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5 Military Habits That Don't Go Away

Mammoth Sniper Challenge
Mammoth Sniper Challenge
September 14, 2015
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Illustrations by Carl BarkerEveryone knows that being in the military is all about conditioning. It’s a re-wiring of our “nasty ass” civilian brains in order to mold us into the hard charging killing machines that we are. From day one, we are told that everything we’ve come to know about our old lives is a lie. We are weak, flimsy wads of clay that get chiseled into the rock hard warriors that we all grew up watching on our favorite action flicks. Some things just don’t go away though. After our EAS date comes and goes, and our DD214s get worn and tattered, there are still some remaining habits that remain engrained in our DNA. These are the remnants of our military lives, and we wear them like badges of honor. An added bonus is that civilians recognize these things too, and say things like “Did you serve in the military?” Which is invariably followed by “Thanks for your service!” That part never gets old.

5. Don't talk on your ass

on your ass

We’ve all felt the awkwardness of someone starting a conversation with you while you’re seated. The subject matter doesn’t rate standing up for, nor does it seem like the situation warrants it in any way. “Hey Chuck, we’re gonna go grab sandwiches. Can we get you something?” While you’re thinking about it, you slowly rise from your chair and pretend you needed to get up anyway. You straighten the poster on the wall by your desk as if it’s been bothering you all day. Now you can continue the mundane conversation at eye level as our founding fathers intended us to. It feels right. We just don’t talk to people on our asses. It’s uncomfortable, and no one will understand it just the way we do. Of course, if we stand up every time someone addresses us, we always get the obligatory “You don’t have to stand up.” Yes. Yes I do.

4. Using acronyms for everything


When you EAS or PCS and move to a different AO, you’ve got to remember that the GP doesn’t understand the SOP of military communications. Even when people ask what you did when you were in, and you respond what your MOS was, you’ve lost them before you even started to answer their question. We’ve spent our whole military careers learning how to shorten every little thing into a string of unintelligible letters for every action, location, question, answer, and object. And if you only have to convey a single letter to someone, we’ve lengthened that into words. i.e. alpha, bravo, charlie, etc. Efficiency is key, people!


3. Waking up early


This one is a 50/50. Every other prior service veteran will tell you the same story, in almost the same way, as if they’ve all learned it from the kind of script they give to telemarketers who need to hit all the bullet points in their pitch. “I don’t know what it is, man. I try to sleep in, but no matter what, I’m always up at 0500 every morning. Even if I’m up late the night before, I just can’t sleep late. I tried to sleep in this Saturday, but I ended up just laying in bed staring at the ceiling.” This story has very few variations. They tell it every time like they’re just stumped as to why it keeps happening, as if it’s been this way for just a few weeks. The truth is that they’re proud. It says to the world I’ve got military running through my veins. It’s a part of me, and I’m a born veteran. And, it is in fact something to be proud of. Good for you. The rest of us, however, could sleep through a 36 hour fire fight.

2. Calling everyone Sir or Ma'am

yes sir

We teach our kids to be courteous and polite until they forget somewhere around high school, and we are once again given this crash course in addressing people from the very moment we sign our names on that dotted line. The second time, it sticks forever. People are now forever sir or ma’am to us. We know it makes all of you civilians feel old, but it’s just a part of who we’ve all been molded into now. “Do you want fries with that?” “Yes Sir!” Every situation, and almost every type of person is on the receiving end of total, squared away, boot-ass politeness.


loud noise

For all of the combat veterans out there in the civilian world, we all know the annoyance of involuntarily jumping at any surprising loud noise. Some have it worse than others. Fireworks, slamming doors, dropping books on the floor, or a car backfiring. These things evoke at least a solid three seconds of heart racing, involuntary muscle spasms, or a good old fashioned ass clenching. Who doesn’t love a good ol’ jump start every now and again. It builds character!

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