Service members spends countless hours stomping across the base, running in formation while yelling a repetitive song at the top of their lungs. Military cadences, or close-order drills, date back hundreds of years as a way to keep troops aligned as they march onto the battlefield. Today, it’s primarily used to keep service members in step as they run, landing their feet at the same time to create a motivating, captivating rhythm.
Not only are these repetitive songs catchy as f*ck, but they’ll also test out your creative side as you can make up the lyrics on the spot. A good cadence call will ignite your fellow troops’ morale, helping them make it through the miles and miles of running we do each time we gear up for PT.
It teaches leadership and confidence
The cadence caller has an important job when they’re running on the left side of the formation. They need to make sure the troops are in step as you emphasize each of the word being yelled out. It’s excellent practice how to lead a pack of service members toward an objective at once, and no signal-caller wants to be seen following out of a run.
You can talk sh*t to other units
The military is full of competition, and we love it. On that note, we commonly run through other areas of the base that our military rivals call home. Since we can easily control what lyrics we yell during our PT sessions, we’re sometimes guilty of creating sh*t talking ones as we move in and through those areas.
No grunt wants to be seen falling out of a run in a near a POG barracks. That just looks bad.
It helps you control your breathing
Since we commonly yell out the cadence lyrics at the top of our lungs, this act helps expel the CO2 out of our lungs and allows us to gain endurance. The more controlled our breathing becomes, the more oxygen we can deliver to our bodies. It also helps troops take their mind off the fact they are running for miles if the troop is concerning on repeating the cadences correctly.
It’s also pretty motivating, and we use that to get us through those tough runs.
Officers, medical staff, and interpreters are just a few of the primary targets that enemy forces focus on in the battlefield. But the enemy also has their crosshairs placed on another profession that is excellent at sniffing out homemade bombs — the military working dogs.
Over 1,600 dogs train and serve alongside U.S. forces, completing tasks from bomb-sniffing to hunting down the ingredients that produce the deadly IEDs.
Recently, five well-trained canines received the American Humane Lois Pope K-9 Medal of Courage Award for all their years excellent of service.
I’ve always had a great deal of respect for men and women of service. They put their lives on the line to protect the lives of others, and that in itself is an incredible sacrifice. For service members raising families at home, the sacrifice is even greater. While most who enlist in the military return from deployment safe and sound, some fathers, mothers, husbands and wives do not. Even those who do are often gone for months at a time. As a single parent myself, it never even occurred to me that joining the military myself was an option.
Technically, single parents can join the military, but it’s not an easy route.
I’m extremely fortunate to have a mother who adores being a grandparent. She spends the majority of her time with my daughter so I can work. But even with that amount of support, I couldn’t waltz up to a recruiter and sign up today. To join the Reserve National Guard, I could apply for a waiver and cross my fingers. To join any other branch, I would have to give up my parental rights before they’d give me a shot.
This is all hypothetical, but for me, that would be an instant dealbreaker. For others, it might not be. A 15 year-old mom left her then 2-year-old in the care of her own parents to become a parachute free jumper. She was incredibly daring and made a permanent mark on the field. That was, however, in the early 1900s. Today, the regulations are much more stringent.
Each branch has slightly different requirements, but all require relinquishing custody. For the Navy, you can’t enlist for six months after the court order goes into effect. For the Marines, you’re not eligible for a full year. For the Army and Air Force, you must pledge that you do not intend to try to regain custody after basic training. If you do, you could be discharged and might face charges of fraud.
It’s also strongly discouraged, or even prohibited by some branches, to give up your parental rights specifically to join the military. The military can’t have people trying to shirk their parenting responsibilities by running off to join the Air Force, right? The custody agreement has to be in place prior to enlisting. No recruiter will advise you to give up your rights to be eligible for active duty.
Is the policy fair?
It may sound harsh, but the no single parent policy is there for a reason. The military relies on its members to report for duty wherever, whenever, without hesitation. They don’t have time to excuse a service member who can’t deploy because something came up with their kids. For that reason, they need to have legal assurance that your commitment to serve is your top priority.
Parents who are already on active duty when they get divorced aren’t completely exempt from these regulations. They have to establish a Family Care Plan guaranteeing that someone non-military is ready and willing to care for your child 24/7 without notice. If they don’t, they’re discharged.
Admittedly, newly single military parents have more leeway in comparison to single parents who hope to enlist, but there’s a reason for that, too. If you’re already on active duty, you’ve already demonstrated that someone else is available to care for your kids. For new recruits, it’s more of a gamble.
If you have enough support, enlisting as a single parent is possible.
If you’re determined to enlist and you have a very healthy relationship with your child’s other parent, giving up physical custody might be a reasonable option. Grandparents or other close relatives are solid options too, as long as they’re willing to become full legal guardians. As long as they’re on board, it’s an option worth considering.
That said, once you relinquish custody, there’s no going back. You’re handing over your voice as a parent to someone else, so it had better be someone you trust, and someone who fully supports your decision to enlist.
Why would a single parent want to enlist anyway?
For all the same reasons as anyone else would, really. Some are longing for a sense of purpose, or to be part of something bigger than themselves. While serving your own children gives many parents a sense of purpose, some long to serve on a much larger scale.
If someone else already has full physical custody of your children or if it’s a reasonable option for your family, joining the military can be beneficial for you and your kids. Military parents set an example of commitment and perseverance – and the benefits don’t hurt, either!
It’s no secret that both male and female troops tend to get married right before a long deployment to collect and save some extra cash. Although contract marriages are illegal in the military, that doesn’t stop many troops from heading down to City Hall or finding a justice of the peace to recite a few words and signing their names on a marriage license.
If you have the money and a potential spouse, you can plan a cheap wedding within an hour — depending on your location. Since most contract marriages end in divorce (go figure), it’s important to cover your own six when you’re out and about looking for that year-long husband or wife.
But, before you head out and find that special someone, read these tips — they just might save your ass later on.
Should I or shouldn’t I just marry a stripper?
Countless troops have gone out to their local boobie-bars to do exactly this. That fact is, strippers are humans, too, and they’re just trying to make ends meet like you, so that extra cash seems pretty good. However, never go after one that works near a military base, especially your military base.
Other service members are nosy and command “red flags” those types of relationship behaviors. So, if you’re going to marry a stripper, don’t go next door and do it a few months prior to deployment to give it some buffering time. It looks better on paper that way.
Use that dating app on your phone
Like they say, “there are plenty of fish in the sea.”
Now, we’re not saying you have the right to play games with peoples’ minds and hearts, but they, too, might be in a financial bind and you can bring the marriage idea up to them when the time is right.
Get in touch with an ex back in your home town
The best way to keep your fake marriage under wraps is to keep your new spouse far, far away from anything that resembles a military base. You’re still in contact with your family back home anyway, so you might as well drop a “hey” to your single ex that isn’t yet sure what they want out of life.
We all personally know someone who’s married their ex. There’s a history there behind the happy couple, which validates the union and lowers your chances of getting caught.
A recent Navy Times article notes that the crew of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) joined the “Order of the Blue Nose” — a distinction reserved for ships and crew that crossing the Arctic Circle.
That list includes both well-known orders and not-so-well known orders. They are for notable feats — and in some cases, dubious ones.
Perhaps the most well-known is the “Order of the Shellback,” given to those sailors who have crossed the equator. The “Crossing the Line” ceremony has been portrayed both in the PBS documentary series “Carrier,” as well as being the plot point for an episode of “JAG” in the 1990s.
But there is more than one kind of shellback.
If you cross the equator at the International Date Line (about 900 miles east of Nauru), you become a “Golden Shellback” (since those who cross the International Date Line are called Golden Dragons).
If you cross the equator at the Prime Meridian (a position about 460 miles to the west of Sao Tome and Principe), you become an “Emerald Shellback.”
Now, we can move to some lesser-known, and even dubious orders.
The “Order of the Caterpillar” is awarded to anyone who has to leave a plane on the spur of the moment due to the plane being unable to continue flying. You even get a golden caterpillar pin.
The eyes of the caterpillar will then explain the circumstances of said departure. The Naval History and Heritage Command, for instance, notes that ruby red eyes denote a midair collision.
Then, there is the becoming a member of the “Goldfish Club.” That involves spending time in a life raft. If you’re in the raft for more than 24 hours, you become a “Sea Squatter.”
Using the Panama Canal makes you a member of the “Order of the Ditch.”
Oh, and in case you are wondering, crossing the Antarctic Circle makes you a “Red Nose.”
Peer pressure in the military has its fair share pros and cons. While some of our personalities allow us to coast through our professional careers, others have a harder time, lacking some essential social skills and confidence. Conforming to social standards and activities might help them fit in.
Then again, peer pressure probably accounts for the majority of hangovers among active duty service members and veterans.
So check out our list of peer pressure examples that many of us have faced during our time in the military.
Most service members drink like fishes right after they get off duty. If you’re under 21, it doesn’t matter. Alcohol will be pouring into cups or shot glasses throughout the barracks and base housing. There are, however, those select few who choose not to drink what ever reason.
But continuously saying “no, thank you” to a delicious cold one could alienate you.
2. To be better than someone else
Competition is everywhere in the military — that’s the way it works. When promotion time comes around, you have look better than other troops to pick up the next rank. Those who already out rank you will urge you to do whatever it takes to be that guy or gal that moves on to the next pay grade.
It’s a positive form of peer pressure, but it’s there.
3. Looking good for the opposite sex
On active duty, we all wear the uniform. Once we’re off duty, we can wear our regular clothes. Some service members tend to dress better than others, which could earn them more attention from a hottie, leaving everyone else to their lonely selves.
We’re not suggesting you spend your next paycheck on a new wardrobe…but it couldn’t hurt.
4. Getting jacked
Depending on your duty stationed, being in top physical condition can earn you more respect. But if you’re sh*tty at your job and don’t have a brain between your ears, the respect level will lower quickly.
5. Buying something you don’t need
Peer pressure doesn’t just come from your fellow military brothers and sisters. Salesmen can pick you out of a crowd just by looking at your short haircut and that huge a** backpack you’re wearing. They will pitch you the idea that you desperately need whatever it is they’re selling.
Be careful of what you buy or what services you sign up to receive. Those sneaky bastards know you’re getting a guaranteed paycheck at least twice a month. You are gold to them.
If you’re an E-3 or below but you’ve got a car, you are basically a god to the other guys and gals. Your fellow barracks dwellers will say and do just about anything to hang out with someone who can drive them around.
They might not be your real friends, but let’s face it, you need all the friends you can get — especially if you’re staying in on a Friday night when you have a freaking car.
That pressure happens all the time when your service contract is nearing the end.
There’s always a question of women’s strength when it comes to meeting combat position qualifications. The truth is that there are definitely women out there that have the ability, as of now, to meet those requirements.
The CrossFit revolution that has swept the nation over the past couple of years has opened up doors for female athletes. Female CrossFit athletes develop body types we aren’t used to seeing on women, mainly because of existing misconceptions of weakness attributed to gender.
CrossFit is not just centered solely on lifting, but also on general strength and endurance. These women, and others like them, could tear apart the physical standards required for combat positions.
1. Sam Briggs
This English-born athlete came onto the CrossFit scene in 2010 and has been putting her competition to the test ever since. Just taking a look at her barbell stats, it’s easy to see that she would be a contender if she were to sign up for a combat position in the military.
Briggs stands at 5’6″ tall at age 35. She can squat 280 lbs, deadlift 375 lbs, and press 127 lbs, just to name a few stats. In 2013, she won the CrossFit games and became the fittest woman on Earth.
Since all combat positions are opened and gender-neutral, the qualification standards are not lowered for women, so they have to prove themselves against male counterparts. There’s no doubt Briggs could go toe-to-toe with men in any physical component of these standards.
Davidsdottir hails from Iceland and is a two-time winner of the CrossFit Games in 2015 and 2016. She certainly is a force to be reckoned with and is well known for her 255-pound back squat and 310-pound deadlift. Davidsdottir is still competing and one of the most well-known CrossFit athletes.
CrossFit incorporates running in high-intensity workouts while adding weighted vests to the equation. Davidsdottir had to run a mile and half with a weighted vest, swim another mile, and then run another mile and a half — not to mention the endless reps of deadlifts, pull-ups, and squats that followed. Some combat positions don’t even require all of the abilities that these female athletes have conditioned their bodies to perform.
3. Tia Claire Toomey
The reigning champ of the 2017 CrossFit games and has been crowned Fittest Woman on Earth. Toomey is from Australia and is young blood on the scene.
At the young age of 24, Toomey has been able to train her body, in a short amount of time, to accomplish amazing feats. Her barbell stats include a 297-lbs squat, a 244-lbs clean and jerk, a 357-lbs deadlift, and 50 pull-ups in a timed period. She could certainly make an excellent candidate for any combat position in the military.
4. Sara Sigmundsdottir
Sigmudsdottir is also from Iceland and has been rocking the CrossFit competitions — repeatedly ranking third. She’s always in the winds and nearly takes the title every year, but misses it just by a few marks.
Even still, her barbell stats are pretty impressive. Sigmudsdottir clean and jerks 243lbs, back squats 298lbs, and deadlifts 341 lbs. Not too shabby for third place. She could definitely contend in combat qualifications.
One thing is for sure: For some female athletes, the standards never need to be lowered.
A U.S. Navy officer charged with hazing and maltreatment of sailors is facing a general court martial.
The Virginian-Pilot reported April 18 that the unnamed lieutenant commander is accused of verbal abuse and retaliating against a sailor who asked to stop being called Charlie Brown. Court documents say the officer told the sailor to carry a Charlie Brown cartoon figurine at all times.
The officer also allegedly punched a chair next to a sailor and yelled at someone for more than an hour. The officer is also accused of lying about his actions.
Middle Eastern oil, the happy kind. (Go90
Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
Host August Dannehl toured a Palestinian-owned olive farm in the West Bank that was being guided by consultants from the
Near East Foundation and USAID’s Olive Oil Without Borders project. Similar aid was being offered to neighboring Israeli olive farmers and, far from begrudging the competition, the Arab farmers seemed relieved just to be able to get on with their livelihoods and happy to wish their Jewish counterparts the same.
In Part 2, Dannehl dives deeper into Israeli military, farm, and food culture, meeting with an Arab gourmet chef who helms a cutting edge restaurant in Tel Aviv, talking to young Israeli Defence Force soldiers about how they view their nation’s foes and learning from diners of both nationalities the frank similarities between Israeli and Palestinian cuisine.
“We’re kind of the same people, you know? We love hummus, they love hummus…” (Go90
Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
Finally, he returns to West Bank olive country, to the farm of Israeli olive oil maker Ayala Meir in order to attend a traditional kibbutz dinner, joined this time by Meir’s family and a number of their Palestinian friends from across the border wall.
Olive oil is culture. It brings people together. This is now the season that Jewish and Arabs and Muslims and Christians meet together. We all love this product. And it’s a way to know our neighbors. Actually an ancient olive tree is many individuals living in the same house. Every branch has a different root system. —Ayala Noy Meir
A toast to friends and neighbors. (Go90
Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
The recent success of efforts like Olive Oil Without Borders, not to mention the more live-and-let-live worldview that can be found among younger citizens of both nations, gives the world a glimmer of hope that this, one of the thorniest conflicts in human history, may one day be no more than a story neighbors reminisce about around a communal dinner table.
Magic hour in occupied territory. (Go90
Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)
Every so often Hollywood makes a military movie that’s so compelling in the eyes of the audience that it helps shape how they view the world. War stories in general display how dangerous life can be for those serving on active duty — mostly in the infantry.
But from time-to-time, some minor aspect of these films call out to movie-goers and motivate them to serve.
So we asked several veterans what movies made them want to join the armed forces and here’s what they told us.
Nobody wants to hear the phrase, “suck it up, buttercup.” But there’s a reason for it outside of being plain rude. The fact is, there isn’t much to be gained by complaining about something uncomfortable to others that are stuck in the same suck.
Think about it this way: it’s like being stuck down in a well with a few others. What good does it do for anyone if you start whining about how you hate wells?
Everyone around you is dealing with the same problems. You can either work on improving what you can change, embrace the things you can’t, and joke about the suck with everyone else — or you could just get out. These are the comfort zones you’ll learn to abandon by joining the military.
Nobody wants to wake up early. Nobody. It’s impossible for any human being to willingly enjoy the idea of getting less sleep because they feel the need to get some physical exercise. If that does describe you, I seriously doubt that you’re a human being, but rather some sort of autonomous robot.
We do it because we must.
The human body
Before you know it, you’ll end up in communal showers. There, you’ll see plenty and plenty will see you.
And we’re not talking about exposed genitalia — you’ll get over that real quick. You’ll see sores, fluids, and all sorts of nastiness that some happens to the human body during a deployment. If you’re a medic or Corpsman, expect your friends to randomly ask, “hey, doc, does this look infected to you?”
It’s not just knee and back pain, or “weakness leaving your body” as the PT instructor calls it. That’s guaranteed. Expect an amount of unnecessary physical pain. If your battle buddy is an idiot, expect to get smoked with them. If they have a loud mouth at the bar, expect to get punched in the face at least once throughout your career.
Just get used to waking up in the morning and wondering what happened to your 18-year-old body. Be prepared to ask yourself why you’re complaining about the same pains as your grandmother.
Lack of personal space
If you maintain a personal space bubble and feel awkward when someone comes within a foot of you, curb it. You probably shouldn’t be claustrophobic either.
You won’t have any room to do anything or anywhere to be by yourself.
Sharing personal details
Don’t feel like spending 12 hours at a time with the options of staring at a blank wall or talking with some random person? Too bad. You’re about to turn into Forrest Gump and tell them everything.
Learning you’re not special
Individualism is a blight on the uniformed services. It’s “one team, one fight,” not “everyone plus this guy.” This rule applies to everyone — and not just the person crying because Sergeant gave them a dirty look. Even the troop that is damn-near Captain America is guilty if they start demanding the military start handing out opportunities.
The military doesn’t owe anyone anything unless it’s earned. And even earning something doesn’t mean the door is now open for making more demands.
Fighting fires is hungry work. And since firefighters spend long hours, even days, at the fire station, it naturally falls to some schlub rookie to lace up an apron and put food on the table. That’s normally how it goes.
But Meals Ready To Eat doesn’t profile normal.
In South Philadelphia, there’s a fire station where things go down a bit differently. That’s because the members of Philly’s Fire Engine 60, Ladder 19 are lucky enough to count a gourmet chef among their ranks. In fact, he outranks most of them. He’s Lieutenant Bill Joerger, he’s a former Marine and this kitchen is his by right of mastery.
It is a little weird for a ranking officer to spend hours rustling the chow. It’s a little strange that he goes to such lengths to source ingredients for his culinary art. It’s a bit outlandish when those meals are complex enough to necessitate a demo plate.
But Bill Joerger doesn’t care about any of that. When not actively saving lives, he cares about honing his cooking skills, eating well, and creating — in the midst of a chaotic work environment — some small sacred space where everyone can relax and just be people together.
“You have the brotherhood in the Marine Corps, and it’s the same as being in the firehouse…it’s some satisfaction for me to know that I’m producing a good meal for these guys after the things that we deal with on a daily basis.”
Meals Ready to Eat host August Dannehl spent a day with Joerger at the firehouse, experiencing the often violent stop-and-start nature of a firefighter’s day and, in the down moments, sous-cheffing for the Lieutenant. The story of how Joerger found his way from the Marine Corps to a cookbook and then to the firehouse kitchen is a lesson in utilizing one’s passion to impose some order in the midst of life’s disarray.
It’s the goal of almost every young corpsman who enters into their first unit to one day earn a Fleet Marine Force pin. Like everything else in the military, the pin is earned through plenty of hardship and many hours of studying.
The FMF pin itself has a beautiful design. It’s an extension of the Marine Corps’ Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, adorned with a wave that’s crashing onto a beach, signifying the historical sands of Iwo Jima. Two crossed rifles lie behind the globe, symbolizing the rifleman’s ethic that this program is designed to instill into sailors assigned to Marine Corps units.
Before a corpsman can proudly wear the badge, each sailor has to prove themselves through a series of written tests and oral boards. These tests are stringent, but we’ve come up with a few tips to help you navigate your way into earning the beloved pin.
Study the manual
When a sailor checks into their first unit, they will receive a thick book full of Marine Corps knowledge that’s nearly impossible to memorize. It’s a good thing you won’t have to.
The information within the manual is divided up into three different sections: the Marine Division (infantry), Marine Logistics Group (supply), and the Marine Air Wing (pilots and sh*t).
Outside of Marine Corps history, all you have to study are the sections that apply to you — which is still a sh*tload.
Learn by doing
For many sailors, it’s tough to sit down, read from a book, and retain all the information you need to qualify. Many of us learn better by doing. Go through the channels necessary to get your hands on a few weapon systems so you can learn the disassembly and reassembly process. Do this before you go in front of the FMF board.
Have your Marines quiz you
Remember how we talked about getting your hands on those weapon systems? Nobody knows those suckers better than the Marines who use them every day. So, when you’re with your new brothers, have them put you through a crash course on their gear.
Board while on deployment
When you go before the board to earn your pin, you should know everything, inside and out. That being said, most sailors don’t pass the board on their first time up.
If you opt to be evaluated stateside, the board will expect you to know everything there is to know, since you’re not on deployment and patrolling daily. If you board while on deployment, they usually stick to the basics — you’re under enough as it is patrolling the enemies’ backyard.
Secondly, studying for your FMF is an excellent way to pass the time — and it gives you a solid goal to accomplish before you pack up and go home. Frankly speaking, getting pinned by your Marine brothers is a great way to end a stressful deployment.