Joining the US Military: Five Key Lessons I’ve Learned & My Honest Advice
Joining the US military comes with some key lessons and coping strategies. As someone in the military, I’ve had my fair share of experiences and lessons, and I want to share them with you. While I may not have served as long as some of the seasoned veterans on YouTube, I’ve been through the grind, from basic training to my current stint in A-school, which is the Army’s version of AIT or tech school in the Air Force. I’m not really sure what they call it in the Marine Corps, but it’s like the training after basic training. I’ve picked up some valuable insights that I believe can help you on your military journey.
Table of Contents
Lesson 1: Leadership is More Than Just Giving Orders
Being a leader in the military is not solely about issuing commands and ensuring tasks are carried out. It’s about genuine care and respect for your fellow service members. Leadership goes beyond just doing your job; it involves checking in on people, understanding their motivations, and showing respect to everyone. When you show kindness and respect to others, you not only gain their respect but also create a positive environment in the military.
On the flip side, it’s crucial not to let others disrespect you. Instead of immediately escalating issues up the chain of command, I believe in starting with open conversations. Engaging in dialogues can often resolve conflicts without causing undue trouble for anyone involved. You can maintain your dignity by keeping boundaries and respecting yourself while promoting a harmonious environment.
Lesson 2: Don’t Take Things Personally
Basic training teaches us not to take things personally, and this is a lesson that applies throughout military service. Orders may come across as harsh or critical, but it’s essential not to internalize these words. More often than not, it’s about fulfilling a duty, not a personal attack. It’s crucial not to dwell on these moments so you can stay focused and emotionally resilient.
Lesson 3: Blend In as a Team Player
While it’s essential to stand out as an individual in your personal life when you’re on duty, the military values teamwork. Don’t try to be too different when you’re on the job, like when you’re in formation or doing your tasks. In the military, it’s somewhat odd to stand out because we’re all part of a team. When you joined the military, you agreed to work together as a team, so it’s best to fit in with the team. When everyone works together, things run better, and your life in the military becomes more manageable—trying to be too much of an individual while on duty can disrupt the team’s harmony. Your role in the military is part of a bigger whole, and embracing that concept helps the military function more efficiently.
However, a word of caution: while you should be a team player while on duty, don’t let the military consume your entire identity. Whether you serve one contract or a full 20 years, your contract will eventually end. Keeping a sense of individuality in your personal life is vital so you don’t feel lost when you finally leave the military, and also lets you switch gears seamlessly when you’re off duty, plus you get to stay grounded.
Lesson 4: Maintain Your Mental Fortitude
To thrive in the military, it’s essential to keep your mental well-being in check. While some resort to alcohol to cope with stress, I’d advise against it. Alcohol is a depressant and not a healthy escape. Instead, consider hitting the gym, journaling, or finding a hobby that brings you joy. These positive outlets can help you weather the challenges that come with military life.
Lesson 5: Actively Care for Your Mental Health
Basic training was particularly hard for me, as it took me away from my creative outlets, like making YouTube videos and blogging.
Find a hobby or an activity to help you get through each day. Basic training proved to be exceptionally challenging for me, as it separated me from writing and prevented me from creating videos, which served as an outlet for my emotions and a means to connect with my family. To cope with this, I found solace in journaling. Some people in boot camp may choose to talk to their peers or write letters home, but I couldn’t bring myself to do the latter because it only made me miss home more, leading to sadness.
Instead, I began jotting down my thoughts and emotions whenever something frustrated me. This practice allowed me to express myself constructively without taking it out on others. Managing your emotions rather than letting them control you is essential, so consider adopting this approach.
As part of my escape from the challenges of military life, I maintain a military information blog where I provide practical advice on the military, insights into military schools, and other resources I’ve found beneficial.
I believe in the power of actively caring for your mental health. In the military, you may find yourself in high-stress situations, and being prepared is crucial. Some people get depressed, and many can’t handle the pressure. To navigate these challenging times, you need a sharp mind and resilience. Part of this involves staying in touch with your mental state, occasionally stepping away from others to recalibrate, and practicing principles such as meditation and self-care.
In conclusion, these five lessons have been invaluable in my military journey, and I hope they can assist you in yours as well. Remember, it’s not just about following orders; it’s about creating a culture of respect and camaraderie. Blend in as a team player on duty but maintain your individuality off duty. Take care of your mental health and find constructive ways to cope with the stresses of military life. I’m here to share my experiences and wisdom with you, and I’m always available for a chat via email (email@example.com) or in the comment section. Together, we can navigate the challenges and triumphs of military life. Stay strong and stay blessed. Peace.