Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Getting out of the military can be a challenging time, especially for those who only served one enlistment and are heading to college. In my case, I dropped out of school in 2008 and enlisted, then in 2012 left the Marines and returned to college, except this time I had a new identifier permanently affixed to myself. I was now a veteran, but I had no idea how that one little detail was going to impact and alter how I behaved. I felt like I was equipped with a wealth of experience far beyond my peers. I’d gone to war, done some stuff, and now I was going to show these civilians just how easy they had it. Post-military life would be a cinch and I’d be making mad bank in no time.
I was full of shit, and it’s taken me awhile to realize how naive and unprepared I was when I left the Corps, mostly because I let my veteran status go to my head. I didn’t make much of an effort to get to know my classmates or colleagues, nor did I maintain or hold on to the positive habits I developed in the Marines, like staying in shape. Instead, I rode the coattails of my four short years of service, only to realize later that I wasn’t nearly as mature or grown up as I thought. To help others avoid making the same mistakes, here’s what I failed to understand when I left the military.
1. You still have to pay your dues.
The military instills in its members a wide range of technical skills, but the most valuable thing I learned from my time in was how to deal with bullshit. I was a public affairs Marine, yeah, a POG and a short-timer, who somehow got it into his head that four years writing glorified propaganda would land me a job as a civilian journalist. Dead wrong. I had to start right at the bottom, working as an unpaid intern for a year, before finally getting the chance to be a paid intern, and then eventually, got a real job. If it hadn’t been for my time in the Marines and the high bullshit tolerance that came with it, I doubt I would have stuck it out.
2. It’s okay to civilianize yourself.
By the time I EAS’d, I couldn’t wait to be a civilian again. Then I got out, went to college on the GI Bill and couldn’t shut up about the fact that I was a veteran (an experience I’ve since realized is pretty common.) In college, whenever Iraq or Afghanistan came up, I missed out on a lot of opportunities for personal growth because I was in too big of a hurry to toot my own horn to my civilian peers, rather than take the time to hear what they had to say on the topic. After spending the last four years largely defined by military service, it wasn’t that easy to just let go of it, but there’s nothing wrong with toning it down.
3. You’re probably gonna get a little fat.
Transitioning from an environment where you worked out five days a week to one where you work out whenever you want, it’s easy to let fitness slide. After all you’re no longer being paid to stay in shape, so gym time is often sacrificed in lieu of work or school. Personally, I don’t hold to the idea that as a veteran you need to maintain the same level of fitness you had when you were in, but an easy way to keep from packing on the pounds is to either a) keep working out, or b) just cut down on the late night Domino’s and 12-packs of light beer.
4. Getting out isn’t all freedom cake and giant stacks of money.
It was easy for me to lose sight of just how easy I had it when I was in. I had a steady paycheck (even if it was small), free health insurance, dental, housing (single Marine barracks life), and chow... yet I was convinced that the grass on the other side was greener and more well-manicured than the base general’s lawn. Turns out the civilian job market is hell, rent is expensive, everyone gets paid shit, and what money you rake in goes toward things like food, insurance, and assorted bills. On that note:
5. You will never have free health insurance ever again.
While health care was pretty great in the military, you rarely get to use it — show of hands if anyone actually had more than a few “sick days” while they were in. Yeah, same here. But it was free — and spending a few hundred dollars a month for insurance, which you may or may not need, is brutal. (And once you start a family, you’re gonna need it, for sure.) While you can certainly rely on the VA for medical care, that can be tough, since it’s really not designed to function like your typical doctor’s office.
6. Being a veteran does not qualify you as an expert on all things.
Sure, it makes sense to drop the veteran card when you’re talking about something directly related to your military service, but that’s about it. You don’t want to be the guy who overuses it, constantly bringing up his one year at KAF to back up his views on everything from complex foreign policy issues to how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood, to whether or not “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was a fresh take on the franchise, or a rip off of Episode IV.
It totally was a rip-off, though. I mean, as a veteran, I watched Star Wars all the time in Afghanistan and can say without a… Fuck. My bad.
Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.
MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.
Trump: $6.1 billion in DoD money going to border wall wasn’t for anything that seemed ‘too important to me’
President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."
Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.
"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."