The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

Getting assigned to your first unit or transferring to a new unit can be exciting…and unnerving. You want to make a good impression and quickly find your role on the new team, but you know being too much too soon can give off a bad vibe. 

First impressions matter, but what matters more is the impression others have of you after your first four to eight weeks. This is the time when you move beyond pleasantries and others will truly see who you are and what you’re like. That’s why if you follow the 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit, you’ll set yourself up for long-term success.

new unit commaraderie

1) Don’t talk.

When you join a new unit, it’s important to remember others might be skeptical of you and they might not trust you. It has been their unit for some time, and you’re the newbie. You’ll want to lay low when you start out. Keep your opinions about what the unit should be doing to yourself and don’t engage in conversations about controversial issues like politics or religion. Eventually, your unit members will become more comfortable with you, trust you and ask for your opinions. That’s the point when you have the willingness of your teammates to be open to what you think.

2) Listen.

While you’re doing a good job keeping your mouth shut, open your ears. As the new unit member, you’ve got a lot to learn, and the only way you can learn by listening. Pay attention and listen to everything and everyone you can—briefings, presentations, off-hand conversations with other unit members, etc. After a while, you’ll get a good sense of how the unit works, who the influencers are and how to get things done.

3) Meet as many people as you can.

Once you report to your unit, you’ll obviously meet with your unit leadership, but make sure you also schedule check-ins with personnel, operations, logistics, plans, communications, training, finance and any other support functions your unit or command has. While it might not be required, it’s a good practice because developing good relationships with officers and enlisted in those functions can help you get things done in the future. 

It might be hard to keep track of everyone you meet, so keep notes of who they are and the roles they play. Doing so might be impressive to others and help you build good will early on. 

4) Don’t cause any problems.

The last thing you want to do as the newbie to a unit is cause a problem, big or small. Obviously don’t be the one missing your Reveille or muster time, but also don’t be the one leaving dishes in a kitchen sink or leaving extra copies of your documents on a printer. Those little things will be noticed by other unit members and will make it more difficult for you to assimilate with your new group. Remember that the quicker you learn and follow the unit’s unwritten rules, the faster you’ll become one of the team.

In the end, it’s important to prioritize your long-term role in your unit. You can be known as the thoughtful, hard-working, reliable and strategic-thinking teammate, or you can be known as the one who causes problems, talks too much and doesn’t listen. By following these unwritten rules of joining a new unit, your choice will be obvious.

Military Life

6 types of Afghan soldiers you’ll meet on deployment

When you’re forward deployed to the front lines of Afghanistan, you will experience a new culture, taste some delicious flatbread, and meet a variety of different people. Ever since the U.S. became involved with GWOT, we’ve teamed up with the Afghan National Army, training alongside Afghan soldiers and even teaching them in order to help make Afghanistan a safer place.

Afghan troops are a one-of-a-kind type of people and, like us, they all joined their military for a reason — but not all of them are necessarily patriotic. In fact, it’s pretty rare when they go above and beyond like our troops do.


Depending on where you are stationed, you can work with a squad of them or an entire company; however, within that group of soldiers you’ll notice a few surprising personalities that will easily stick out.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Photo by Master Sgt. Ann Bennett)

 

The English-speaker

Even though English-speaking Afghan soldiers are rare, you can usually find one or two of them out and about. Many of the troops who speak our language aren’t typically native to the front lines. Most come from a larger city like Kabul, where they went to school.

They probably aren’t fluent, but they can hold their own during a conversation.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

The ones who don’t want to listen

Unfortunately, many of the troops didn’t join to fight to help regain control of their country. They did it to earn some cash for their family, which we can respect. Now, because of their lack of patriotism, those guys are less likely to give a sh*t when a firefight breaks out or when one of their Afghan troops gets injured. Their brotherhood isn’t nearly as strong as ours becomes.

Most notably, they don’t listen to allied forces when it comes to making important suggestions because they flat out don’t want to hear what we have to say.

It gets annoying.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder)

 

The one who legitimately cares

In contrast to number two on this list, this soldier does give a f*ck and wants to do his part. He takes initiative and wants to become a better soldier.

Unfortunately, in our experience, these motivators don’t stay around long. They end up getting promoted and leaving their frontline duties. It’s a bummer.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Photo by Gunnery Sgt. William Price)

 

The trigger happy one

This guy is cool in his own right but he is unpredictable. You aren’t quite sure when he will open fire. But rest assured, he will squeeze that trigger when the time comes.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Photo by John Scott Rafoss)

 

The one you’re convinced is a bad guy

It’s hard not to stereotype Afghan soldiers, especially when there have been documented times when friendly fire has broken out between them and us. Because of that, it’s hard to build trust. The truth is, it’s not unrealistic to suspect that the Taliban has infiltrated the Afghan National Army.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Photo by Spc. Theodore Schmidt)
 

The Afghan soldiers who are rarely ready-to-go

99.9 percent of the time, U.S. troops are ready for patrol once they step outside the wire. In contrast, many Afghan troops aren’t well-trained and therefore sometimes forget to bring specific gear or familiarize themselves with the mission route.

It’s annoying, but that’s the world we live in these days.

The most important thing when working with any foreign military is to reach across the divide and get to know the men and women who share your mission. Building trust is key.

Military Life

This is why players in the Army-Navy Game learn to sing their rival’s alma mater

No matter what the outcome of the annual Army-Navy Game, the day always ends the same way. The winning team turns to face the stands with the fans of the defeated team and sing the “enemy” alma mater – a tradition known as “Honoring the Fallen.”


The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

That’s not happening at the end of the Red River Shootout, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, or even the Holy War. No way. But it happens at the end of the Army-Navy Game.

The beginning of the game features a glee club made up of both Cadets and Midshipmen singing the national anthem, a reminder that in the end, all the young officers-to-be are playing for the United States. That team spirit show through when it’s time to Honor the Fallen.

“Honoring the Fallen” actually features both teams. First they sing to the defeated fans, then to the victorious fans. This would never happen anywhere else in college football. Not that other teams aren’t good sports or that they’re sore losers. The Army-Navy tradition is about more than the rivalry, it’s about a mutual respect that goes beyond their ability to play football.

Army and Navy are playing for the same team. Sooner or later, they may meet each other on a different field: the battlefield. Where else in college football does a team of 20-somethings need to prepare for that kind of meeting?

Few traditions in life are as touching as two intense rivals coming together in a show of esprit de corps like Army Cadets and Navy Midshipmen do every yer.

Game on: The ‘Prisoner Exchange’ is the coolest Army-Navy tradition no one talks about

That doesn’t mean they all want to sing their alma mater first. In an effort to break Navy’s winning streak, the 2011 Army team sewed “Sing Second” in the inside of their uniforms. Singing second means the Army wins the game.

Maybe Wolverines fans should learn Carmen Ohio and Buckeyes fans should learn The Yellow and Blue.

But I’m not counting on it.

Military Life

5 civilian jobs that have military camaraderie

If you’ve ever served in the military then you’re aware of how much camaraderie can be built between a group of people. If you never donned a U.S. military uniform, then we assure you that the brotherhood we form while we serve is a nearly unbreakable bond.

For many of us that left the service, we lose that sense of camaraderie as we move on in life and into alternative careers. Although the thought of regaining that special relationship we once held in the military in another field might seem unlikely, there are a few careers that that continue with the family-like tradition.


The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Three Guardsmen graduate from the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Basic Training academy for law enforcement officers in Richmond, Ky, 2017.
(Kentucky National Guard photo by Stacy Floden)

 

Law enforcement is full of camaraderie

This one was pretty obvious, right? Since the military teaches us weaponry and strict discipline, law enforcement fits that mold. Although it didn’t make the list solely for that factor, it’s on here because law enforcement officers face challenging times as a team.

The experience of watching your brothers’ and sisters’ backs is how rough situations eventually get resolved — and a sure way to bond with someone.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Photo by Erinys)

 

Security contractors

Security contractors are known to deploy all over the world to provide safe-keeping solutions for a variety of clients. Many of these guys come from a military background and their specialized training proves it.

Because of their experience, the camaraderie aspect tends to follow them in their new team environment.

A military publication

To provide authentic entertainment, many of the content creators at the various military and veteran publications companies are prior service — which most people probably already knew.

What you probably didn’t know is working at a place like We Are The Mighty is similar to living in the barracks. We talk sh*t to one another, drink alcohol during our brainstorming sessions, and pull for one another when we have to.

You might be out of the military, but the community and sense of military camaraderie is still around.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Minor League Baseball team the Hartford Yard Goats

 

Sports- the most fun way to rediscover camaraderie

Sports are a low-risk “us vs. them” scenario — bonding with teammates is natural (and ideal). Athletes win and lose with their team, they face injuries, and they also understand how competitive the system is on a personal level just ask someone who has been non-voluntarily retired.

The stakes aren’t as high as they are in the military, but if it’s a team you’re looking for, sports are a good place to start.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Firefighters Andrew Brammer (right) and Bobby Calder (left) from contractor Wackenhut Fire and Emergency Service replace their oxygen tanks while fighting a fire at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq.
(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

 

Firefighting

Firefighters are simply outstanding. They are the heroes of the community and will strap on their heavy equipment to save someone from a burning building without thinking twice. Due to the dangerous nature of their work, members of their team become more than just co-workers, but family.

They have to trust one another to get the job done so everyone can go home safe. It’s one of the occupations that comes as close to having that life-and-death camaraderie as the military.

popular

This is why Corpsmen are better than Medics

“Pecker Checker,” “Silver Bullet Bandit,” and “Devil Doc” are just a few of the names to describe the most decorated rate in the U.S. Navy — the Hospital Corpsman.


We don’t like being called “medics” — if we wanted that title we would have joined the Army (shots fired).

With all that said, the military is known for its rivalry as each branch’s medical department wants to be defined as being the most dominant force. Although there will never be a clear winner, competing for the title is the fun part.

 

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

We could brag all day about having the most Medal of Honor recipients, but that just wouldn’t be dignified. So here’s proof that the rate of Hospital Corpsman is the sh*t. Come at me.

Related: 5 key differences between Army medics and Navy corpsmen

Our awesome history is better

Back in the day, we were referred to as Surgeon’s Mates, Apothecary, and Loblolly Boy, among a few others. But it wasn’t until June 17, 1898, when President William McKinley signed an act of Congress that created the Navy Hospital Corps, which allowed enlisted personnel to assist surgeons with the wounded on the battlefield.

It was the Corpsman’s job to keep the irons hot while assisting the doctors with cauterizing patient’s limbs after amputation, as well as keeping buckets of sand at the ready to help the medical staff from slipping on the floor from all those massive bleeds.

Since those days, Corpsmen served right alongside the Marine Corps, fighting and patching them up; and that tradition has carried on through the eras as they continue to earn each others’ respect.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

Just some of the different types of Corpsman

With all the many types of Corpsmen out there these days, let’s start from the beginning.

In the modern era, the basic Hospital Corpsman earns the NEC “quad zero” or “0000” rating when they graduate from A-school, and can either head right out to the fleet or get additional orders for more specialized training called “C-schools.”

Some Corpsmen will go on to become laboratory techs, dental techs, or attend one of two the Field Medical Training Battalions.

Also known as field med, this tough training is a few steps down from Marine boot camp and is modified with medical classes catered to performing life-saving interventions in combat.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Corpsmen conduct a field exercise in a M.O.U.T. (Military Operation Urban Terrain).

In field med, Corpsmen learn basic patrolling tactics and infantry maneuvers that will help when they deploy to combat zones with their Marine platoons.

After Corpsmen graduate that program, they earn the NEC “8404,” or Field Medical Service Technician.

In some cases, Corpsmen can request additional schools if they qualify and decide to re-enlist at the end of their active contracts. Many Corpsmen at the pay grade of E-5 request to attend “Independent Duty Corpsman” or IDC school.

Remember when I told you we were better than Army medics? Here’s what I meant:

After completing training, Independent Duty Corpsmen are allowed to take care of patients, prescribe medications and perform minor surgical procedures without the presence of a medical officer.

No Army enlisted personnel can do that. Write that down.

Unfortunately, with all the valuable training IDC’s go through, when they exit the Navy, they can take the knowledge with them, but the accreditation doesn’t transfer over to the civilian world. Bummer.

Also Read: 6 things corpsmen should know before going to the ‘Greenside’

We’re not Marines, but we’re often seen that way

It’s official; Corpsmen are not Marines — we’re sailors.

Because most of us have served at one time or another on the Marine side of the house, also known as the “Greenside,” many confuse us with Marines due to our stature and uniform.

The truth is, we don’t mind this because of the brotherly bond we’ve earned. If we’ve taken good care of our Marines, that bond will stretch far beyond our years of military service.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
An (FMF) Corpsman takes a look at his patient during sick call.

The FMF Corpsman

FMF stands for Fleet Marine Force.

Corpsmen can earn this pin after studying their asses off and answer a sh*t ton of questions about Marine knowledge.

It’s a lot to learn and can take a year to scratch the surface of everything you need to know. In some cases, Corpsmen end up learning more facts about the Marine Corps than Marines.

Plus, if you do receive the honor of getting pinned, it’ll make you look cool in front of your platoon.

It’s also a common practice that you pass down your FMF pin to an up and coming Corpsman who appears to have a promising career.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
The Fleet Marine Force Warfare pin. Semper Fi.

There are three different types of FMF pins and they all look the same. The Marine Air Wing, Logistic Group, and Division (infantry) all have different knowledge the Corpsman is tested on to earn the plaque.

The Division pin tends to be harder to earn since infantry Corpsmen spend a lot of time in the field without much time to study.

Another impressive aspect of being a Greenside Corpsman is that you’re entitled to wear most of the Marine uniforms except their legendary dress blues — provided you sign a “Page 2” document saying you’ll abide by all Marine Corps regulations.

This includes all uniform inspections and annual exercise tests.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

The modified Corpsman dress uniform. That’s badass, Chief — look at the freakin’ stack!

Watch the Corpsman tribute video below, and brothers, stay safe out there. We salute your hard work and dedicated to the Corps.

(USMARINE4545, YouTube)

Military Life

This was the first woman in the Iraq War to earn a Silver Star

The Silver Star is currently the third-highest award for valor in combat. The decoration is given to those that exhibit exemplary courage in the face of the enemy. For reference, there are only three women in history that have garnered the honor. The first woman since WWII to earn this prestigious medal did so by directly engaging in combat with the enemy.


The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Above, a photo of Sgt. Leigh Hester’s Silver Star (Photo by NPR)

When Army Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester joined the military in 2001, neither she nor anyone else would have guessed that she would be the second woman to be awarded the Silver Star. Hester was assigned to 617th Military Police Company, National Guard, Richmond, KY. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, happened right before Hester was shipped off to basic training. Soon after Hester completed training in 2004, she deployed to Iraq.

Hester and her team ran convoys to clear an area of IEDs and ensure safe passage. According to the Pentagon’s policy, women are not allowed to be assigned to units where their primary mission is to “engage in direct combat on the ground.” Even though women, at the time, were banned from combat positions, some engaged in and witnessed combat. Hester’s experience proves that everyone has the possibility of engaging in combat.

On one particular convoy, in Baghdad, the Humvee ahead of Hester was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. Explosions and gunshots rang out while Hester followed her squad leader, Sgt. Timothy Nein, as they positioned themselves in front of a trench and fired back. After 45 minutes of taking enemy fire, the ordeal had ended.

Although three of Hester’s team members were injured, all of them survived the firefight. Hester and Nein received Silver Stars for their actions that saved their whole squad from insurgent attack.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Sgt. Leigh Hester holds up her Silver Star.

Women are still gaining ground in the arena of combat positions, and Hester wants to be clear that her actions had nothing to do with her sex. She states, “I’m honored to even be considered, much less awarded, the medal,” Hester told the American Forces Press Service. “It really doesn’t have anything to do with being a female. It’s about the duties I performed that day as a soldier.”

Articles

This is what happens to military working dogs after retirement

After about ten to twelve years, it’s usually time for a military working dog (MWD) to retire.


Unlike us, they don’t get out and start celebrating life immediately. Hundreds of them are sent to Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas every year. Before November 2000, most of the dogs were euthanized or just left in the battlefield troops just left (because despite the rank and funeral honors, they’re listed as equipment).

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Military Working Dog Ttoby, 23d Security Forces Squadron, prepares for an MWD demonstration, Feb. 2, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Ttoby is a Belgian Malinois and specializes in personnel protection and detecting explosives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf)

Thankfully, “Robby’s Law” opens up adoption to their former handlers, law enforcement, and civilian families.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Five puppies cloned from Trakr, a German shepherd, who made headlines by rescuing victims from the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, mug for cameras. (Yonhap News photo)

When a dog is retired out, it is usually because of injury or sickness and the best person to care for the puppy is the handler. More than 90% of these good dogs get adopted by their handler. Makes sense — calling a military working dog your “battle buddy” seems less awkward when the context is with a Labrador Retriever.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Senior Airman Jordan Crouse pets his MWD Hector during a patrol dog certification qualification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mozer O. Da Cunha)

Next on the order of precedent in MWD adoption is law enforcement. Their services would be invaluable within police forces because they are trained to do exactly when the police would need them to do. However, the dogs are contractually agreed to belong to the department. They are the only ones allowed to allow the dogs to perform patrol, security, or substance detection work and the DoD has strict restrictions otherwise.

Sadly, even the police force won’t take the rest of the military working dogs because of their age or injury. This is where civilians come in. Bare in mind, adoption isn’t a quick process and applicants are carefully screened. It may take about a year on the waiting list to get your first interview.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(Official Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Margaret Gale)

They are not some goofy pug you can just adopt and take home. These dogs have usually deployed and show the same symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress. These dogs were trained to sniff out roadside bombs and to fight the Taliban and now have trouble socializing with other dogs and aren’t as playful as they were before.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ramon A. Adelan)

The MWD selection process demands that the most energetic and playful puppies are needed for combat. After years of fighting, these old dogs show signs of nervous exhaustion and distress. If that pulls at your heart strings because it hits close to home, it is scientifically proven that dogs (including these MWDs) can aid and benefit those with Post Traumatic Stress.

Related: A dog’s love can cure anything – including PTSD

If you don’t mind the wait, have an appropriate living space for a large dog, and are willing to aid these four legged veterans, there are organizations that can help. Save-A-Vet and Mission K9 Rescue are great places to start.

Military Life

7 tips and tricks to make the most out of your DITY move

If you’re in the military, you’re going to move. It’s a fact of military life. Uprooting your life can be hard enough without government paid movers breaking all of your stuff. Yes, you can file claims for damaged goods and get reimbursed, but did you know that there’s a way to make some money and ensure your stuff gets to your next base intact? After all, if you want a job done right, do it yourself.

That’s right, you can choose to perform a Do It Yourself move. A DITY will earn you an incentive payment of up to 95% of what it would otherwise cost the government to move you and your stuff. Here are some tips and tricks to help ensure you have a smooth move to your next base.

1. Overkill is underrated

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Still a better ride than a Humvee (Uhaul)

Not sure what size truck to rent? Get the biggest one. The last headache you need while packing up your life is finding out that not everything will fit in the moving truck. Remember, you get reimbursed for the cost of rentals. As long as you feel comfortable driving it, go all out with that 26-footer. Once you get it out on the road, it’s really not that bad. Just be sure to use your mirrors.

2. Buy all the moving supplies

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
(military.com)

Boxes? Buy a ton. Tape? That’s not enough. Bubble wrap? Just take it all. With a similar mindset to the truck, a shortage of moving supplies while packing your place up is always an unwelcome surprise. Yes, you can always go out and buy more if you’re short, and you should. But that will cut into your moving time and when it comes to out-processing, time is so rarely on your side. Consumable materials like these are also reimbursed by Uncle Sam, so have plenty on hand. Plus, most major moving suppliers will allow you to return excess supplies. You’re covered either way.

3. You don’t have to do it all yourself

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Pizza is a great incentive (U.S. Army)

Willing to shell out for some pizza and drinks? Enlist the aid of some buddies to help you pack the truck. The military is a team environment and that includes help with moving. Plus it gives everyone a chance to hang out and say goodbye. Maybe you just have a few odd and/or heavy pieces of furniture that won’t fit in a moving truck (see tip #1 first). You can opt to do a partial DITY. That is, have the government move those difficult items free of charge and move everything else yourself. If the government movers get to the next place before you, no worries. The government authorizes up to 90 days of temporary storage at the receiving location. Just call to schedule a more convenient delivery day and time.

4. Stock up

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Yes, motorcycles count toward the weight of your household goods (U.S. Army)

The government will pay you based on the weight that you move and the distance that you move it. The more you pack the truck, the more money you get. Now, I’m not saying to cram it full of rocks or water barrels. That’s called fraud and will land you in some hot water. But what about that home gym set you’ve been eyeing? Or the motorcycle you’ve been meaning to treat yourself to. Heck, your cat always needs more litter, right? Better to get those things at your current base and move with them than get them at your next base and miss out on moving that weight. It’s also worth noting that it’s to your advantage to weigh the truck full with a full tank of gas too.

5. Save your receipts

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Those receipts are literally your money (U.S. Air Force)

If you’ve been in the military for a minute, you know that if it’s not on paper, it didn’t happen. The government will reimburse you based on the receipts of your expenses. That Uhaul rental receipt that you got in your email? Save it. The rope that you bought at Home Depot to tie stuff down in the truck? Save that receipt too. The gas pump won’t print you a receipt from your fill-up? You’d better go into the gas station and politely ask for your receipt, because a picture on your phone of the pump’s screen won’t do it.

6. Take the toll

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Hopefully your drive looks better than this (USDot)

On a weekend trip, that $5 toll to shave off 20 minutes might not be worth it. But if you’re cruising the highway all day for a few days straight to get to your next base on time, the toll road is worth the cost. Plus, the cost of those tolls can be reimbursed too. Just be sure to keep a record of what tolls you take so that you can claim them on your travel voucher. Receipts aren’t required unless it exceeds $75. Make your life easier and have some change and small bills on hand.

7. Know what doesn’t count

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Sorry, your Camaro doesn’t count for weight (Uhaul)

Unfortunately, not every DITY expense is reimbursed. While the cost of a truck rental is covered, the cost of an auto trailer rental is not. Moreover, the weight of an auto trailer and the car being towed on it cannot count towards your total move weight. Likewise, any optional insurance you purchase to cover rental equipment is not eligible for reimbursement. Although consumable moving materials like boxes and tape can be reimbursed, certain items like ratchet straps and padlocks are not considered consumables. Finally, Uncle Sam only reimburses the actual cost of rentals, supplies, and gas. Any sales tax paid on top will not be reimbursed.

Military Life

Navy recruits now test their fitness before shipping out

Enlisting in the Navy is about to get a bit more challenging.


On Nov. 15, the service announced it is creating an initial fitness test for prospective sailors on their first day of boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, male recruits must complete a one-and-a-half-mile run within 16 minutes, 10 seconds, and female recruits must complete the same run within 18 minutes, seven seconds.

If recruits can’t pass the test, they won’t move on to training.

Also read: The complete hater’s guide to the US Navy

The Navy is the only military service that until now has never had an initial test of fitness prior to recruit training, Lt. Sean Brophy, a spokesman for Naval Service Training Command, told Military.com.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participate in the run portion of the physical readiness test. Nimitz is pierside at its homeport of Naval Station Everett. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eli K. Buguey)

“It’s an effort to raise the bar and develop tough, more qualified sailors during basic military training to increase the lethality of the fleet overall,” he said.

The change was implemented after Rear Adm. Mike Bernacchi, commander of Naval Service Training Command, realized with surprise that the Navy, alone among the services, lacked an entry-level physical standard, an official with knowledge of the process told Military.com.

According to a Navy announcement, recruits who don’t make the minimum run time for the new test on first attempt can take the test again within 48 hours. If they still can’t pass the test, they will be discharged with an entry-level separation.

That form of discharge allows prospective recruits to obtain a waiver from Navy Recruiting Command and apply again for enlistment if they wish to do so.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
Navy is the only military service that until now has never had an initial test of fitness prior to recruit training. (Photo from US Navy)

While the new standard may keep some people out, it’s pretty lenient compared with the other services.

In the Marine Corps, the initial strength test includes pull-ups, sit-ups, ammo can lifts, and a one-and-a-half-mile run. For male recruits, the run must be completed in 13 minutes, 30 seconds. Female recruits have 15 minutes to finish.

The Air Force requires new recruits to complete a run of the same distance in a recommended 13 minutes, 45 seconds for men and 16 minutes, one second for women. Push-ups and sit-ups are also included in the test.

Read Also: 7 military fitness tricks for working out without a lot of fancy gear

The Army, which also requires push-ups and sit-ups, has prospective enlistees complete a one-mile run before they start training. Men have 8 minutes, 30 seconds for the run, while women have 10 minutes, 30 seconds.

Brophy said the Navy’s standard for its new initial fitness test is based on a calculation of where recruits need to start in fitness to make a satisfactory medium, or passing, score on the physical readiness test administered at the end of boot camp.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
US Navy recruits graduate, June 30, 2017. (Photo from US Navy)

“If recruits push themselves through eight weeks of boot camp, there’s a 98 percent chance we can get them to the satisfactory medium,” he said.

While challenges with meeting military recruitment quotas have prompted some services to rethink their entry standards and requirements, Brophy said officials expect this change to produce more qualified enlistees, rather than cutting into the eligible recruitment pool.

“We expect attrition due to [physical fitness assessment] failures to drop,” he said.

And along with the challenge posed by the new test comes an incentive.

Recruits who achieve an “outstanding high” score on their final physical fitness assessment will be meritoriously advanced to the next rank when they graduate boot camp, officials said.

Articles

These are the Air Force medics trained for special ops

Everyone knows about the famous 4077th MASH, or Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. But if you ever wanted to see the kind of docs that Michael Bay or Jerry Buckheimer would do a movie about, look at the Air Force’s Special Operations Surgical Teams, or SOSTs.


According to the U.S. Army, a MASH unit usually had about 113 people, while a 2006 Army release about the last MASH becoming a Combat Support Hospital, or CSH, notes that the CSH has about 250 personnel.

According to the Air Force web site, the SOST is much smaller. It has six people: an ER doctor, a general surgeon, a nurse anesthetist, a critical care nurse, a respiratory therapist, and a surgical technician.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
This is a typical Combat Support Hospital. (DOD photo)

The MASH and CSH have trucks and vehicles to deliver their stuff. SOSTs only have what they can carry in on their backs. Oh, did I mention they are also tactically trained? Yep, a member of a SOST can put lead into a bad guy, then provide medical care for the good guys who got hit.

In one Air Force Special Operations Command release, what one such team did while engaged in the fight against ISIS is nothing short of amazing. They treated victims who were suffering from the effects of ISIS chemical weapon attacks, handled 19 mass casualty attacks, and carried out 16 life-saving surgical operations. A total of 750 patients were treated by these docs over an eight-week deployment.

Again, this was with just what they carried on their backs.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
U.S. Air Force photo

At one point, the team was treating casualties when mortar rounds impacted about 250 meters away. The six members of the team donned their body armor, got their weapons ready, and went back to work. Maj. Nelson Pacheco, Capt. Cade Reedy, Lt. Col. Ben Mitchell, Lt. Col. Matthew Uber, Tech. Sgt. Richard Holguin, and Maj. Justin Manley are all up for Bronze Stars for their actions.

It takes a lot to get into a SOST. You can download the application here. One thing for sure, these are the most badass folks with medical degrees!

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.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
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.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit
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.

Military Life

4 reasons why troops need to be a little salty

Parents tend to teach their kids that kindness is one of the greatest traits a human can exhibit. When those kids eventually join the military, they’ll learn that they need to drop the niceties before too long.

Troops should show a general politeness toward their peers — after all, the military wouldn’t function if everyone was truly spiteful toward one another. We’d never recommend that you treat others like dirt, but every service member must obtain a certain level of saltiness in order to get through their career.


In a way, military life is the reversal of civilian norms. In the military, kindness is negatively received; being assertive and salty is the only way to get what you want. We’re not saying this is bad or good — it’s just the weird life that troops live.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help others out.

(Photo by Spc. L’Erin Wynn)

Your kindness will be perceived as weakness

Before any of this gets twisted, kindness isn’t a weakness and showing genuine empathy toward your fellow troop isn’t going to kill you. In fact, showing your brothers- and sisters-in-arms compassion will take you far and may save a life some day.

However, the harsh reality is that there are no brakes on the military train. Slowing down for others and offering a helping hand isn’t always smiled upon. When you pause to help someone who’s stalled, in the eyes of many, there are now two impediments.

It’s not an pleasant circumstance, but that’s how life in the military goes.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

(Photo by Staff Sgt. R.J. Lannom)

Your kindness will get pushed to the limits

There’s another side to the compassion coin. Offer your help too readily and others will take advantage. One favor leads to three. “Hey, can you get me…” quickly turns into, “you don’t mind, do you?”

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any toxic leadership in the military. Everyone would take unit morale into consideration, do their part, and ensure tasks are completed on schedule. Unfortunately, when people find it easier to get someone else to their job, they’ll take that road.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

But they’re not mutually exclusive in combat situations.

(Photo by Cpl. Darien J. Bjorndal)

Your saltiness will get things done

Aggression and anger are not essential traits of great leaders. A first sergeant who never yells still commands the same respect as a first sergeant who barks at everyone. It is entirely possible to be assertive and state your intentions to others without shouting.

…but most people won’t see it that way. The moment you raise your voice, people listen. If you’re of a lower rank, people will assume you’re ready for a leadership position — in actuality, yelling and true leadership skills are apples and oranges.

The 4 unwritten rules of joining a new unit

Troops will rarely give an honest answer if their first sergeant asks them how are they doing, even if it’s meant sincerely.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

Your saltiness won’t ever get questioned

Being nice will cause everyone to question your motives. Other troops will think you’re up to something, trying to work them over. Conversely, there’re almost no repercussions for being a dick to everyone.

The higher your rank, the less people will wonder why you’re grouchy. Everyone just accepts it as normal, everyday life. Niceties at that rank set off alarms in the lower ranks or just confuse everyone.

Articles

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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