War sucks. But as soldiers, we adapt. We develop habits that increase our chances of survival and make the suck just a little bit more bearable. Some of those habits are worth hanging on to as we transition into the civilian workforce. Others, not so much.
Here’s a list of five work habits we picked up overseas that definitely should not follow us back home.
1. Snuggling your coworkers for warmth.
Look, there’s no shame in snuggling up to your battle buddy on a chilly winter night in the field. It gets lonely in the desert and those military-issued sleeping bags simply don’t cut it in subzero temps. It is, however, unacceptable to snuggle a coworker in a civilian office setting, where that kind of physical contact between colleagues is both frowned upon and completely unnecessary to stay warm. That’s what thermostats are for.
2. Consuming dangerous amounts of caffeine.
Get caught dozing off on the clock and you’ll quickly develop a reputation among your coworkers as a lazy bum. For most folks, one or two cups of coffee in the morning will suffice. But if you’ve ever deployed, chances are your body is used to operating on at least 10 Rip Its before noon. While that’s certainly a great way to increase stamina and focus, it’s also a great way to die of kidney failure.
3. Wearing a reflective belt.
As veterans we know that wearing a reflective belt is the key to staying alive in a war zone. In addition to being mortar proof, these mandatory strips of neon plastic ensure that the wearer maintains maximum visibility at night (to scare off snipers, of course). But when worn over civilian work attire — or any attire, for that matter — the reflective belt looks really, really, really dumb. Our advice: burn that sucker the day you get out.
In Afghanistan, my platoon found a dog. She was covered in ticks and smelled like rotting goat carcasses, but we kept her around because she boosted morale. While adopting a platoon mascot off the trash-strewn streets of Kandahar is fine when you’re at war, here’s the thing about being employed in the civilian world: Feral dogs are a definite no go in the workplace. Why? Because they attack people and carry rabies.
5. Bathing with baby wipes.
Using baby wipes to cleanse your body of filth and grime is essential to maintaining personal hygiene while deployed. The last thing the guys in your platoon need is to constantly smell your moldy balls. But back in the States, where E. coli-free water is abundant, relying exclusively on the baby-wipe bath to stay clean will only lead your civilian colleagues to suspect that you live in a van down by the river. If you do, that’s cool. Just be sure to invest in some soap.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
The Pentagon has identified a Green Beret who was killed on Tuesday by enemy small arms fire in southern Afghanistan as Staff Sgt. Joshua Z. Beale.
Beale was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He was killed during combat operations in Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.
The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard called the ongoing partial government shutdown "unacceptable" following reports that some Coast Guardsmen are relying on donations from food pantries while their regular paychecks remain on hold.
"We're five-plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay," Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message to service members. "You, as members of the armed forces, should not be expected to shoulder this burden."
The M160 Robotic Mine Flail at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Photo: Maj. Dan Marchik/U.S. Army
The battlefield of the future could feature robot medics delivering life-saving care to casualties in the line of fire. At least, that's what the Army is aiming for — and it's willing to pay millions for help doing it.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles was awarded the Medal of Honor July 18, 2016, for his actions while serving as a Flight Commander assigned to the 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) (Light), 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, Americal Division. Then-Maj. Kettles distinguished himself in combat operations near Duc Pho, Republic of Vietnam, on May 15, 1967. (U.S. Army/Spc. Tammy Nooner)
YPSILANTI, MI - When a brigade of U.S. troops was ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army in the Song Tra Cau riverbed on the morning of May 15, 1967, Lt. Charles Kettles volunteered to lead the rescue, and he refused, again and again, to back down when faced with a barrage of gunfire.
His aircraft badly damaged, left spilling fuel, and his gunner was severely injured during the treacherous operation.
But he helicoptered in and out of the battlefield four times, saving the lives of 44 soldiers in a death-defying emergency operation that would become a legendary tale of bravery in the Vietnam War.