Tag Archives: U.S. Army

Leaving the Military? Four things you can’t leave behind.

I’ve touched on this topic before, but it’s a deep well and I’m diving back in. Also, don’t dive into wells. They’re dark, cold, generally small and not meant for diving into. That’s a pro tip.

The urge to salute never goes away.

Muscle memory is a bitch. Once during a briefing before “leaving the wire” (fancy words for driving to Kabul from Bagram Airbase, a very, very safe trip) an infantryman in charge of our convoy’s security asked everyone in the convoy how long it takes a repeatable physical action to become muscle memory. In other words, how long do you have to do something before it becomes something you do just automatically?

I’m stupid and I thought it was like seven times or something. But turns out, it’s thousands of times. You have to repeat that same action, like exiting a HMMWV in a hurry, thousands of times before you can just do it automatically. To a seasoned infantryman, aiming a rifle, firing rounds and reloading are muscle memory movements.

Coffee and Puppy salutes are never wrong.

Coffee and puppy salutes are never wrong.

For me, opening a beer, touching my penis and writing stupid shit on the internet are muscle memory and not much else, except saluting.

Saluting for anyone in the military has likely become a muscle memory kind of movement. If you spend enough time in the military, retire and then go to work with military people you will feel, at the very least, a physical twitch in your arm when salutes are rendered while walking past a group of people of different ranks.

Sir and Ma’am.

Let’s be honest, and if you’ve ever been around military groups you already know this: there’s a shit ton of ego in the military. Pilots, commanders, Navy captains, infantrymen, all of them exhibit a shit ton of ego. Hell, the fucker slinging my eggs last Tuesday in the military dining facility had a chip on his shoulder.

Ego is important. You want a military that’s sure of itself. You want a military that has its chest puffed out.

I’m not sure where I was going with the whole ego thing except to say that by referring to someone as sir or ma’am is a great counterpoint to ego. It immediately defuses any situation. Everyone talking knows the pecking order and there’s no getting around it. In fact, in my opinion, it’s so much easier than actually remembering a person’s name, it becomes a crutch. It makes you lazy.

After I retired, I knew that I had to change my vernacular, but that shit’s hard. It’s tough when you’re hired on not to revert to the comfortable and easy back and forth of calling people sir or ma’am.

I was even yelled at about an email I sent to a U.S. Army major where I was basically telling him what was going to happen. Trouble is, I started the email with, “Sir.” My boss ripped me a new one.

“Hey fucktard,” he said with the affection only a pissed off boss could muster, “we’re the fucking higher headquarters here. We tell Major Limp Dick the next few days are going to go as follows. He can call his mom and cry if his feelings are hurt. Calling him sir starts that conversation in the wrong direction you idiot.”

Actually, it was a very professional conversation with my boss where he kindly took the time to break it down for me. I don’t think he even once used the term “limp dick,” “fucktard” or even “idiot”. I just like to remember the conversation that way because it’s way funnier if it happened like that.

That said, there may be a few people I work with laughing right now. Fuck you both. They know when I’m flustered, I still quickly slip back, into the sir or ma’am speak. It’s not funny you assholes, shut up.

Walking on the grass:

Grass — the kind that grows in the yard and not the kind George Carlin talked about in the ’70s and was just legalized in Alaska — remains a difficult thing to walk on. Any bit of grass that’s on a military installation can’t be walked on. On the occasions that I do walk across grass on a military installation I can hear the voices in my head, yelling.

“GET THE FUCK OFF THE GRASS!”

Oddly, the voice is yelling just like that too, in all caps. Then, at the end of the sentence, they beat me with the exclamation point. Seriously, the voices throw the dot on the bottom of the exclamation point at my groin and then use the top part like a baseball bat and just wail on me.

The voices in my head are weird, I admit.

Please come walk on us, for ever and ever and ever.

Please come walk on us, forever and ever and ever.

Once in the mid ’90s in Korea, as the editor of a weekly newspaper, I ran a photo of a military bomb-sniffing dog that was about to retire and was looking for a home. The wife of some colonel adopted the dog. Later, she told me that for weeks the dog refused to walk on the fucking grass.

Not walking on the grass can be so fucking ingrained in our military heads that even the fucking military working dogs fucking get sucked in.

Another story, this one told to me by a major I worked for in Iraq, is about the movie Blackhawk Down. This major was hard. He had badges for everything. If the Army had a badge for the most badges he would have had that badge. He had so many badges that at the top of his uniform where the badges were displayed it said, “See other side.” He had a lot of badges.

While he was assigned to a ranger regiment that worked with the crew on the movie Blackhawk Down several of the actors enrolled in a ranger familiarization course. Spend a day firing weapons, spend a day rappelling, spend a day doing PT. I’m sure it was just a, “Get these actors familiar with the basics of life as a U.S. Army Ranger” kind of thing. Not too tough, just a taste of what it’s like.

On the first day, the new “rangers” had ranger haircuts, were wearing Army-issued physical fitness uniforms and were standing on the grass outside of the headquarters for the “training” to start.

There the gaggle of actors stood, chilling out, drinking sodas and smoking cigarettes as hundreds of blades of grass were unmercifully crushed to death under their tender feet. They were horsing around. And they were a sergeant major magnet. The ranger unit’s tops NCO, unaware they were actors and not new ranger candidates, lost his mind.

The sergeant major started to lose his shit as he walked up from the parking lot and could only be talked down once the my boss was able to explain the situation to him.

Don’t fucking walk on the grass.

To this day, I feel weird walking on the grass on a military installation. I mean I shortcut the shit out of any walk I’m doing because it’s a stupid fucking rule, but yeah, I still think to myself, “Holy crap, I’m walking on the grass!”

On the spot corrections:

If you’ve never been in the military or around the military let me explain what an “on-the-spot correction” is. You’ll wish the civilian world had it, honestly.

It’s the ability, duty even, for someone to stop someone else and say, “What you’re doing right now is wrong, fix it.”

My best example is seeing a kid, clearly younger than I was (and thus likely lower ranking), at a military shopping facility wearing a shirt that read, “If this shirt is on your floor in the morning, you’ve just been fucked.” Funny shirt, I admit, but not the kind of shirt that should be worn at a military shopping facility. An on-the-spot correction is the ability to pull that individual aside and fix the situation. In this case, it was the ability to make the person in question literally go change their shirt, come back and prove they’ve changed their shirt.

I think he's saying, "pardon me friend, but you might have some toilet paper on your shoe."

I think he’s saying, “Pardon me friend, but you might have some toilet paper on your shoe.”

Many times its something much less extreme. Someone walking on the grass is a great example. Even a person junior in rank can correct a person senior in rank if they’re in the wrong. It happens occasionally. It’s the civilian equivalent to telling someone that they have toilet paper stuck to their shoe I think. It’s more a, “Hey, before you embarrass yourself” kind of thing than a, “GET THE FUCK OFF THE GRASS!” kind of thing.

I always tried to be super cool about those minor corrections, ’cause I’m not a dick generally. Even with Mr. “You’ve just been fucked” shirt, I just pulled him aside and didn’t make a big deal.

“Psst,” I said sidling up to the dumb little bastard, “that shirt is wholly inappropriate, so run home and change it and I’ll wait here for your return. ” in my recollection a dark stain appeared in his crotch area as he scurried away. I likely didn’t scare the piss out of him but he came back in a Nautica Tshirt. The shirt was shit but at least it didn’t say fuck.

That shit is hard to stop doing. Dagmar and I constantly correct each other on the spot. OK, that’s a lie. She constantly calls me out and I just mostly ignore stuff ’cause I’ve managed to let it go, but she, and many more I know, can’t seem to do it.

U.S. Army WTF Moments, WTF? Really, WTF?

Do you have a favorite author, television show, radio personality or whatever that you just love, love love, but who did something that really, really made you go what the fuck?

I have a love-hate relationship like that with my penis.

Naw, I’m kidding, I love my penis. He has never made me go WTF — except one time in my 20s when I was “experimenting,” and another time when I met this really hot girl in a bar and he failed to “raise to the occasion” after I finally got her home.

Both those situations were indeed, “What the fuck moments.”

Another thing I love is the U.S. Military. I love it so much I gave 20 years of my life in service to it and continue to “fight the good fight” in service to our brave Soldiers as a Department of the Army civilian*.

I also fell hopelessly in love with the Facebook page “U.S. Army WTF Moments.”

But like all things we love, you risk finding they’re not as perfect as you first thought.

If you’re familiar with that page or its blog, you might being going, “What the fuck,” yourself right now. You’d be saying WTF because you know that I’m basically a commie liberal who wants to mandate gay baby seal adoption with gun-banning U.N. reeducation camps. As shitty as that description of my political leanings is, it’s freakishly accurate. I’m pretty fucking liberal, and “U.S. Army WTF Moments” is loaded down with photos of Obama next to Hitler stealing guns from the hands of God-fearing Texans.

Liberal it’s not.

Seriously it can be funny, and by funny I mean, FUNNY

Seriously, it can be funny, and by funny I mean FUNNY.

But I am able to look past that stuff and appreciate the ever-present undercurrent of very, very funny stuff.

The site is run by a band of U.S. Soldiers and they comment and post mocking memes and pictures related to the military and its ways. The stupid signs in bathrooms about flushing, yes we have those. People with very funny names, yes, when your last name is always on display funny shit happens, and beer tanks (please click that link, it’s a no-shit beer tank. Go ahead. I’ll wait) which I think fully explains why I love, love, LOVE with capital letters, “U.S. Army’s WTF Moments.”

Until, in my estimation, they fucked up.

Cutting to the chase, and in an effort to not further bury the point of this fucking blog, one of the page’s administrators, Dave, decided to do something that I found appalling and which I don’t understand at all.

What they did felt a bit like watching your best friend butt rape a kitten.

“Hey, best friend, stop raping that kitten and also, why the fuck are you butt raping a kitten?”

Actually, it’s more complex than that. Butt raping a kitten is really pretty straight forward for all parties involved. The kitten is helpless and the rapist is a rapist.

What the administrator in question did was upload a screen capture of an alleged** U.S. Army Soldier broadcasting on a pornographic webcam site his use of a butt plug and a cock collar that delivers electrical shots to his testicles. He wasn’t only playing with himself for viewers, he was soliciting “donations” for “special requests.”

Well … I’ll just let Dave describe the details. He and I spoke via Skype last week.

(To be transparent — I’m a fan of Dave’s. I’ve been a fan of his work on “U.S. Army WTF Moments” for a while now. He gave me a “tone check” on the blog update about the potential cuts to tuition assistance a few weeks back, if that helps describe our relationship. Again I like Dave. I still do.)

Here are Dave’s words.

“Oh man, well, I was in our chat room and I’m about blitzed dude. I mean, I’m three sheets to the wind. And someone that frequents our site and the chat room said, ‘Dave you gotta look at this shit,’ and she throws up a link to a ‘Chaturbate’ room, and I’m like, what the fuck is this shit? I’d never heard of ‘Chaturbate’ before this. I clicked the link and made an account.”

The link had taken him to a webcam that at first showed an empty room. Dave said there were telltale signs that a Soldier lived there.

Well who needs coffee now?

The paragraph to the left of this photo really needs a photo of a hot chick to “offset” the pain a lot of heterosexual readers are feeling right now. Also, in the smaller offset photo on the bottom right. See that shit? Is she picking her ass? I think she’s picking her ass. Who’s with me?

“There was (an Army) fleece, a rucksack and an assault pack. You could obviously tell this shit was a barracks room.The fucking door frames were metal … then he comes in butt-assed naked and I’m like ‘Oh God’. And then, the next thing I know, he sits down and puts this collar on his ball sack. It looked like a dog harness, but made for a cock. It shocked him,” Dave explained.

“Ah dude, it was like a train wreck after that. I was taking screen shot after screen shot.”

Dave, a 30-year-old non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army National Guard, said he knew what he was seeing was wrong. This wasn’t a private citizen selling sex on cam to the general public, it was a Soldier doing it on post from his barracks room. The United States Code of Military Justice clearly prohibits this type of behavior. Debate those rules if you like, but if you’re in the military they are the rules you agreed to live by.

But Dave’s an NCO. Even if he’s not — hell, even if he’s a four-star general or a lowly private — he’s in the military and the person doing this on camera on the internet is a fellow Soldier. What, if anything, you do with this information is tricky no matter your rank because the subject is a comrade in arms.

Thankfully, Dave has the “no-balls rule.”

“The thing is that, when I first saw it I was like,’What unit is this guy in?’ Because one, its barracks and he’s obviously surrounded by U.S. Army-issue gear and equipment, performing sexual acts on himself on webcam with no age verification (on the site) and I’m looking at it and I’m like what the fuck? I’m just going to tell these Soldiers, ‘There’s this guy,’ ‘You don’t need to be doing this shit,’ blah blah blah. Then I got no ballsed*** into posting the picture,” Dave said.

This is where I think Dave became a fuck. Its where I wanted to ask Dave, “Fuck dude, what the fuck? You fucking fucked the fuck up, you fuck! I see your point that what’s happening is fucked, but you’re just fucking up the fuck. What the fuck?”

But when I got him on Skype I was a lot nicer because, again, I like Dave. He’s a smart fucking dude and I “kinda” got what he was doing. “Kinda” being a word that indicates I wasn’t fully on board.

To be clear to everyone reading this who is questioning where the fuck I stand on this matter — what Dave did, in my opinion, is completely fucked up. Put aside for a moment the U.S. Army’s Values, the Soldier’s Creed and even the NCO’s Creed. The freaky guy whose picture you plastered across your Facebook page was in-fact a fellow Solider, a fellow human being, and your inability to think through the potential harm that could arise from the decision to widely distribute a screen capture taken from a little-known webcam broadcast leaves me clawing around in a vain attempt to understand just what the fuck you were thinking.

Sure, I would never put anything up my ass and shock my balls on camera for money (because my wife would kick my ass and I’d only earn like $2 or something), but at the end of the day if you want to, more power to you.

Unless you’re a Soldier.

If you’re a Soldier, don’t fucking do it. It’s just that simple. You signed up for a job that dictates, “Here are the values we collectively agree to follow. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to think they’re great, but you do have to abide by them.” And upon signing the dotted line, this fuck with a ball-shocking cock cuff, agreed NOT TO DO THAT.

But really, they post this kind of stuff. How can you stay mad at them?

But really, they post this kind of stuff. How can you stay mad at them?

But Dave, on the same level, is really, really a fucker too. I love him, and only a person who respects and admires you can say they love you like this. But I think he too failed as a Soldier, as an NCO and as a leader. None of that says he’s a bad person. It just says that he swung and missed.

With a following of more than 250,000 people on their FB page, and an untold number of readers at their blog, “U.S. Army WTF Moments” holds vast power in their hands. I’d ask that in the future, they’d seriously consider the course of their actions. Just honestly question what harm could come if the photo landed in the hands of his mother, sister, family or a homophobic platoon mate? I agree it should not be there in the first place, but they were the catalyst for some potentially disastrous fallout. What is he kills himself? Could they sleep well?

That picture has 187 likes, 47 shares and 674 comments, the majority of which are also critical of the decision to post it . Yet it still remains.

In other instances, “U.S. Army WTF Moments,” has blurred out the faces of soldiers in ate up uniforms, or posers pretending to be in the military, but in this instance, there’s no attempt to protect the guy’s identity. The only censoring of the photo is a white box covering the guy’s junk. Why not be as considerate to him as they were to the others?

I asked Dave why he decided to post it.

“If you’re going to prostitute in an Army barracks you deserve what you get,” Dave said, later adding. “Well I know it’s fucked up. During the surge (in Iraq) a lot of people came in that should not have been let in. I myself am one of them. I came in with five moral waivers. But the thing is, the difference between me and these other guys is, I am trying to do the right thing. They’re not. If making these less-than-stellar Soldiers as in your face as possible helps out the Army as a whole, screw it. I don’t see the bad in that.”

The no-balls rule needs a loophole. There are times that something can be above the no-balls rule. “If you don’t shoot your favorite pet you’ve got no balls,” is an example of when the no-balls rule can be safely ignored.

The decision to post that photo just smacked of being a bully, a shithead, and an asshole.

But then I remembered, it is called “U.S. Army WTF Moments”****.

* As many of you may, or may not, know I’m employed by the Department of the Army, Department of Defense or the U.S. Government. Nothing I say on this blog ever constitutes an official statement by the U.S. Army. The above are my words, expressing my opinion only and should not be construed as an official statement of any kind.

** The guy in the picture is an alleged soldier because we don’t know yet who he is. Dave believes he is, and that’s good enough for me. Even if he isn’t, the thought process regarding the decision to post it remains the same.

*** No-balls is when someone says, “Dave, kill a million puppies.” Dave says, “I will not kill a million puppies.” Someone comes back with, “Dave if you DON’T kill a million puppies, you have no balls.” Dave kills a million puppies.

**** Holy shit this is a lot of *! Yeah, I didn’t link to the photo in question. If you want to find it, it’s not that hard.

Four easy things you can do to help Sgt. 1st Class Walter Taylor. Also boobs and beer.

This update is all about four easy things you can do to help Sgt. 1st Class Walter Taylor because here at www.hadafewbeers.com we’re all about the charity. And beer. And boobs.

For anyone that needs a recap about Taylor’s situation here’s the link, because finding new ways to describe the same situation, over and over again, ain’t fun and we like fun here …

So let’s hit it with some easy stuff you can do to help raise money for Taylor’s defense.

1. Donate, duh.

You can go here. It literally takes three minutes. Click the donate now link, select the amount you want to give (for anything over $30 you get a free bumper sticker), add your personal information and bam, you’re a great American.

Seriously, you’re a great American if you do that. Look giving to charity IS a good thing I think we all agree but most charities have a marketing campaign and/or a marketing staff of professionals. Taylor has me, retarded blogger that makes sauna boner and boob jokes, and someone named Diane in Texas that I’ve never met. Hey Diane!

2. You can repost this AND I don’t mean just on Facebook (but totally repost

Hey FB friends, you should totally give money and read this dude’s blog. It’s about a wounded warrior AND boobs.

this on facebook and ask your friends to do that same!)

I doubt it will come as a shock to anyone that the internet consists of more than just Facebook and porn. An amazing four percent of internet content isn’t even related to Facebook or pornography; I know that fact because I just made it up.

Rick, yeah Army guys vs. Dinosaurs on Rick’s BMW hood, frequents a BMW forum. I know this because Rick once told me.

Rick: “Yeah I was on the BMW discussion form and one of the members, BMWBONER09, told us how you can totally reprogram your key to automatically deflate the tires dude.”

Me: “Rick you are so fucking weird.”

Actually that’s a pretty typical exchange between Rick and I, but I digress.

Point is if you frequent an online forum of any sort, mention Taylor’s plight there. Whether it’s the World of Warcraft’s “DROODS RULE DUDEZ” forum or the “Hello kitty super fun time forum” that you frequent, bring it up there … this is all about getting the word out.

Word of caution though I did it on two forums I frequent and got my shit handed to me by some of the more liberal, skeptical posters. I’m a big kid though and I can take it. And by ‘take it’ I mean I cried, literally, like a little girl.

Finally if you do this, post a comment here or send me an email (oliveritay@gmail.com) … I’ll lend a hand if I can.

3. Do something local

HAVE A BAKE SALE! Okay I’m totally fucking kidding on that one, don’t have a bake sale, unless you REALLY, REALY want to have a bake sale and in that case knock your socks off. What I mean by local though is ask a local organization to consider doing something to help Taylor. Ask your local VFW or American Legion if they would consider helping. I’m a member of bowling team, because I hate myself, and I’m going to ask the league for permission to solicit donations. I figure who feels more sympathetic toward wounded veterans facing stiff legal fees than bowlers? Shocked that didn’t come to me sooner!

What this blogs about boobs AND wants money for charity … this is the best idea since the romans put the christians and the lions in the same event. I also stole that, totally, from Black Adder.

4. Give us suggestions about how we can raise money

Look most of my blog entries here are about Dagmar outwitting me, beer, Dagmar outwitting me, boobs, Dagmar outwitting me and boobs. Also I like to talk about boobs, so there’s that.

Point is that there aren’t any cute photos of kittens and puppies that need loving home or videos of vicious 12-year-olds ‘attacking’ grandma ala Karen Klein (I just rolled my eyes) there’s just a brave soldier facing serious charges and a crapton of legal bills.

But if you have an idea about what I, or anyone else, could do to help raise cash lay it on me (oliveritaly@gmail.com). When I started blogging about this less than $2,000 had been raised and today, less than a week later, it’s up to almost $5,000. That’s because of you all! Awesome everyone, have a beer on me! While still short of the goal that’s $3,000 in less than seven days.

Post a comment here or send me an email, let me know what your idea is … Mine is a contest where the highest donation totally get a beer and sweet boobs picture.

Another plea for a hero … support for Sgt. 1st Class Taylor starts with us.

First things first, thanks for reading. The last 24 hours have seen more traffic here than any other period in this blogs short history. More as in thousands more. Thanks for the hits, thanks for the shares and thanks for giving. Sadly that’s where we’ve come up short badly. Today his fund has almost double yesterday’s amount but it’s still far, far short of it’s goal.

We’re talking of course about Sgt. 1st Class Walter Taylor’s legal defense fund and efforts that are underway to help him raise $35,000.

This update is all about how you can donate (hint: that’s the link) and why you should donate. There will be, sadly, none of this blogs usual shenanigans – Taylor’s situation is far too dire for jokes. I mean that, its tough for me to say, I think almost anything can be a joke. Not this time though …

The good news is that even if you live overseas and have an APO mailing address you can STILL donate. In the address line where it asks for your city type in APO AE and in the line where they ask for your state, select New York and viola, donate away!

Pretty painless really, easier than purchasing on Amazon or iTunes so please, I beg you, head there now and donate whatever you can. Also again, repost this on Facebook and twitter and where ever else you find an audience because as you know or will soon know the recipient of this money is an American hero.

Why should you donate?

In an effort to fight out what appears to be politically motivated criminal charges SFC Taylor, wisely, hired a civilian attorney. Rather than risk it with a U.S. Army appointed defense lawyer, who may or may not be up to the job, SFC Taylor in an effort to save himself, his family and his career sought out and employed a civilian attorney well versed in military law.

This is an excellent move because, as you know, he did nothing wrong on July 21, 2011.

SFC Taylor, a combat engineer, and his platoon, set out on a road-clearing patrol that day to ensure that the roads in his area of operation were free of roadside bombs. They literally went out looking for bombs that day and every other day during their tour of duty. It was their job. They found the largest roadside bomb any of them had ever had the misfortune of encountering. Seconds after the devastating blast they were engaged by small-arms fire and during the course of that fire fight a black sedan, unbelievably, drove into the middle of it all. To the seasoned vets of his platoon this alone warranted serious suspicion that the vehicle’s occupants were enemy forces. Civilian vehicles just don’t drive into an ongoing fire fight.

This bizarre twist of events, coupled with the fact that during the ‘fog of battle’ several members of the platoon reported seeing shots coming from the sedan led to some of the platoon’s vehicle mounted heavy weapons engaging the vehicle.

After the firefight Taylor and three other members of the platoon followed a wire that had been used to detonate the road-side bomb – insanely the wire seemed to lead directly to the now silent black sedan.

SFC Taylor’s Platoon leader, just moments before he started following the wire, warned him that there were reports of insurgents using vehicles as bombs. The black sedan, he and everyone else thought, was obviously another bomb intent on taking his life and the life of his men.

As he followed the wire he came as close as 10 to 25 meters from the vehicle something else inexplicable happened. A figure dressed in black exited the vehicle from the rear-passenger door and ran toward the vehicle’s trunk. Reports differ but, by all estimates, Taylor has between 3 and 10 seconds to make a decision. Was the person friend or foe?

Think about that … 3 to 10 seconds. I imagine it’s something akin to this:

1 second: The door flies open.

2 seconds: A foot emerges from the door

3 seconds: A person’s lower torso emerges

4 seconds: The person is out of the vehicle, facing you and they are covered in black

5 seconds: The person begins in your direction and toward the trunk of the car

6 seconds …

You get the idea. Fearing for his life and more importantly fearing for the lives of his Soldiers Taylor shot and killed the cloaked figure only to discover, to his horror, he’d killed an innocent person. That in and of itself is more punishment they he deserves. It’s very unfortunate that it occurred but that it occurred is neither criminal nor careless – protecting yourself and your platoon from what would to any sane mind appear to be a suicide bomber is clearly the correct thing to do.

Here’s that link again, just in case you missed it. Any little bit, $5, $20 whatever amount you feel comfortable giving will help. If it’s $30 or more they’ll send you a bumber sticker that says I support SFC Taylor, how cool is that?

This isn’t going to be the last update as you can likely guess but I hope it’s the one that pushes his defense fund over the $10,000 mark. Finally, post this, reblog this, link this far and wide.

One final thing, I feel like I need to add a disclaimer. While I am retired from the U.S. Army and am currently employed as a Department of the Army Civilian the words here and my urging you to donate in no way reflect an official position by anyone or any entity besides me. This blog, and the updates regarding this case, are my opinion and should by no means be construed as endorsment by the U.S. Army or the U.S. government.

You know just in case you were wondering.

Thanks.

Things you don’t know about the military until after you leave the military

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the military for four or 34 years, you’re going to get out. As a veteran of 20 years and five days, here are a few things I’ve noticed.

1. Uniform vs. Civilian Clothes

Your ACU, battle dress or the thing you wear that looks pretty with earrings (yes, I’m looking at you Air Force) has a lot of things going for it. Chief among those is that wearing a uniform adds a level of predictability and ease to your life. If a piece wears out, you go to the military clothing store and buy a new one. Camouflage patterns hide dirt and stains. I drove a 1995 Jeep Wrangler for 15 years. The Jeep, which my good friend and co-worker Erika Fields once referred to as “that thing you drive,” is not known as a smooth ride and coffee was spilled every morning.

Camouflage uniforms don’t care, they make coffee stains their bitch.

In the civilian world though…

Spilling coffee on yourself is a turn around and go home, full-blown emergency!

Actually, this guy has choices because I think he designs his own uniforms! What the fuck is going on here?

A uniform, no matter if it’s camouflage-based; a cable-guy uniform, or the one this dude has to wear … is still a uniform. There isn’t a choice. When you get dressed you know exactly what you have to put on.

In the civilian world though…

HOLY FUCK, welcome to infinite choices. Maggie Menzies warned me about this when I was getting ready to retire and for the first six months after I retired I thought she was a dirty, filthy liar, but then one morning in the shower it happened.

“Jesus! What the FUCK am I going to wear?”

“Who am I dealing with today,” is a question that factors in to what you’re going to wear. As does, “What am I doing today, where am I doing it and will they make fun of this pink shirt at work?” (Hint: They will.) It becomes this retardedly complicated question that once answered can be rendered moot by one bump in the road that causes a bit of spilled coffee.

A Major once told me a story about testing out a new night-vision mount on a helmet. One his rangers intentionally banged the mount against the wall and when the company representative complained, the major said, “Hey, this shit happens.” Point being, the stuff the military buys is generally well made.

Civilian clothes on the other hand are garbage. Everything tears, snags and pulls apart. Early in my retirement I found a great pair of Steve Madden shoes that I LOVED. I LOVED those shoes, I kissed them at night. Everyone complimented me on them. Trouble was, they wore out in like a day.

I’m hiding … so I can destroy your clothes

I literally bought 10 pairs of before I admitted defeat and realized I was not going to win. Wearing a different pair of the SAME TYPE OF SHOE every other day just prolonged the death. They may have looked good, but they were made by meth-addicted Chinese sweatshop 8 year olds anxious to get back to their World of Warcraft gold-mining jobs.

Those shoes sucked, but I loved them.

Don’t get me started on slacks.

2. Rank … it lets you know so goddamn much

I don’t care if you were a private or a colonel, when you walk into a room you know you’re place. It’s just that easy.

Seriously, toss 50 military people into a room and within .0003 seconds they know who is in charge. Hell, you know who’s second in charge, who the senior enlisted guy is and who will head up the moral and welfare part of the group. It’s just that simple.

In the civilian world it becomes decision by committee. Everyone’s opinion matters. I think I’ve seen the cleaning lady get asked about her thoughts on the invasion of Iran. Everyone has a voice and it sucks. I’m pretty sure I could tell my boss tomorrow that I think we should consider the feelings of puppies when we go forward with the plan and he’d have to pause to think about it. In the Army you’d be stuck doing pushups, which are GOOD FOR YOU.

3. You’re generally taken care of in the military

You are. You’re taken care of. Fuck you, you are. Everyone has a story about how the military fucked them. Here’s a stop on the clue train for you, you weren’t fucked, you just ignored some key bits of information that left you feeling fucking while the U.S. Military put on kid gloves and tried to make it as easy as possible for you.

And you fucked it up after all that effort.

I have dug down into more people’s lives, asking where that last dollar went, when I was in the military than I care to think about.

“Why are you buying the good cheese when you can get a generic cheese? I’m asking because you’re in debt and I want to know. Fuck you, answer me.”

That’s a legitimate question in the Army if you’re having financial trouble. Your leaders can step in and tell you you’re making dumb decisions with your money. They can and literally do make you write out your budget.

mmmmm ... cheese

Sure it looks good, but are you mortgaging your house?

They can’t make you buy generic cheese, but they can call you an idiot for not doing so. This is just one example of hundreds, if not thousands, of things the military does in an effort to take care of their service members.

In the civilian world NO ONE GIVES A SHIT. They say they do. Hell, they might even try to make a half-hearted effort toward helping you, but at the end of the day, come 5 p.m., it’s your problem.

Living in a cardboard box? Fuck you, be in on time.

Daughter dying from cancer? So sorry, but while you’re at her bedside don’t run out of time off.

I exaggerate, but the military puts so much effort into seeing you succeed that you never realize it and when you do realize it. It’s too late.

4. Organizational predictability

The average person in the military and their family KNOWS full well when they are leaving for deployment or changing duty stations. The military takes great pains to let you know so the process is less painful for you, your family and your organization. Any movement from one station to another, or from one job to another, is predictable to a large degree. Knowing that your personnel action specialist is leaving in six months makes replacing that person that much easier.

But in the civilian world, it’s mostly like a bomb is dropped. Civilians can, and do, out of nowhere come up to their bosses and say, “Hey, I love it here, but I’ve got a job on the other side of the world and they want me there tomorrow so we need to have the going away lunch now.”

Meaning the organization now has to function one person down and, perhaps, has to operate without a key set of skills.

There are exceptions to any rule, so if you want to think you’re a special little butterfly and one of these didn’t apply to you fine. Generally though, it’s spot on.

Now, there are myriad ways life outside the military is better/easier/whatever, but that’s another update.