What’s the best piece of advice you ever got in the military?

Let us know.
Max Hauptman Avatar
Lance Cpls. Ryan Snyder, a 21-year-old team leader from Kapolei, Hawaii, and David Lambert, a 21-year-old mortarman from Granbury, Texas, assigned to the 81mm Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, talk while providing security from their defensive position as the sun sets while deployed to the Garmsir District, Helmand province, Afghanistan in 2012. (Cpl. Reece Lodder/U.S. Marine Corps)

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten in the military? Maybe it’s how to get out of a particularly bad staff duty shift. Maybe it’s how to ratfuck one particular MRE. Maybe it’s just some general career advice on how to make your way through the Navy, or the Marine Corps, or the Army or the Air Force or even, at this point, the Space Force. 

But how to succeed in military service is always passed down among the ranks.  Speaking as a former slick-sleeved second lieutenant showing up to a unit, the best advice I received was simply, “Shut up, and listen to your NCOs.” Thank you to Staff Sgt. Warren for that one. 

Other pieces of advice from the Task & Purpose team included: 

“If you figure out you’re stupid just be quiet and no one else will know,” said Marine vet Travis Pike.

Can’t argue with that. 

“Do your time and do it well. They can fuck with you all day long, but they can’t slow down time,” said Kyle Gunn, a former Marine. 

“Do everything you can with your soldiers, lead from the front, and don’t be a douchebag,” said a former Army captain. 

Subscribe to Task & Purpose Today. Get the latest military news, entertainment, and gear in your inbox daily.

For the lower enlisted, Matt Towns, a former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, says, “”Be in the right place, in the right uniform, at the right time, with the right attitude”.

Also, Towns added “If you’re in charge, take charge. A decent decision right now is better than a perfect decision tomorrow”.

And, ultimately, just be highly motivated. 

“Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care,” says Marine Matthew Sampson, of some words of advice from his gunnery sergeant. 

So, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten while serving in the armed forces? A good bar in South Korea? The best bunk spots on a U.S. Navy ship? How can you best spend a 3-day weekend in the Marine Corps? Let us know in the comments, on social media, or reach out directly via email at

The latest on Task & Purpose

Want to write for Task & Purpose? Click here. Or check out the latest stories on our homepage.