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Aethelwine's avatar

What lessons did you learn from being in the military?

Asked by Aethelwine (42961points) January 28th, 2009 from iPhone

I have never served, a few family members have though. Much respect to all that have, which leads me to this question.

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15 Answers

Jack79's avatar

A minute is a minute. It has 60 seconds, all of which are valuable units of time. Time is not simply money. Time is life. When you run out of time, you run out of life. And it’s such a shame to waste it in the army.

Other than that, it just taught me to be lazy and tried to teach me to lie, but failed. I really think the milirary is a bad idea, whichever way you look at it.

Bri_L's avatar

I have never served either. I think this is a great question! I am going to follow out of interest.

Also THANKS to all who have served!

Aethelwine's avatar

@Bri_L Hopefully we have enough military members here on fluther to answer this question.

StellarAirman's avatar

Most of the things I’ve learned are just about the military. I have not learned any great life-lessons from being in the military. Being in the military (at least the Air Force) is pretty much like any regular civilian job in a lot of ways. People are people whether they are in the military or not. You’ll have some great people that are out to help you and give you good advice, other people that are dirt bags and will try to get ahead by taking other people down. Some people love the job, some people hate the job and can’t wait to get out, and try to make everyone around them as miserable as they are until they are finally out.

I’d like to say that I’ve learned a great deal of discipline and respect, professionalism, etc but I did not really gain any of that by joining the military. I joined late though, was 25 when I came in so I had already gained a lot of those things before I came in and had learned a lot of life lessons through experience. If I had come in at 18 right after high school I’m sure I would have learned a whole lot more and it would have been a very different experience.

I guess one thing I’ve learned is that situations are what you make of them. Basic training is not pleasant but you can try to focus on the positive times, and you definitely only remember the good times. I’m in Iraq right now, but by staying positive you can turn it into a pleasant experience (I’m sure that’s a lot harder for the Army to do though, considering they are here for 15 months at a time. I’m only here for 4, go Air Force! :))

I guess it’s also re-enforced the lesson that doing your research pays off, as I did a ton of research and chose the Air Force, which has a much better quality of life than the Army and probably Marines and Navy as well. I’ve also talked to a lot of people that came in without doing any research other than talking to a recruiter and had to learn a lot of things the hard way. Things that I had learned by simply reading about other people’s experiences online before I came in.

Other things I guess I could say I learned are attention to detail, respect for authority, don’t be a moron, etc but I learned those types of things long before I joined the military so that’s why it’s hard to think of specific examples of things I’ve learned in the military other than things like how to roll my socks into a rock-hard ball in basic training. (Which I of course stopped doing as soon as I left)

Darwin's avatar

My husband went in to the military early and stayed for more than 20 years. It taught him a great deal, including:

His dad was a whole bunch smarter than my husband thought he was

Getting drunk means you end up painting stuff gray, so don’t get drunk unless you like painting stuff gray

If you can make someone laugh they are much more likely to give you what you want than if you don’t, even if you aren’t supposed to have it

Officers are often nowhere near as smart as they are supposed to be or even than they think they are

There is always a way to get the job done, even if you have to sneak around behind the officers’ backs

That even if you don’t like your job the fact that it keeps other people from dying makes it worth doing

Military doctors are willing to apologize if they screw up because you can’t sue them, but they do amazing work for all of that

The Air Force really does have better housing than anyone else, but that compared to Coast Guard and Marine housing, Navy housing is wonderful

If it isn’t in writing it isn’t true

Flying into the eye of a hurricane is really cool once you get over being frightened

It’s OK to spend your entire paycheck at the exchange or at the NCO club because you’ll get another one next month

CYA (in case you serve with or under a dirt bag)

Living all over the world is fun, and you get to learn all sorts of languages, eat all sorts of food, and meet all sorts of interesting people, and

There are opportunities for learning and growing all around you, and all you have to do is take advantage of them.

It taught him other things as well, but for him the military was an excellent fit, and his life turned out much better than it would have if he hadn’t joined.

marinelife's avatar

I never even signed up, but spent my first 18 years in the military as a dependent. It had an enormous impact on my life.

I learned (Positive):

—To size up situations quickly.

—To understand the social dynamics of cultures and organizations.

—To blend in quickly to the mores and standards of a place and people.

—To pack speedily and efficiently and always travel light.

I learned (Negative):

—Always to feel not quite a part of anything, but more of an observer.

—To have difficulty trusting people quickly.

Bluefreedom's avatar

What I’ve learned in the military after 20 years of service and counting (8 in the Army and 12 in the Air Force so far):

- Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork
– Self-discipline & Self-esteem
– Pride & Professionalism
– Honor
– Camaradarie & Espirit de corps
– Managerial skills
– Weapons proficiency
– An education in world cultures (from overseas deployments)
– Stress management
– Leadership skills
– How to do more with less
– Hurry up and wait (I learned to be MUCH more patient when needed)
– Time management
– Law Enforcement techniques and skills (I’ve been a military policeman my entire career)
– Diversity & Tolerance
– How to be frugal on a military income
– Crisis Management

Sakata's avatar

Short version, “I learned how to kill people and blow shit up.”

Jeruba's avatar

@Darwin, that was a marvelous answer. Is that your recap or his? And which branch of the service was he in?

In fact, all the detailed answers are great. Very illuminating responses to an excellent question.

Darwin's avatar

@Jeruba – that is what I have learned from being married to him for twenty years, listening to his stories and watching him deal with military medicine (he is a disabled vet). I guess you could say that it is my version of his recap.

If you will note the reference to “painting things gray” – he was in the Navy. However, he and I both tell our kids to go into the Air Force if they want to be in the service. My husband puts it thusly:

“The Air Force builds the housing, then they build the runways with whatever is left. The Navy builds the runways, then they build the housing with whatever is left. The Marines build the runways.”

Sakata's avatar

lmao… and the Army drops their soldiers ON the runway.

Aethelwine's avatar

I love the detailed answers. Thank you!

gooch's avatar

I can survive anything life sends my way. I am a natural leader it was just hidden. Trust makes you stronger.

scotsbloke's avatar

I served in the British Army (R.E.M.E.) and prior to that the Sea Cadets.
I learned lots of great lifes lessons the most important of which for ME were:
Self Discipline
Respect for others
Confidence
How to look after myself (physically and mentally)
How to prioritise my needs
How to Drive
Management Skills
How to Iron Clothes (lol)

There was more, the shooting of guns, shouting at the new squaddies, being promoted, shitting myself when posted overseas, lying in a puddle for 6 hours on guard duty….....
Most of it was fun, it was definately what helped shape me into the person I am now.
I wouldnt trade it for anything!

Baddreamer27's avatar

In my 8 years…I have split ends from wearing my hair pulled back and tight. My feet never have a great pedicure from long hours in boots and usually hurt after a long shift. My nails sometimes have dirt under them and my manicure never stays for long. Wrinkles and worry lines from long stressful hours at watch and I usually dont have the time to where make-up to cover them up…BUT I have gained a Pride in what I do, I stand tall and straight knowing what I do makes some kind of difference. I have learned what it is to have HONOR and always strive to do the right thing, when no one else does. I have learned to have the COURAGE to face any adversity. I have made a COMMITMENT to my fellow shipmates and my Country. I have learned to be humble and thankful for those that gave thier greatest sacrifice.

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