Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training - We Are The Mighty
Military Life

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

After my daughter was born, I didn’t sleep much. I thought to myself, when was the last time I had this little sleep? Basic training, of course. As I thought about it further, there are a lot of comparisons between basic training and being a parent to a newborn or infant. Here are nine tips and takeaways I learned from basic training and how they apply to parenthood.

  1. You don’t sleep anymore. In Basic, we slept for about five, maybe six, hours a night. We would go to sleep at 11 o’clock and be woken up around 4-something. When I finished Basic, I slept for about 18 hours a day for three days. With a newborn, anyone who is a parent or knows a parent knows that you’re lucky to get four-to-five hours of sleep a night. The only issue is, you never really have a chance to catch up.
  2. You have to eat fast. In Basic, we were given seven minutes to eat our entire meal. We could take as much food as we wanted, but we had to eat it all in that time frame. Once your seven minutes was up, you had to run back outside and wait for the next item on the agenda. With a newborn, you have to eat quickly (and in most cases separately from your spouse), before the kiddo needs something. Eating together with a quiet child is a luxury.
  3. You don’t remember the last time you showered. In Basic, we had a finite amount of time after physical training and breakfast to clean our rooms, make our beds, shower, shave, etc. In most cases, you skipped a shower because that was the one thing that wasn’t mandated. After a few days, you had a hard time remembering the last time you cleaned yourself. With a newborn, you get spit on, pooped on, and peed on so much that you just stop caring about your own personal hygiene, in many cases not remembering the last time you showered.
  4. The bathroom is your only solace. In Basic, after we ate, we stood in formation outside the dining hall to wait for everyone in our squadron to finish. As we were waiting, we had an opportunity to use a Porta-Potty. Even if you didn’t have to go number one or number two, you still waited in line and when it was your turn, just sat inside, took your hat off and took a minute to yourself. It was the only time the staff weren’t yelling at you. With a newborn, the only real “alone” time you have is in the bathroom. Speaking of yelling…
  5. You get screamed at for seemingly no reason. In Basic, I remember a time when I had three staff members screaming in my face because the bottles of sunscreen for our team weren’t all the same brand (and no, they didn’t have to be). With a newborn, your kiddo can cry and scream at you for any number of reasons: hungry, soiled diaper, in an uncomfortable position, gassy, tired, scratched herself, startled, just wanting to be held, or…for no reason at all.
  6. Exercise becomes more of a chore than something you enjoy. In Basic, we had physical training at least twice per day, but it wasn’t fun, it was push-ups, and sit-ups, and running, and all of those calisthenic-type exercises. With a newborn, it is still important to exercise, but because your time is limited and you know you need to do it for your health and mental sanity, it becomes more of a chore and check-box rather than something you an relax and enjoy fully.
  7. Your teammates are key. In Basic, it is critical to have the support of your squad members. They can cover for you or throw you under the bus. With a newborn, having your support network of your spouse, family, and friends is necessary to help keep you sane, give you breaks when you need, and support you through tough times.
  8. Nothing can truly prepare you for what is about to happen. In Basic, we were told to memorize a book called the “Field Training Manual” before we got there. The book explained how everything needed to be done, everything from making a bed to how your locker needed to look to how to properly lace your boots. If you read the book, you thought, hey, I’m in a good place to be successful. In reality, it didn’t go so easily, as the “rules” in the book didn’t necessarily translate well to the actual experiences. With a newborn, you can read all the books in the world (I read only two), but once that child arrives, you just try to figure it out as best you can. There’s no answer other than to just keep your kid alive and get her fed so she can grow to the point where she can sleep through the night and maybe you can, too.
  9. It’s the most fun you have you never want to have again. In Basic, during the heart of it, it’s terrible. Some things can be fun, but overall, it’s a pretty miserable experience. That said, by the time it’s over, you think to yourself, that wasn’t so bad, I could probably do it again. With a newborn, when you’re up at 3 a.m. with a child you can’t seem to console, you think to yourself, this is a pretty miserable experience. But by the time the kid grows a few months, starts sleeping through the night, and acting a little more human, you think, that wasn’t so bad, I could probably do it again. And you do, because your wife wants a second kid.

Parker Schaffel is a former CIA officer, former Navy Reserve intelligence officer, and the author of Get After It: Seven Inspirational Stories to Find Your Inner Strength When It Matters Most. The book’s stories and lessons from Parker’s experiences are particularly valuable and helpful for junior servicemembers who want to achieve great things. It is available in eBook, soft cover, and audiobook on Amazon.

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7 life lessons we learned from the grunts in ‘Platoon’

With so many war movies out there to choose from, not many come from the direct perspective of a man who personally lived through the hell that was Vietnam.


Critically acclaimed writer-director Oliver Stone (an Army veteran) took audiences into the highly political time in American history where the war efforts of our service men and women were predominantly overlooked as they returned home.

The son of a successful stockbroker, Stone dropped out of Yale in the 60s and joined the Army, becoming one of the first American troops to arrive in Vietnam.

Related: 7 life lessons we learned from watching ‘Full Metal Jacket’

Here’s what he taught us:

1. Respect is only earned, never issued.

Chris Taylor, played by Charlie Sheen, just landed in the “Nam” with a fresh shave and a stainless uniform. Before saying a word to anyone, he was automatically picked apart by war-harden soldiers passing by.

In war and in life, it doesn’t matter how you start the game — it’s how you finish it.

“Welcome to the suck, boot.” (Image via Giphy)

2. You have to keep up

Being in the infantry is one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs ever. You don’t have to be the strongest or the fastest, but you need to pull your own weight…literally.

Move it! Move it!  Move it! (Image via Giphy)

3. Staying positive

In the eyes of a “newbie,” the world can seem and feel like one big sh*t show — especially if you’re burning a barrel of sh*t with diesel fuel.

Finding new ways to approach a bad situation can boost morale — especially when you have a lot of time left in the bush.

Negativity can get you hurt, positivity can get you through it. (Image via Giphy)

4. We’re all the same

Regardless of what your race, religion, or education level — when it comes down to being a soldier in a dangerous combat zone, none of those aspects means a thing.

Preach! (image via Giphy)

5. Never quit

Sgt. Elias, by played Willem Dafoe, was intentionally left behind by Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) with the hope the V.C. would kill him off.

Although Elias struggled to stay in the fight, after taking several AK-47’s rounds, he showed the world he’s truly a warrior.

His back must have been killing him. (Image via Giphy)

6. War changes a man

The bright-eyed bushy-tailed boy that showed up in the beginning isn’t the thousand yard staring man who stands in front of you now.

Kill! (image via Giphy)

Also Read: 7 life lessons we learned from Gunny Highway in ‘Heartbreak Ridge’

7. Brotherhood

When you break into the circle of brotherhood, there’s no better feeling.

Safe travels. (Image via Giphy)To all of our Vietnam war veterans, everyone at We Are The Mighty salutes you.

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NASA astronauts train with Air Force survival school instructors

Four NASA astronauts trained with U.S. Air Force Survival School instructors in water survival and recovery at the fitness center pool [at Fairchild AFB, Washington].


Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Four NASA astronauts sit in with a class of survival school students being briefed on life raft procedures at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Feb. 10, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey)

Four NASA astronauts sit in with a class of survival school students being briefed on life raft procedures at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Feb. 10, 2017. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan Lackey

The astronauts underwent the training in preparation for anticipated test flights of the new commercially made American rockets, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the SpaceX Dragon.

Also read: This is what it’s like to feel zero G aboard NASA’s ‘Vomit Comet’

“It’s a different space program now,” said astronaut Sunita Williams. “We’re flying in capsules instead of shuttles, and they can land anywhere. You never know when an emergency situation may happen, so we’re grateful to get this training.”

The astronauts were put through the paces of bailing out from a simulated crash landing in water. They learned to deploy and secure a life raft, rescue endangered crew members, avoid hostile forces and experience being hoisted into a rescue vehicle.

“This is the first time we’ve gotten a complete environmental training experience — lots of wind, waves and rain,” said astronaut Doug Hurley. “This is a great way to experience how bad it can get and how important it is to be prepared.”

Trained With Course’s Students

The astronauts opted to join in with more than 20 water survival course students, despite being given the option to train alone.

“They didn’t want to train on their own,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Chas Tacheny, the chief of NASA human space flight support in Houston. “They wanted to train with the group, because some of these people may one day be preforming search and rescue for them.”

Other NASA astronauts visited the survival school last year in an effort to research and test the viability of its training course and facilities. The astronauts liked what they experienced, and NASA has since developed its training partnership with the schoolhouse.

“The [survival, evasion, resistance and escape] instructors are advising us in water recovery,” Behnken said. “These experts are the most experienced I’ve ever seen. They are able to spot holes in our training and fill the gaps.”

NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston has a large water training facility built to simulate weightless conditions during space walks, but it’s not properly equipped to simulate water surface conditions for recovery training.

This training is vital for future mission recovery operations, Behnken said, noting that NASA officials are working with the experts here to replicate the survival school water survival training equipment at the Houston facility.

Impressive Facilities

“I’m impressed by the use of the facilities here,” Williams said. “It’s a small space, but they really manage to simulate all kinds of weather conditions and situations we might experience during a water landing.”

The survival school originally had a separate detachment at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, where it conducted water survival training in open ocean waters. The training was brought to Fairchild in August 2015 in an effort to save time and money by consolidating training at one location.

“It was a good decision for the Air Force to streamline our training efforts by moving all portions of water survival training here,” said Air Force Col. John Groves, the 336th Training Group commander. “However, the fitness center pool was designed for recreational use and isn’t suited to the ever-increasing demands placed on it by our training programs. Bottom line, we owe it to our airmen and mission partners such as NASA, who rely on our unique training capabilities, to have a purpose-built water survival training facility.”

Articles

This is what jail is like on an aircraft carrier

Most sailors who go out on deployment don’t get into trouble. Others may find themselves on the wrong side of the shore patrol, though. Much of that can be minor, and is usually addressed with a loss of pay, or placing a sailor on restriction. But in some cases, that sailor needs to be confined.


Now, when you’re deployed to the Middle East, Mediterranean, or some other hot spot, it’s hard to ship the guy (or gal) back to the States to lock them up. So, on carriers and other large ships, the jail is brought with them – and it’s called the brig.

And in case you think that an upcoming battle earns some leeway for misbehavior, you’d best keep in mind that heading towards a fight won’t keep a sailor from getting tossed in the brig. In the book “Miracle at Midway,” historian Gordon Prange related how Marc Mitscher, captain of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV 8), threw a couple of sailors in the brig for minor infractions prior to the Battle of Midway.

In many cases where that is necessary, the sailors are sent to the brig after what is known as a “Captain’s Mast,” which is covered under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. According to Naval Orientation, the amount of time someone may be confined is limited. The exact limits depend on the rank of the commanding officer and the rank of the accused. The chart below from the linked manual explains those limits.

 

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(Scanned from US Navy publication)

The video clip below is from the 2008 documentary mini-series “Carrier,” produced by Mel Gibson’s production company. It provides a tour of the brig on the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as it was in 2005.

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Military applicants will now take same drug tests as active duty members

Drug testing for all applicants for military service is expanding to include the same 26-drug panel used for active military members, the Defense Department’s director of drug testing and program policy said.


The change, effective April 3, 2017, is due to the level of illicit and prescription medication abuse among civilians, as well as the increase in heroin and synthetic drug use within the civilian population, Army Col. Tom Martin explained.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Army Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commander, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, performs a ceremonial swearing-in of Delayed Entry Program enlistees at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Jan. 11, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by David Vergun)

Currently, military applicants are tested for marijuana; cocaine; amphetamines, including methamphetamine; and designer amphetamines such as MDMA —also known as “Molly” or “Ecstasy” — and MDA, also known as “Adam,” he said.

The expanded testing will include those drugs as well as heroin, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and a number of synthetic cannabinoids and benzodiazepine sedatives, Martin said.

Related: 13 hilarious urinalysis memes every troop will understand

The new standards apply to all military applicants, including recruits entering through military entrance processing stations, as well as appointees to the service academies, incoming members of the ROTC, and officer candidates undergoing initial training in an enlisted status.

Ensuring the Best Enter Military

With drug use incompatible with military service, the expanded testing is meant to ensure readiness by admitting only the most qualified people, Martin said. Incoming service members will be held to the same standards as current military members, who are subject to random drug testing up to three times a year, he added.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
It’s not like at the doc’s office. It’s so much more than that.

“Military applicants currently are tested on a small subset of drugs that military members are tested on,” Martin said. “Applicants need to be aware of the standard we hold our service members to when they join the service.”

About 279,400 applicants are processed for entry into military service each year, with roughly 2,400 of them testing positive for drugs, Martin said. Data indicates that about 450 additional people will test positive using the expanded testing, he said.

Policy Details

The updated policy allows applicants who test positive to reapply after 90 days, if the particular service allows it, Martin said. Any individual who tests positive on the second test is permanently disqualified from military service, he said, but he noted that the services have the discretion to apply stricter measures and can disqualify someone after one positive test.

Current policy allows for different standards for reapplication depending on the type of drug, Martin said. The updated policy is universal and allows only one opportunity to reapply for military service regardless of drug type, he said.

The update to Department of Defense Instruction 1010.16 was published Feb. 27.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

Articles

Here are the best military photos of the week

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:

Two Israeli F-35 “Adirs” fly in formation and display the U.S. and Israeli flags after receiving fuel from a Tennessee Air National Guard KC-135, Dec, 6, 2016. The U.S. and Israel have a military relationship built on trust developed through decades of cooperation.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Air Force photo by 1st Lt. Erik D. Anthony

Airmen, assigned to the 366th Fighter Wing, perform diagnostic checks on an F-15E Strike Eagle at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Dec. 3, 2016. Their particular F-15E was gearing up to deploy to the annual Checkered Flag exercise hosted by Tyndall AFB. Checkered Flag is a large-force exercise that gives a large number of legacy and fifth-generation aircraft the chance to practice combat training together in a simulated deployed environment.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Connor Marth

ARMY:

U.S. Soldiers assigned to Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division fire a M777 A2 Howitzer in support of Iraqi security forces at Platoon Assembly Area 14, Iraq, Dec. 7, 2016. Charlie Battery conducted the fire mission in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the global Coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht

Ukrainian Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 80th Airmobile Brigade fire a ZU-23-2 towed antiaircraft weapon before conducting an air assault mission in conjunction with a situational training exercise led by Soldiers from 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Nov. 28, 2016 at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center. This training is part of their 55-day rotation with the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine. JMTG-U is focused on helping to develop an enduring and sustainable training capacity within Ukraine.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr

NAVY:

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Dec. 11, 2016) Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexis Rey, from Stratford, Conn., conducts pre-flight checks on an EA-18G Growler assigned to the Zappers of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower, currently deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Kledzik

MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Dec. 10, 2016) Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Parrish, from Apopka, Fla., signals to the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Sidewinders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Eisenhower, currently deployed as part of the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard

MARINE CORPS:

A Marine participates in a field training exercise during Exercise Iron Sword 16 in Rukla Training Area, Lithuania, Nov. 29, 2016. Iron Sword is an annual, multinational defense exercise involving 11 NATO allies training to increase combined infantry capabilities and forge relationships.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kirstin Merrimarahajara

Combat cargo Marines grab a short nap in the well deck of USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) December 1, 2016 before the ship prepares to receive amphibious craft during Amphibious Ready Group, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise off the coast of Onslow Beach, North Carolina. The Marines worked nearly 20 hours the previous day on-loading and securing equipment and vehicles to Carter Hall. These Marines were assigned the combat cargo billet as a part of ship taxes and come from a myriad of military occupational specialties native to the Marine units aboard the ship.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Callahan

COAST GUARD:

An aircrew aboard a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., prepares to take the load of a 14,000 pound buoy that washed ashore just south of the entrance to Tillamook Bay, in Garibaldi, Ore., Dec. 12, 2016. The Army aircrew assisted the Coast Guard in recovering the beached buoy that normally marks the navigable channel into Tillamook Bay.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read

Coast Guard Cutter Munro crewmembers render honors to the national ensign during colors at an acceptance ceremony for the Munro on December 16, 2016 on the ship’s flight deck at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Travis Magee

Military Life

6 ways your combat instructors were worse than your DIs

Every Marine alive will talk about their drill instructors from boot camp because they’re they’re the ones who turned them into Marines. But you’ll rarely ever hear about their combat instructors, which is strange considering that the School of Infantry is much more difficult than boot camp.


You meet your combat instructors when you report to Camp Lejeune or Pendleton. The Marines bound for the infantry go to the Infantry Training Battalion and the POGs go to Marine Combat Training. Infantry Marines will, without exception, look back on this training as the worst they’ve experienced — and part of that is because of the instructors.

These are reasons why combat instructors are actually tougher than your drill instructors.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

You may want to listen up to what they’re trying to tell you.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery B. Martin)

They’re all combat veterans

Not all drill instructors are combat veterans. In fact, for some, the only Iraq or Afghanistan they saw was in pictures.

This is absolutely not the case with combat instructors. Alpha Company at the west coast SOI in 2013 had an instructor cadre with in which every single one had done multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

They’ll break you off but the key is to not quit.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley D. Gomez)

They don’t care about numbers

Drill instructors in boot camp will talk all day about how you can’t quit, but the truth is that you can — and plenty of people do. The fact is, drill instructors are out to keep as many recruits as they can.

Your combat instructors, on the other hand, will actively do everything they can to make your life a living hell to weed out the weaklings. Some slip through the cracks, but not many.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

The look in their eyes will tell you everything you need to know.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachery B. Martin)

They were all infantry Marines

To teach the next generation of grunts, you have to be one yourself. This makes them a lot scarier than a drill instructor who spent their entire career sitting behind a desk, eating hot meals three times a day. Infantry Marines live a life that revolves around the elimination of the enemy and breaking their things. They spend most of their day at least thinking about how to do this to the best of their ability.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

If you keep your mouth shut, you’ll probably make it through training.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lukas Kalinauskas)

They aren’t afraid to haze you

This never officially happens, but if you f*ck up at SOI, your combat instructor will make sure you pay for it accordingly. They’re training the next generation of hardened war fighters, so they have to know you can handle a few push-ups with a big rock on your back.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

You’ll just feel like you disappointed your dad who didn’t really like you to begin with.

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

They never had to use a frog voice

Combat Instructors rarely yell at people and that’s terrifying in its own right. But, when they do, they don’t change their voice to sound more intimidating — they know you’re already afraid of them, so they take advantage of that. They’ll yell at you at a lower volume and dismantle the fiber of your being.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

You laughed at it, don’t lie.

(U.S. Marine Corps)

They encourage others to join in on the berating

If a drill instructor is tearing someone apart and the platoon laughs at something they say, everyone might get punished. A combat instructor will use it to add to what they’re telling you. They practically encourage others to join in on the insulting.

At the end of the day, though, they’re trying to make sure you have what it takes to be an infantry Marine. This means you have to prove your physical and mental fortitude.

Articles

6 newbie boots you wouldn’t want in your infantry squad

Hollywood war movies are usually comprised of strong and versatile trope elements like the wise seasoned soldier, the good decision makers, and the flawed protagonist who needs a solid character arch before the credits roll.


There’s also the cast of characters that are considered the weaker links, or they’re just so naïve audiences sigh with relief when they die off.

So here’s our list of newbie boots we wouldn’t want taking point on patrol with us.

1. Conrad Vig (“3 Kings”)

He’s the funny, goofy guy who also talks too much and no one takes him seriously until you get annoyed by his presence.

Great movie, but bad karate kick. (Image via Giphy)

2. Corporal Upham (“Saving Private Ryan”)

He stops himself from saving a fellow brother because his fear got the best of him, but to add insult to injury, he gave up an easy kill shot and let the German soldier off the hook. Unacceptable!

Unfreaking believable. You had him, Upham! (Image via Giphy)

3. Gardner (“Platoon”)

We knew this over-weight character was going to perish sooner rather than later — no way his stature meets physical regs. No squad wants the guy who can’t hold his own weight — literally — on their team.

He ain’t gonna make it! (Image via Giphy)

Related: The 6 best Hollywood sniper shots ever

4. Norman Ellison (“Fury”)

Although this character wasn’t meant to be a “tanker”, the situation called for it. There’s nothing worse for an infantry squad than the guy who refuses to do his job — killing the enemy.

Good for nothing. (Image via Giphy)

5. Fergus O’Donnell (“Jarhead”)

He’s the Blue Falcon that managed to burn down a weapons cache when all he had to do is sit and listen to Christmas music.

The ultimate Blue Falcon (Image via Giphy)

6. Gomer Pyle (“Full Metal Jacket”)

Also known as Leonard Lawrence in the film, Pyle was hated by his fellow recruits and they held an awesome blanket party in his honor.

This poor bastard. (Image via Giphy)Can you think of any others? Comment below.

Military Life

7 tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors

So, you want to be a United States Marine Corps Critical Skills Operator? Well, that’s really great to hear, but a word of warning to all you would-be Raiders out there: To start this journey, you must go through MARSOC Assessment and Selection.


MARSOC is one of our nation’s most elite fighting forces; its members are ready to respond to any crisis, anywhere.

These small but well-trained Marine units embrace the unknown and are prepared to face any challenge. To earn a position on a MARSOC team takes a superhuman effort and the willingness to go above and beyond.

On the long road between you and life as a Raider lies a 23-day training evaluation designed to test Marines’ mental and physical limits in order to reveal the true nature of a candidate’s character.

Related: 5 things infantrymen love about the woobie

Check out these seven tips on how to get selected by MARSOC instructors:

7. Be physically fit.

This tip is so obvious it almost goes without saying, but don’t be fooled by the 225 physical fitness test score required to qualify — this is very misleading. If you want to be competitive and have a real shot at being selected, a score of 285 or higher is recommended.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Semper Fitness. (Image from USMC)

6. Semper Gumby — always be flexible.

Without getting into any specific details, selection creates a dynamic environment replicating austere scenarios that require ingenuity and out-of-the-box problem-solving skills. There is no manual for chaos and chaos is exactly what you will be expected to deal with if you become an operator.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Drown proofed! (Image from USMC)

 

5. Know your knots.

Bowline, around the body bowline, double fisherman’s knot — believe it or not, knowing these knots is an invaluable skill. It’ll save you much pain and aggravation if you learn basic knots before selection. The granny knot is important, too, but you probably already know that one.

4. Be cool; it matters.

Selection is looking for the best, however, all the physical capabilities in the world amount to nothing if you can’t work as a team. Peer evaluation is a major part of selection. Whether you can get along with others has a substantial impact on reaching phase two.

3. Learn land navigation.

Learn how to read a map, orient yourself with a compass, shoot an azimuth, plot points, make intelligent route selections, and understand terrain association. Master these baiscs and always remember: get high, stay high. A straight line is not always the fastest route.

2. Take care of your feet.

You’ll be moving an impressive amount of gear and water across substantial distances for an unknown amount of time. This will take a toll on your feet. Your feet are your life in many situations, so take care of them accordingly. Seek out a doc and get up to speed on basic maintenance, put together a foot-care kit (gauze, bandages, moleskin, etc.), and use it.

Also Read: 5 ways Marines are like ancient Spartans

1. Never even think of quitting.

Quitting is the surefire way of never being anything you want to be or do anything you want to do. Quitting is a poison that infects all other aspects of your life. If you start quitting now, it can easily become a habit. It is the exact opposite of what MARSOC is looking for and there is no room for quitters on these teams.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
The badass MARSOC insignia pin. (Image from VanguardMil.com)

Military Life

4 things you should never say to a military spouse

Words matter. And sometimes well-meaning words can sting. It’s been almost 2 decades since I said, “I do” and entered the military family — and its rather unique lifestyle.


Here is my list of the 4 biggest offenders in the “things never to say to a military spouse” category.

4. “You knew what you were getting into.”

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
A spouse kisses her husband prior to a welcome-home ceremony. (Ohio National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Carden)

Actually, most of us did not. I would go as far as to say that even a military brat who grew up surrounded by the culture didn’t know exactly what it feels like to send their spouse off to war. We didn’t know what it would be like to move our own children across the country multiple times or to sacrifice our career goals for another person’s military service. It’s kind of like having your own kid — you can read all the books and take all the classes, but nothing truly prepares you for the moment when you’re the one rocking a sick child to sleep in the middle of the night.

This is mostly a veiled attempt to say, “stop complaining, you signed up for this.” I get it. No one likes a complainer. But venting is healthy and we all need to get things off our chest from time to time.

3. “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Jessica Rudd, Marine veteran and Armed Forces Insurance Marine Spouse of the Year 2017 presented by Military Spouse Magazine, with her children. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo)

Embracing the suck is sometimes a necessity. But frankly, a military spouse doesn’t need a reminder of how to do this. Just because he/she puts up a tough front doesn’t mean they aren’t scared, upset, worried, or a combination of all three at times. It’s normal to miss home. It’s normal to be scared about a deployment. It’s normal to be overwhelmed with everything.

If your milspouse friend is becoming isolated or seems to be negative constantly, it’s perfectly fine to reach out and offer resources or just show up and take them to get coffee. Wanting to help is wonderful, but telling someone going through something very real and challenging to “suck it up” is rarely helpful. Tough love in this situation is mostly just lacking in the “love” department.

Also read: 10 memes that pretty much describe life as a military spouse

2. “I could never be a military spouse.”

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class Matthew Underwood shares a first kiss with his wife after returning to Naval Base San Diego after a 7-month deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Abby Rader)

Yes. Yes, you could. I didn’t marry my husband because I wanted to be a military spouse, I married him because I love him. I haven’t stayed with him for 19 years because I adore the retirement check, I stay because I love him. I didn’t have two children with him because I think the term “military brat” is cool, we had kids because we love one another and wanted to grow our family.

Military families love each other, just like any other family does. And when we love someone, we do things for that person. Do you love your spouse? Then, yes. You could do it, too.

1. “Thank you for YOUR service.”

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
Capt. Millie Hale and Capt. Ralph Hale pose for a photo on a T-38 Talon Aug. 13, 2017, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Alan Ricker)

I don’t know why this one bothers me so much — maybe it’s just me. I know where the sentiment is coming from and, on some level, I appreciate people who recognize that spouses and children also face challenges due to military service. Regardless, the word “service” always makes me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t step on those yellow footprints. I have not deployed. I haven’t sacrificed my own health for this country. I did not agree to die in defense of it.

So, for me, the word ‘service,’ while well-meaning, seems off. When a kind stranger says this to me, I thank them and gently say, “thank you so much. It’s been my pleasure to support my husband in his service.”

What are the phrases that bug you the most?

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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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training

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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(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

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(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.”

Articles

Here are the best military photos for the week of Mar. 11

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:

Spc. Joshua Minter, assigned to Dog Company, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, fires a Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun while conducting live-fire training at Grezelka range, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Feb. 28, 2017. The paratroopers practiced engaging targets at varying distances utilizing the M240B machine gun and the Mark 19 40 mm grenade machine gun.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena

A B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. receives fuel from a KC-10 Extender from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. during a Mobility Exercise held by JB MDL. The Joint Base holds an annual MOBEX in Gulfport, Miss. to practice deploying and operating in a deployed environment.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua King

ARMY:

Sgt. Christopher D. Miller (front) and Spc. Matthew B. Barton (back), both divers with the 511th Engineer Dive Detachment, set charges to blow notional mines, Feb. 10, 2017, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. The Soldiers were tested on their troop leading procedures, as well as their knowledge of setting up explosives on land, during this training event. 

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tom Wade

Pfc. Heaven Southard, an Army military working dog handler with the Directorate of Emergency Services, Area Support Group – Kuwait, releases her military working dog “Jerry” during a demonstration of MWD capabilities at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Mar. 7, 2017. 

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Dalton Smith

NAVY:

OKINAWA, Japan (March 8, 2017) Landing craft utility 1651, attached to Naval Beach Unit (NBU) 7, enters the well deck of USS Ashland (LSD 48). The amphibious dock landing ship is part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group, and embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is on a routine patrol, operating in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region to enhance partnerships and be a ready-response force for any type of contingency.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kaleb R. Staples

ARABIAN SEA (March 3, 2017) The amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) transits the Arabian Sea. The ship is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations designed to reassure allies and partners, and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devin M. Langer

MARINE CORPS:

Sgt. Allison DeVries, combat photographer, Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, boils snow during Mountain Training Exercise (MTX) 2-17 at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, Calif., Feb. 26, 2017. 1st Combat Engineer Battalion (CEB) conducted scenario-driven training that encompassed mobility, counter-mobility and survivability operations in a mountainous, snow-covered environment that challenged 1st CEB to generate combat engineering solutions to infantry driven tasks.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Danny Gonzalez

Sgt. Johnathan Stamets, radio operator with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, looks through his M8541A optic attached to the M-110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System rifle aboard the USS Somerset (LPD 25) Ombudsman, Jan. 12, 2017.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert B. Brown Jr.

COAST GUARD:

2016 was the 100 year anniversary of US Coast Guard aviation. To help commemorate the event, select Coast Guard units received a MH-65D helicopter with a centennial paint scheme.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Coast Guard photo

A Coast Guard ice rescue team member uses a rescue shuttle board to pull a simulated victim out of the freezing water during training, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017 in Burlington, VT. The team hosted Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, First Coast Guard District and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, adjutant general, Vermont National Guard.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi

Military Life

Here are the best military photos for the week of October 7th

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


Air Force:

Aerial porters load cargo onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft in preparation for Hurricane Maria relief efforts, Sep. 30, 2017, at Travis Air Force Base, Calf. The aircraft from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., will deliver a 65-member Contingency Response Element to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico to establish command and control of the airfield and provide aerial port and maintenance support during Hurricane Maria relief efforts.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno)

Airman 1st Class Edwin Ocasio, a WC-130E Hercules loadmaster assigned to the 198th Airlift Squadron, annotates information on his cargo loading forms at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, Oct. 2, 2017. Hurricane Maria formed in the Atlantic Ocean and affected islands in the Caribbean Sea, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. U.S. military assets supported FEMA as well as state and local authorities in rescue and relief efforts.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.)

Army:

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Brendon Shannon, assigned to U.S. Army Forces Command, fires an M500 (Mossberg M500) 12-gauge shotgun from the kneeling supported position during the 2017 Best Warrior Competition at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Oct. 5, 2017. The BWC is an annual weeklong event that will test 22 Soldiers from 11 major commands on their physical and mental capabilities.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno)

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Nate Sanchez, assigned to the Asymmetric Warfare Group, runs to assist a competitor during the Army Best Warrior Competition (BWC) at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Oct 4, 2017. The BWC is an annual weeklong event that will test 22 soldiers from 11 major commands on their physical and mental capabilities.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Miguel Pena)

Navy:

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct. 3, 2017. The Comfort will help support Hurricane Maria aid and relief operations.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Air Force Photo by Capt. Christopher Merian)

Chief Boatswain’s Mate Raye Cardona, patrol officer assigned to Coastal Riverine Group (CRG) 1 Training and Evaluation Unit supervise the Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC) launch and recovery exercises onboard MKVI patrol boat as part of the Safe Boat International (SBI) MKVI advance operator’s training course in San Diego OPAREA. CRG provides a core capability to defend designated high value assets throughout the green and blue-water environment and providing deployable Adaptive Force Packages (AFP) worldwide in an integrated, joint and combined theater of operations.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Boatswain’s Mate Nelson Doromal Jr.)

Marine Corps:

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment maneuver to the next building during a military operation on urbanized terrain exercise at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 3, 2017. The Marines conducted MOUT training in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Japan.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley McLaughlin)

U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Breanna Brown, helicopter mechanic, with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 (HMLA-167), Marine Aircraft Group 29 (MAG-29), 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2D MAW), engages a target during Weapons and Tactics Instructors Course (WTI) 1-18 at Chocolate Mountain, Aerial Gunnery Range, Calif., Oct 03, 2017. WTI is a seven-week training event hosted by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron (MAWTS-1) cadre, which emphasizes operational integration of the six functions Marine Aviation in support of a Marine Air Ground Task Force. MAWTS-1 provides standardized advanced tactical training and certification of unit instructor qualifications to support Marine Aviation Training and Readiness and assists in developing and employing aviation weapons and tactics.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Brennon A. Taylor)

Coast Guard:

Fireman Zeon Johnson (left) and Petty Officer 3rd Class Zach Little, a marine science technician (right), monitor the recovery of the workboat King Triton, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, in Boston Harbor. The pair monitored for any signs of pollution and ensured that proper containment and absorbent boom was deployed around King Triton, which sunk at its mooring two days earlier.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

Chief Petty Officer Mark Fisher places an Assessment Sticker on a vessel displaced by Hurricane Irma in the area of Dinner Key, near Miami, Oct. 4, 2017. Boaters are urged to exercise extreme caution in ports and waterways affected by Hurricane Irma, as navigational hazards have been created by the storm.

Nine tips for new parents are actually lessons I learned in basic training
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Nick Ameen)

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