Once you’ve spent a while in the military a lot of things civilians have to do seem pretty strange. Unfortunately when soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines try interacting with the big civilian world, they look at us like we’re the strange ones. Here are five points where military and civilian life are pretty far apart.
Troops, don’t forget that they do things differently out there.
Everyone else, this is why we look baffled at some of the stuff you ask us.
- Find a place to live. For most Americans this a normal part of life. Either you save up for a deposit or work out what you can afford to pay a landlord, then you go looking for a place to buy or rent. For most American military personnel, not so much. Singles get allocated a bedspace – often their own room these days – in barracks. Married couples qualify for family accommodation, usually on post. There’s not a lot of choice involved sometimes, but there isn’t much hassle either. Finding a home the civilian way can seem very complicated to a soldier.
- Worry about health care. The Affordable Care Act has a lot of people confused. Pretty much any health care system has the military even more confused, though. Active duty personnel can use military clinics, hospitals and even dentists as part of their benefits package. Dependents are often covered too. Negotiating the minefields of deductibles, provider networks and all the rest needs careful research – it’s not as easy outside the military system.
- Follow unwritten rules. If you hire an ex-soldier, be prepared for some surprises. A lot of companies have unwritten rules about how things are supposed to be done. Military personnel are used to the UCMJ outlining how things are supposed to be done, but as long as it doesn’t break those rules, everything else is fair game. And because service people are just bursting with initiative, you might find some unorthodox solutions being applied. Don’t worry though; military-style solutions tend to have one big thing in common. They work.
- Work from 9-5. Those are just numbers. In the military, work doesn’t stop when the big hand is at 12 and the little hand is at 5. Work stops when the job is done. How many hours are in the working week? Well, how long is it going to take? The military has a can-do attitude that aims for results, not clock watching. Punctuality is important and taken very seriously but it’s an enabler, not a limit.
- Worry about what to wear. Is the cut of this suit up to date enough for a conference with the boss? Are striped ties in or out? Lace-ups or loafers? Civilians actually have to worry about all this stuff. In the military it’s a lot simpler. Somewhere, hanging from a notice board on a wall near you, is a printed order telling you what to wear. On a shelf in your command offices is a big book telling you how your hair will be cut and what you need to be doing with that iron. It’s easy.
Some of the contrasts between military and civilian life look pretty scary from either side; others just look amusing. Never forget, though – one day, eventually, you’ll be a civilian again. Things are a lot more complicated out there, and you can’t ask your SNCO for advice when you get stuck. Do careful research and know exactly what your next step should be.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.