There’s just something about soldiers which makes them stand out. It could be how they stand, how they walk or just how they carry themselves in day-to-day life. Once a soldier, always a soldier. We have compiled a list of different points that people in the military or ex-military will surely relate to.
Floor = Bed
Basic training prepares you to sleep practically anywhere. What civilians see as the floor, you see as your bed and your buddy’s shoulder isn’t just that – it’s a pillow. Soldiers are truly remarkable in many ways. One example of this is the fact that even if they are sleeping deeply, they are able to get up and be at attention within seconds.
Soldiers make it a point to fold and iron their uniform. You won’t ever see a soldier with a creased uniform on. That’s just not their style. Being presentable at all times is a must for soldiers.
The Way You Walk
If you would like to know if someone was in the military or not, just look at how they walk. Even from a mile away you can see that a soldier walks with purpose and control. What’s more, keep in mind that if you walk with a military person, you will probably need to speed up.
“What’s the time?” “It’s 18:00!”. Being ex-military does not change how you read and tell time. Why do you have to include AM and PM when you can simply count 24 hours?
Civilians can choose whatever haircut they would like to wear, but soldiers all get the same buzz-cut. However, after leaving the military, they can get whatever haircut they want, but most just stick to the kind that they have gotten used to.
Right from the start, scanning and assessing situations is something soldiers are trained to do. They are always watchful and alert to anything out of the ordinary. Also, they will definitely act if needed. For that reason, don’t get surprised if your soldier partner quickly scans a family picnic at the park, a concert or even a room.
Standing At Ease
You may think that soldiers standing “at ease” don’t look like they are comfortable. However, after several years of standing in a particular way, the stance somewhat becomes comfortable, even when you get back to civilian life.
Sir And Ma’am
Being respectful is taught to all soldiers. It doesn’t matter whom they’re speaking to. It could either be the flower lady, the milkman, or your parents, soldiers will call males ‘sir’ and females ‘ma’am’.
Soldiers have trained themselves to eat meals very quickly because they usually need to get back to their post. It could also be because they are in survival mode as they are in a war zone. Never assume it will be easy for someone who has been in the military to go back to the way they ate pre-army.
It’s highly likely you’ve heard expressions like “affirmative”, “negative” or “roger that” in computer games and films. Actually, this is how soldiers speak, which they take with them even after they leave the service. It’s like learning a new language, and once you have learned it, letting it go becomes hard to do.
It’s not their intention to be rude. However, since everyone talks that way, that’s how you talk too. No idea what we’re talking about? Then, try introducing yourself to some drill f@#&ing sergeant.
As we’ve mentioned, soldiers understand how important it is to be presentable, and among the most important pieces of clothing they have is their boots. It’s safe to say soldiers are willing to spend whatever effort and time necessary to make their boots shine.
Fridges may serve many families in a way that it becomes a place for reminders and photos, but for soldiers, it’s different. A fridge of a soldier usually has clues of their service in the military, with military souvenirs or war memorabilia.
“Did that guy just salute me?” Well, saluting is one form of common greeting, so it’s somewhat difficult to let go of the habit. If some soldier salutes you, then they’re probably only saying hello. Don’t hesitate to salute back.
“Kitchen? What’s that?” Actually, what we wanted to say was ‘the mess’. It doesn’t really matter how tidy and neat your kitchen is. It’s always going to be THE MESS to a soldier.
Call Of Duty
Just like any civilian, soldiers also love playing Call of Duty. The difference, however, is that soldiers know the game is far from the real thing. Carrying a grenade launcher and 6 rifles is a piece of cake… in a game.
Black paint or ‘Boot-Topping’?
If military personnel is asked, there is not much difference between boot paint and boot-topping. However, boot-topping is actually the black coating that’s lathered between the waterline and the deck. Also, its consistency is liquidy and thick and it is made of sulfur or lime. Even though civilians wouldn’t even notice that black paint is different from boot-topping, an expert military eye is able to see the difference even when they are a mile away.
Quiet In Line
When a military person stands in line, they’re pretty quiet and do not make any ruckus. This stems from the basic training that they get. They stand in lines waiting for orders or before going inside the mess hall and they do it in controlled silence. Thus, they also do it in civilian life while waiting for the ATM or a bus.
Checking Your Car
Discipline in the military is key to remaining safe. Before going on a mission, soldiers must check their vehicle to make sure that it is prepared and safe. Whatever the vehicle is, – an armored personnel carrier, a helicopter, or a fighter jet – the soldier must check it. After their days in the service have passed, they still continue with their habit… by checking their own car.
Home Chore List
How does a person get things done? Of course, with some kind of chore list. In the military, a chore list makes sure that everybody knows what they are tasked to do and that tasks get done. If a person doesn’t do what’s assigned to them, they are held responsible and soldiers use this method at home.
Skip The Fireworks
Popping fireworks in the sky is a beautiful sight, but not everyone thinks so. Who, you might ask, thinks like this? Well, a soldier that has experience being in a battle zone probably doesn’t have very nice memories of the bangs. A soldier who has been deployed has enough experience of fireworks… only they’re the real kind.
In addition to walking a particular way, soldiers also stand a particular way. Soldiers, depending usually on their rank, have a power stance. If you are around military people, you can definitely feel their posture exudes a sense of confidence.
The people who go together with a soldier to the battlefield are some of the most important men and women in a soldier’s life. They are the ones responsible for keeping a soldier safe and vice versa. It doesn’t matter how many curses and insults they hurl at one another. They trust and love one another to death.
Speaking In A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.S.
Acronyms are a big part of military speak. You might hear these words from a soldier but you won’t probably understand them. SNAFU, BOHICA, and WAG… No idea? Then, you most likely haven’t been in the military.
In the military, it is standard practice to honk twice in order to warn others that you are backing up. After going back to civilian life, soldiers still have the tendency to do this out of habit.
Because the American flag is a symbol of the whole American nation, it deserves great respect. When they see the flag is being raised, soldiers will stand right away and even salute at times. No knee-droppers here.
Back To The Wall
In the military, when your back is towards the wall, it doesn’t mean that there is nowhere else for you to go. It actually means you’re safe because you don’t need to watch out for threats behind you. You only need to mind what is in front of you. Soldiers have the tendency to opt for a seat that has a wall right behind them even when they are back to civilian life.
Since neatness is a really big deal for soldiers, their beds aren’t an exception to this ideal. “Hospital corners” make sure that every single bed is neat and all the beds look the same. After all, it’s a bed uniform.
War Movie Frustration
If a soldier feels annoyed by some Hollywood war film, don’t be surprised. It can never actually resemble what they’ve experienced. However, this doesn’t mean that they can never enjoy an action movie. It just means they see incongruities.
Whistling In The Loo
If you hear whistling from the next toilet stall as the person in it is tinkling, chances are he was or is a soldier. Even though no one seems to know where this ‘tradition’ came from, it is still common military practice.
You might be wondering what a knife hand is exactly. Well, it’s the hand someone makes when explaining a thing. The hand is flat and tight and all the fingers are aligned. Men and women, post-service, still use this when giving directions.
Getting Up Early
If a soldier says that they slept in, they probably mean that they slept until 7 am. The habit of waking up early which they get from basic training and deployment, somewhat sticks forever.
Similar to what you see in films, soldiers “pop smoke” to create a shield or a diversion so that they are able to move into position. Outside the military, if a soldier says he’s “popping smoke”, that usually means he’s leaving.
Eating military food is not actually something to write home about. If your food is dry or liquidy, what are you to do? Soldiers would answer that by saying Tabasco sauce, which they swear by.
The National Anthem
As soon as the Star Spangled Banner begins to play, you might notice a tear and a twinkle in a soldier’s eyes. America’s national anthem is a soldier’s soundtrack for their lives as well as the flag’s music.
Always Early, Never Late
There are people who enjoy showing up to events “fashionably late”. However, for people in the military, this is a complete “no-no”. Soldiers are never late and usually arrive 15 minutes early. The fact that time is accountability is something soldiers completely understand.
There are people who give explanations to things that are happening, but how about soldiers? Well, they give briefings. What’s the point of speaking for a long time with too much emotion and too much information, when you can choose to say only the important stuff and be direct to the point? Rhetorical question.
When an ex-soldier is trying to find a song that can get them pumped up for a run or for working out, “cadence” will always be something that they can turn to. No matter how they feel, cadence will always be the soundtrack of hard work and motivation.
Every person who was assigned a gun during their service knows that it is practically a body part. Wherever they go, their gun goes as well. This even means that when they have finished their service, they still have the feeling that their gun is with them.
Losing Your Gun
Speaking of that feeling like your gun is still with you – ex-soldiers actually sometimes have dreams of losing their gun (more like nightmares really) but they wake up and realize that they no longer carry a gun.
Spelling out words using the military phonetic alphabet is a tendency that all soldiers have. They will say something like “juliet” instead of the letter “j” and “delta” instead of “d”. You’ve probably even heard them talking right beside you and you had no clue what they were saying.
Long luxurious showers are basically unheard of when you are in the military because there’s no time for them. Showers are brief because they are nothing more than a necessity. Soldiers usually still have this habit even when they are back to civilian life.
If you’ve been or still are in the military, chances are you feel more comfortable sporting sunglasses. The sun shining or not is not really an issue. Your will be wearing your sunnies regardless.
Talking During The Anthem
People speaking while the national anthem is playing actually drives soldiers crazy. They find it disrespectful and heaven knows what would happen if they had their weapon with them and they might get the noisy ones to quiet down. Thank goodness weapons are out of the equation.
It doesn’t matter what kind of danger it is, anyone who has been or is still a soldier will run towards it; never away from the danger. This includes simply helping people. When action is needed, you can expect soldiers to always take on the responsibility.
You know you’ve run into a soldier if they say “say again” instead of “pardon me” or “excuse me”. Those who once served in the military won’t drop this habit after being released from serving.
Finding The Exits
Soldiers are trained that upon walking into any situation, they always need to find and know where the exit points are. This habit will stay with a soldier for their entire lives; you can be sure they know every possible exit in case of an emergency.
Right Hand Free
Soldiers are known to always keep their right hand free, or for the select few, their left hand. They have the habit of keeping their “strong” hand available at all times no matter when or where. Sorry ladies, you’ll have to hold your man’s left hand!
Hands In Pockets
Another easy way to spot a soldier or a veteran is by seeing whether they place their hands in their pockets or not. You’ll rarely find soldiers with their hands in their pockets, as they are always ready for whatever may occur. You can most often find them in a power stance with their hands on their hips instead.
Quiet During Announcements
Soldiers always show respect, so it only makes sense that they are quiet when receiving orders. When any announcement goes off, whether at the supermarket or a baseball game, you can expect to find them standing quietly, listening and at attention.
Curious as to why your Army friend always seems to have multiple routes mapped out wherever you go? Soldiers always have alternate routes planned, as they never rely on one route in case distaster strikes.
Brass To The Grass
This is a term that only a soldier will be familiar with…”brass to the grass”. Those who have never served in the military will most likely have no idea what this slogan means, but you can bet soldiers use it long after their service.
Soldiers live and breathe perfection, so it only makes sense that the “gig line” exists in their daily lives. It refers to the alignment of the seam of the uniform shirt, belt buckle, and uniform trouser fly-seam; these should all align in a perfectly straight line.
No Word Is Gold
Those who have served in the military know very well that no word is the “end all be all”. Nothing is happening until is is actually happening, meaning nothing is set in stone. Anything can change in a second.
It isn’t uncommon for soldiers to not even be aware of someones first name because they more often than not refer to one another primarily by last name. John Cooper? You’ll be known in the military as just Cooper.
Soldier Or Not
Those who have served in the military will continue habits and behaviors long after their service. No matter how hard they try, they can’t shake these things that give them their soldier status.
When coming into the Army, soldiers are trained to perfection, fit as a fiddle. But, upon discharge, it’s a completely different story. Ex-military will silently be cursing the Army for the rest of their lives thanks to the joint pain that lasts a lifetime.
You’ve Got An Ex
Waiting around day in and day out for your husband or wife to come home from war is no easy feat. Servicemen and women often get divorced, the stress of it all too much for loved ones to handle. Don’t be surprised to find Army vets with multiple failed relationships.
When the enemy strikes in the middle of the night, no matter how nicely you ask, they aren’t going to wait for you to be dressed and ready. The need to be ready at all times, and the fact that you have one outfit choice (camo) makes soldiers extremely fast dressers.
Some Vitamin M
Never heard of Vitamin M? That’s because this pill only exists in the military. When servicemen and women get sick, there’s no “taking a sick day”, they pop a Motrin and they fight on. Vitamin M is these soldiers best friend when they’re not feeling 100%.
Water is pretty equivalent to Vitamin M, they’re both miracle workers. Whether you have strep throat, a missing leg, a hernia, a headache or a stomachache, water is your go-to. Whatever Vitamin M can’t fix, water can.
Military kids will be able to easily differentiate between helicopters, while kids of non-military will refer to that flying thing as a helicopter. “Son, is it an Apache, a Blackhawk or a Chinook?”. They’ll always know the answer.
Deployment can equate to weeks, months, and even years away from loved ones. Military personnel have become so accustomed to being gone for so long that time passes for them in a second. Don’t be surprised if your husband says his time away felt like hours instead of months.
Worst Case Scenario
When in the military, soldiers are always taught to imagine the worst case scenario. This thinking prepares them for a way out of any situation that turns ugly. They’ll always imagine the worst case scenario checking out at the supermarket, or while at a family reunion.
Skype Is Reality
When in doubt, Skype it out. Video chatting is the next best thing apart from seeing loved ones in person. Phone calls are great to hear a voice, but to really feel like you’re there, Skype is the way to go. It isn’t rare to see a soldier on Skype while his wife is delivering their baby.
Forget darks and lights, think: “cammies”. Soldiers don’t separate their clothing based on color, but rather whether it’s camouflage or not! We wonder what setting on the washing machine they choose to preserve their uniforms.
Soldiers quickly become accustomed to sleeping through just about anything. Those who have served in the military will often find it difficult to fall asleep when it’s too quiet, cue falling asleep with the TV blasting Sportscenter!
AC Or No AC?
Air Conditioning doesn’t exist in the military…get used to blaring temperatures! After discharge, a soldier will either be able to survive even the hottest temps without it, or they can’t live without it. He’s lived without it for 20 years, let him crank it to a chilling 65 degrees!
Medal Of Dishonor
Although it is true that no one likes a liar, soldiers have an even stronger dislike. for the lot. Don’t even try to fool them into thinking you served when you didn’t. You won’t win that battle very easily.
Hats For The National Anthem
All military have a problem when people don’t take their hats off for the national anthem, or even worse, sit during it. We can’t imagine how they felt when NFL players began to kneel during the song!