31 May 2007

What you learn in the military.

Every morning and afternoon I have the privilege of walking past the recruiter station for all services. Seeing the bright shiny faces of young folks about to, or in the midst of a very important decision process in their short lives. Something I wish I had done as a young man. I am doing it backwards and although there are some things that are better for me than for a young buck, I would recommend doing it the old fashioned way if you can…as a young man. I joined the military (reserves) AFTER September 11 at the age of 38.

I had a career, discipline, wisdom and patriotism. Most recruits are lacking in all those categories. I know I was a mess at that age. But if you are not, I highly recommend you pursue the military option for a start of your adult life.

At the age of 40 I developed high blood pressure (thanks to genetics) and have had a couple other health problems that were absent as a young man, this alone makes life physically easier as a young man. You do better without sleep, or in physically stressful situation.

All of the medical issues are under control for me, but nevertheless it is a constant reminder of my age and even though I love the military, I can't see myself doing this for another 14 years just to get a retirement check. **update, after my deployment to the USS Enterprise in 2007 I decided to stay in.

I am pretty sure, this deployment is my last hurrah as my enlistment is up at the end of this year. I could change my mind, but I doubt it. **mind changed!

I encourage young people to take a few years out of their life to serve, the benefits you get out of it far outweigh the risks in most cases. Of course you could be called on to give the ultimate sacrifice, and that is a little scary but if you are able to deal with that reality, the rest is almost always positive, even the bad experiences.

Here are a few of the things you learn in the military in just a few short years that in many cases take decades, and some people never learn.

These are generalizations, and of course there are exceptions. I’ve met several young Airmen (not a slam to the AF , my experience is limited so take that for what it's worth), who never learned this stuff but if you allow the experience to mold you, you come out way ahead of anyone else your age, especially in this age of softness and selfishness.

If you are already joining up or thinking about it, read What the Recruiter Never Told You by Rod Powers. Recruiters are salesman, and they will sometimes lie just to get the sale. You need to know that going in and if you don't get what you want, keep trying.

  1. Discipline, getting up to go to work every day even when you don't feel good. How many people in this world quit their jobs when they get mad, or call in sick when they have a cold. A military trained person is a much more valuable employee just for the reason that they show up every day, and on time. A military trained person isn't looking for the perfect job, they know the part to be played may not be the one out front that gets the glory.
  1. Learning to work with jerks. Learning to work with people who only think about themselves is a lesson we all have to learn. Some people learn this later in life and it messes with their head bad. In the military you learn this early and you learn how to get along with people you don’t necessarily like….you learn to stick it out. You learn that soon they will be gone and perhaps someone better, someone smarter will take their place.
  1. Personal Hygiene. The military is a stickler for this, you learn that people will judge you by how you look, smell and act. Regardless of whether you think that’s fair or not they do. This fact alone can get you a job above someone else. Is that fair? ...maybe not but who cares?
  1. Personal Responsibility. You are responsible for you, regardless if you think it’s someone else’s fault you are in that position. You get yourself out of it.
  1. Learning to deal with bureaucracy….nuff said, a tremendous life skill.

Much more (hundreds more), feel free to comment.

Cross Posted at Slapstick Politics


Peeved Guy said...

Being former active duty Air Force (10 years) and current reserve AF (soon to celebrate my first anniversary), I take a certain degree of exception with the 'non-slam' on the Airmen. I am sure you would agree that the Air Force is not alone in harboring unkempt, undisciplined slackers, but, to be fair, the Air Force might be the most lenient of the five services when it comes to the points you outline. However, for the record, the number of Airmen that I have known to exemplify the qualities mentioned far outweigh the number that were lacking in them.

With that said, joining the military directly out of high school was probably the single best thing that has happened in my life. I sometimes wonder where I would be had I not had the wisdom to sign on the dotted line and shudder to think of it. I will encourage both of my sons to consider at least a 4 year hitch to learn some discipline that is lacking in so many young people these days.

Cross commented at Slapstick Politics ;)

Mr Bob said...

My apologies, I should probably change that. I am sure I'll really change it after this deployement coming up on a carrier.
I work in a joint environment and there have been a lot of young airmen I have worked with that seem to buy all the liberal clap trap and they basically live as much like they are not in the military as possible. BUT, my experience is small, only a 5 or 6 airmen total over the last few years.
I am sure I probably just got a bad lot and could have seen the same in any service...(except perhaps the Marines).
No offense intended man. THANK YOU for your service.

Peeved Guy said...

Mr. Bob,

No offense taken whatsoever (I'm always peeved). Maybe it is I who should be apologizing to you for having to work with that type of Airman (and moreover, their supervisors). I, too had worked in a joint service environment (CMAS) and always had respect for the sailors I came across.
Maybe the Air Force does have more of the mamby-pamby whiners than the other services (probably so, no that I think about it). The age (and time in service) of the airmen in question may be a clue to their attitude. Certainly there was a time in the not-too-distant past where there was a certain perverse pride taken by members of the AF in being "un-military". All of that, however, is changing. I was seperated for eight years before enlisting in the reserves and there was a marked shift in attitude. Now, there is the emphasis from on high that the Air Force is a branch of the military and members can expect to be called upon from time to time to act as such.
At any rate, I didn't want to go into a huge rant about this, but felt I had at least some obligation to defend the honor of the USAF.
Good luck on your deployment.