blame you when you have to. Instead, they’ll blame someone above you for giving you such a task to pass down and understand that you aren’t trying to make their lives miserable.

In fact, they may even start to take initiative for minor tasks so you won’t have to ask them to do it.

Military Life

6 ways a leader’s rank can help their troops

There’s an old saying in the military: “rank has its privileges.” This is often quoted as a boss bullies their subordinate in a game of “Rock, Paper, Rank.” But a leader worth their salt won’t use their rank to coerce their troops, they’ll use it to help them.

Of course, a leader shouldn’t always bend over backwards to appease the troops below them. Instead, they should use their power and position to offer a helping hand to the men and women that depend on them. Here’s how:


Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Doesn’t mean you can protect them from everything. They’re still in the military, after all.
(Photo by Sgt. Timothy Lenzo)

Leaders can use rank as an “avalanche shield”

There’s another quote that’s often said in jest — “sh*t rolls down hill.” Meaning, a tiny snowball-sized problem from up top will continue roll down the ranks until it’s an avalanche-sized turd that knocks the lower enlisted silly. Fantastic leaders will try to keep most of the problems away from their troops so they can continue to focus on training.

Many troops don’t even realize how lucky they are to not deal with the repercussions caused by the actions of some joker in a completely different unit. A good leader knows their troops and knows that they can be trusted.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Doughnuts and coffee are also a cheap and efficient morale boosters.
(Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Peterson)

Offering to pay for little things

It’s in bad form to refer to or think of fellow troops by their pay grade instead of their rank — but that doesn’t change the fact that the platoon sergeant is making more than the FNG.

The leader doesn’t need to buy everything for their troops, or even that much. But picking something up from the gas station once in a while can’t hurt.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
They’re a leader’s troop in both the bad times and the good.
(Photo by Sgt. Justin M. Smith)

Rank can help defend troops from peers and superiors

No leader wants to get the phone call or text informing them that their subordinate screwed up. If they’re going to be NJP’d, a good leader should act as a pseudo-lawyer between them and the commander.

The subordinate could be dead-to-rights wrong and could be a constant problem for the unit, but it’s still up to a good leader to try and showcase the tiniest bit of good in them to make sure their punishment isn’t unjust.

A soldier in the supply room
Just don’t be a dick to supply. If you’re on their good side, you can get some really awesome stuff that “fell off the truck.”
(Photo by Keith Hayes)

Sweet-talking supply

On paper, the commander and senior enlisted are in charge of a unit — but it’s the supply guy who really has the most power.

A good leader can procure whatever they need from supply if it’s going to benefit the troops. This can range from lost gear replacements to better gear to better training aids. It’s all for the greater good, so long as you’re not bullying supply.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
And don’t be a dick to the training room guys, either. The reason they’re not always expedient is because they deal with a load of crap, too.
(Photo by Sgt. Shantelle Campbell)

Speeding up paperwork

Just like with supply, rank can also give you more oomph when you’re trying to get paperwork done.

Pvt. Snuffy may not be able to get a word in as they try to get a leave packet approved, but they’ll listen to you.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Giving a hand with menial tasks goes a long way.
(Photo by Bill Orndorff)

Turning down peers to work with their troops

If a leader is of a high enough rank, they can tell others that “all hands” means “all hands.” Nothing earns a troop’s respect faster than an NCO or officer sweating as much as the lowest private.

The one constant among all of the great leaders that I have had the honor to serve under is that they all would much rather get dirty with their troops than brown-nose the higher-ups.

Military Life

7 unique upsides of being a disabled dad

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

Choice Program temporarily allows vets to seek private medical care

President Donald Trump signed a bill April 19 to temporarily extend a program that lets some veterans seek medical care in the private sector, part of an effort by the president to deliver on a campaign promise.


The extension will give Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin time to develop a more comprehensive plan to allow veterans to more easily go outside the VA health system for care. Under the bill Trump signed into law, the VA will be allowed to continue operating its Choice Program until the funding runs out, which is expected early 2018.

The program was scheduled to expire on Aug. 7 with nearly $1 billion left over.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo: VA)

Trump said veterans have “not been taken care of properly” and that the program will continue to be able to see “the doctor of their choice.”

“You got it? The doctor of their choice,” he repeated for emphasis.

Shulkin, who attended the bill signing, has said the money is needed to pay for stopgap services while he works on the longer-term plan. He said April 19 that the plan is due in the fall. Congress would have to approve any changes to the VA health system.

Shulkin said the extension is important because it gives veterans another avenue for care.

“It’s this approach where veterans can get care wherever they need it that really is the way that we’re going to address all the needs and honor our commitments to our veterans,” he said after Trump signed the bill.

The Choice Program was put in place after a 2014 scandal in which as many as 40 veterans died while waiting months to be scheduled for appointments at the Phoenix VA medical center.

The program is intended to provide more timely care by allowing veterans to go outside the VA network only in cases where they had to wait more than 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a facility. Yet the program itself often encountered long wait times of its own.

Also read: The VA might actually be getting its act together

The new law also calls for changes to alleviate some problems by speeding up VA payments and promoting greater sharing of medical records.

Major veterans’ organizations and Democrats support a temporary extension of the Choice Program, but are closely watching the coming VA revamp of the program for signs that the Trump administration may seek greater privatization. Those groups generally oppose privatization as a threat to the viability of VA medical centers.

Trump had pledged during the presidential campaign to give veterans freedom to seek care “at a private service provider of their own choice.”

Mark Lucas, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, commended Trump for upholding a campaign promise to make veterans a priority, but said more needed to be done. Lucas said the Choice Program was a well-intentioned “quick fix” to the Phoenix scandal, but that it remains flawed and has forced too many veterans to seek care at what he termed failing VA facilities.

“Congress now has some time to work with Secretary Shulkin on broader, more permanent choice reforms that will truly put the veteran at the center of their health care and remove VA bureaucrats as the middlemen,” Lucas said. “We look forward to supporting legislation that will let veterans go outside the VA for care when they want or need to.”

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., said more than 1 million veterans have made 7 million appointments with health care providers in their communities under the Choice Program. He said those appointments would have otherwise “lagged” in the VA scheduling system.

More than 1 million out of 9 million veterans in the VA system use some Choice care, with agency data pointing to even greater use this year.

McCain, a Navy veteran, said the extension “sends an important message that we will not send our veterans back to the status quo of unending wait-times for appointments and substandard care.” He said more work is needed, but called the legislation “an important first step.”

Shulkin has said he would like to expand veterans’ access to private care by eliminating the Choice Program’s current 30-day, 40-mile restrictions. At the same time, he wants the VA to work in partnership by handling all the scheduling and “customer service,” something that congressional auditors say could be unwieldy and expensive.

Associated Press writer Hope Yen contributed to this report.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Why veterans tapping a drink on the bar is a sign of respect

Going out on the town with a group of veterans is definitely an experience that all civilians should try at least once. Not only will it dispel any preconceived notions that a civilian might have about the troops — we’re not all crazy, loud as*holes — it’s also a crash course in military culture and etiquette.

It’s the best way to learn all of the little details, like where veterans naturally position themselves in a bar (to get a better view of everyone coming in and out) and how they’ll instinctively form a wedge formation as they walk (a secure way of moving from one place to another).

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Once you notice this one, you can never unsee it. This is how pretty much all vets walk in a group.
(Photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer)

After you’ve settled in and you’re throwing back a few cold ones, one question that’s sure to surface from the civilian tag-along is why veterans solemnly make a toast and tap their drink or shot on the bar before resuming a night of heavy drinking. This tradition actually has roots that extend all the way back to ancient times.


The toast is a piece of international bar culture, but the military takes it to the next level. The first part is standard: Someone raises their glass and either dedicates the drink to group’s collective health or says something silly like,

Life is a waste of time, and time is a waste of life. So let’s get wasted all of the time, and have the time of our life.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
(Photo by Master Sgt. Jeffery Allen)

This brief, poignant message is a way for the person making the toast to appreciate everyone with them. If a veteran is giving that toast, they’ll next tap the drink on the table or bar to appreciate everyone not with them — the fallen. Think of this as a less-messy version of pouring one out for the dead. The veteran first shows respect to those around him or her, then to their fallen comrades, and then, finally, to his or herself by knocking one back.

It’s also seen as a sign of respect to the bartender and the house — who are some of the select few people that a veteran never wants to anger. This same tradition was also seen in ancient Irish times as a way to scare off evil spirits.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

So, if you see a veteran do this, by all means, join them. Keep the moment solemn as they are, nod, smile, tap your drink with them, and enjoy your night.

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Apr. 1

The military has very talented photographers in the ranks, and they constantly attempt to capture what life as a service member is like during training and at war. Here are the best military photos of the week:


Air Force:

Tech. Sgt. Rainier Howard, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, performs preflight inspection of a C-130J Super Hercules at Kadena Air Base, Japan, March 6, 2017. This is the first C-130J to be assigned to Pacific Air Forces. Yokota serves as the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for U.S. Air Force peacetime and contingency operations. Missions include tactical air land, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation, special operations and distinguished visitor airlift.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Smith

18th Wing Shogun Airmen observe the horizon from the cargo bay door of a 17th Special Operations Squadron MC-130J Commando II during a training sortie off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, March 21, 2017. Brig. Gen. Barry Cornish flew with the 17th SOS to better understand combat capabilities of the MC-130J and aircrews.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Reft

Army:

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers participate in the 1st Mission Support Command Best Warrior Competition mystery event, held on Camp Santiago, Puerto Rico, March 14. 

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anthony Martinez

South Carolina National Guard Soldiers perform high-altitude flight operations aboard a CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift cargo helicopter in proximity of Vail, Colo., March 9 and 10, 2017. The crew was attending a week long power-management course at the High-Altitude ARNG Aviation Training Site located near Eagle, Colo. 

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Roberto Di Giovine

Navy:

JINHAE, Republic of Korea (March 31, 2017) Equipment Operator 3rd Class Thomas Dahlke, assigned to Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 2, cuts a piece of steel in a training pool at the Republic of Korea (ROK) Naval Education and Training Command in Jinhae, ROK.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brett Cote

SAN DIEGO (March 29, 2017) Senior Chief Special Operator Bill Brown, assigned to the U.S. Navy parachute demonstration team, the Leap Frogs, prepares to land during a skydiving demonstration at the USS Midway Museum. The Leap Frogs are based in San Diego and perform aerial parachute demonstrations around the nation in support of Naval Special Warfare and Navy recruiting.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Pyoung K. Yi

Marine Corps:

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, ride in an MV-22B Osprey during an Evacuation Control Center exercise, over the Pacific Ocean, March 23, 2017. The Marines conducted non-combatant evacuation procedure training during Certification Exercise for the MEU’s 17.1 Spring Patrol.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Breanna L. Weisenberger

A Crew Chief assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 167, observes the landing zone from a UH-1Y Huey during a training operation at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, March 9, 2017. MWSS-274 conducted casualty evacuation drills in order to improve unit readiness and maintain interoperability with HMLA-167.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Brosilow

Coast Guard:

U.S. Coast Guard Northeast-based USCG Cutter Seneca crew continues to train while underway. Here, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey A. Evans, a maritime enforcement specialist, trains on a .50 caliber machine gun in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
US Coast Guard Photo

Military Life

5 reasons why going underway is the worst

Located in Southern California, Naval Base San Diego is the second largest surface ship base in the United States. Deploying on a ship with a critical mission is supposed to be one of the proudest moment for any sailor. Those aboard get a chance to serve their country by performing the righteous duties for which they’ve trained hard — in theory, anyway.

In reality, being underway means doing a ton of cleaning and other tasks that fall outside of your regular MOS.


It’s not like what you see in those cool television commercials. You won’t be working with sailors in the intel room trying to defeat an enemy force while listening to the soothing tone of Keith David’s voiceover. In fact, it’s almost the complete opposite.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Going on watch

If you’ve ever watched paint dry, then you know exactly how it feels to be on watch — you stare at nothing, waiting for anything to happen. Watch is, by far, is the most critical responsibility on any Naval vessel, but it can also be the most painful. You’re looking out for incoming threats, but the likelihood of that happening is slim.

That is, unless you’re in foreign seas and Somalian pirates are feeling ballsy.

No service

Using these little computers in our pockets, making a call to anyone around the world is as easy as picking up your phone and dialing. However, being underway means you’re not going to have any cell service — much to the devastation of millennials.

The idea of not knowing what everyone’s doing back home or what’s happening in the rest of the world can be a little unsettling. After weeks of limited-to-no connectivity, that moment when you reach port and see service bars on your phone is glorious.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Sleeping quarters

After a long day, it’s finally time to hit the sack — but you don’t get to sleep in a big bed like you did back home. You get to sleep in a rack that looks and feels like a coffin. It may be comfortable for vampires, but for everyone else, it’s anything but that.

Let’s be real, three-man bunks with a minimum of 20 to 30 roommates — does this sound like a good time to you?

Sweepers, sweepers, all hands man your stations

If you’re a sailor, you know how this feels. Once you wake up and get ready for your day, you know what’s about to happen. So, grab a broom and get to cleaning, because there’s always a petty officer around the corner reminding you to do so.

Welcome to hell.

It sounds easy at first, but after a day of working on the ship, the last thing anyone wants to do is pick up another freakin’ broom — trust us.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gabriela Hurtado)

Leaving your family

This is a topic that all veterans can relate to. Above all else, the reason we continue to fight is to protect the many families of our nation. Leaving them behind is extremely difficult. You have been their sworn protector for as long as you can remember, and now you must leave them to fulfill your obligations to our great country.

Saying goodbye to your loved ones — and not knowing exactly when you will return — is, by far, one of the hardest things about going underway.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This soldier found out she was pregnant only after she had a baby in Afghanistan

In the summer of 2012, young Benjamin was born to Pvt. Ashley Shelton in the middle of FOB Shindand, Afghanistan. The story was first broken by Stars and Stripes in October 2012, but details surrounding the birth weren’t released until WTHR 13 Investigates got into contact with the mother recently.


Pvt. Ashley Shelton was assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Ansbach, Germany and deployed in the spring. Normally, Army regulations bar pregnant soldiers and those who recently gave birth from deploying. However, due to her pregnancy tests being disregarded as “false-positives,” she was still sent with her unit.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Pvt. Shelton’s unit in Afghanistan. (Image via WTHR 13 Investigates)

Related: 5 struggles those who wore BCGs will remember

She continued her regular Army duties, even those that would normally be unfit for an expected mother such as physical training and combat duties. There were no normal signs of pregnancy, such as weight gain or a baby bump. Morning sickness or and cramping was mostly written off with a dismissive, “Well, it’s Afghanistan…”

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Baby Benjamin shortly after birth. (Image via WTHR 13 Investigates)

Then, on Aug. 12, she went to the aid station for cramps. The doctor told her to drink fluids and prescribed her bed rest. On her way back, her water broke and she blacked out. Her child, Benjamin, was born. The U.S. Army has yet to clarify what exactly went wrong, but they conducted internal investigations. Army representatives told WTHR 13 Investigates that they can not talk about personal health issues due to federal health privacy laws.

Years later, Benjamin exhibits some congenital birth defects, which may be a result of mishandled pregnancy. His medical records show a small knot in his lower left leg, described as a club foot, and a lower speech level than normal. Ashley Shelton has been struggling the last years with getting attention for her son’s and her own medical conditions.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like
Benjamin Shelton (Image via WTHR 13 Investigates)

That hasn’t stopped the fun-loving kid from running around the playground, though. There’s no telling if the kid ends up being a superhero, but that’s a backstory that tops Marvel and DC characters. Even if the kid doesn’t become a superhero, if he serves in the Army like his mother, you can bet that he’ll have a one-up card on everyone. “Where were you born? Some POG civilian hospital not in the middle of combat? That’s cute.”

Military Life

5 ways troops deal with their bug problems

Insects carry disease, infect food stores, and bring loads of other concerns with them. Keeping an area bug-free is a top priority for maintaining good health and hygiene.

The military has plenty of rules and regulations in place to help troops keep an area free of pests (which usually involves a lot of cleaning), but there are far more ingenious — and fun — ways to ward off these crawlers.


Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

And yet so many people forget bug spray on their packing list…

(Photo by Spc. Matthew Drawdy)

Busting out a can of bug repellant

A regular can of bug repellent works wonders. Normally, you’d spray it on your skin to deter pests for a little while, but you can also use it to protect an entire area.

The more expedient way, however, is to just spray it everywhere. Or, for maximum recklessness, you could just take a knife to the can and let it explode everywhere. Just watch out for open flames, though, because aerosol bug-repellent is highly flammable.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Other branches have a version of this, but they actually respray their uniforms instead of just hoping it’s good enough.

(Photo by Cpl. Jonathan Sosner)

Insect-repelling uniforms

For the soldier with plenty of faith in the system, the U.S. Army fielded factory-tested, insect-repelling ACUs to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan back in 2012. To their credit, the permethrin-treated clothing works kinda well at first.

Under factory conditions, the ACU-Ps were said to work for fifty washes. In the hands of soldiers, however, they last maybe three before the colors started to run.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

It’s really a toss up. Most insects don’t really care, but you’re really just trading mosquitoes for wasps.

​(Courtesy Photo)

Smoking tobacco

Among the least-advised methods of repelling bugs (according to most medical officers, anyway) is to smoke nicotine, but many older vets swear by it — or it’s just a convenient excuse.

Let’s set the record straight on this with some university-backed studies and advice from subject matter experts: Yes, some insects, like flies and some mosquitoes, are deterred by tobacco smoke. However, most insects are actually drawn to heat and smoke because it feels like an ideal environment — burnt and damaged trees. Additionally, plenty of the more aggressive insects, like wasps, are actually drawn to the smell of nicotine and discarded cigarette butts.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Whatever works, am I right?

(Photo by Staff Sgt. James Selesnick)

Field-goal kicking camel spiders

Camel spiders are notorious. They’re extremely large spiders that will desperately cling to shade, even if that shade is cast by troops standing in the open desert. They’re not aggressive and non-venomous to anyone larger than a mouse, but no one wants to see a giant f*cking arachnid skitter up close in attempts to stay shaded.

Some troops will openly accept the punishments associated with negligent discharge if it means they can open fire on those suckers. Others opt for a more effective (and satisfying) method: punting ’em into a million pieces when they rush you.

Here’s what the first 36 hours of Marine Corps boot camp are like

Just remember, the see-through ones are the most dangerous ones. Have fun!

(Courtesy Photo)

Night-vision goggles to spot bugs

Scorpions give off trace amounts of ultra-violet bio-luminescence that can’t be seen by the naked eye. Coincidentally, most night-vision goggles pick up light from both ends of the electromagnetic spectrum. For better or worse, you can spot scorpions more clearly at night through a pair of NVGs.

Be warned. Sometimes, you’re better off not knowing how many scorpions are really hanging around your fighting position.