Carl Forsling is a senior columnist for Task & Purpose. He is a Marine MV-22B pilot and former CH-46E pilot who is retired from the military after 20 years of service. He is the father of two children and a graduate of Boston University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers board an aircraft to begin the first leg of their deployment in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. (Georgia National Guard/Maj. William Carraway)
As veterans, it's easy to believe all the popular hype that the military is filled with heroes. From football games to the movies, military members are lionized, not on an individual basis, but on a collective one. The average citizen would be hard pressed to name one Medal of Honor recipient, but would probably say without hesitation that all the troops are heroes.
Whether a day out of boot camp or a 30-year combat vet, everyone who's worn a uniform is a modern-day Captain America. That's great, and perhaps a welcome change from how people viewed the military after Vietnam.
Unfortunately, too many vets believe their own PR, and subscribe to what I'd call the “veteran superiority complex."
The New Year makes it three-and-a-half years since I retired from the Marine Corps. I've had a few challenges, but I was still better off than a lot of folks. I had a couple of degrees to my name and a transferable skill from the military. But as in anything, somebody always has it easier than you and somebody always has it tougher.
Some people seem to live charmed lives and are Instagram-worthy at all times. It's alright to hate those people, by the way. Others stumble so badly as civilians you wonder how they managed to successfully navigate the frozen food section at the commissary without starving to death.
I don't claim to have any special insight other than a combination of stumbling and success, which might be the right combination of experiences to give others some tips.
On February 19, 1999, the world changed forever. Office Space came out. It wasn't a box office sensation. It only made $12 million. But the VHS (the what?), DVD, and all the different streaming versions of it would change workplaces forever.
Oddly enough, one of the workplaces that Office Space perfectly captures is the military. Whether it's on a movie screen in a base theater or a laptop in troop berthing, service members have seen themselves in Office Space for 20 years now.
A movie meant to mock the daily drudgery of office drones also captured the lives of everyone from admin clerks to grunts to pilots.
A U.S. Soldier with D Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, conducts routine maintenance on a AH-64 Apache helicopter on Aug. 29, 2018, at Katterbach Army Airfield in Ansbach, Germany. The Army continues to identify ways that existing technology could be employed or re-combined to produce better products at lower cost.(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Charles Rosemond)
One of the recurring complaints about the military is that it doesn't take well to new ideas. By its very nature, the military has a structure that lends itself to ideas becoming orders from the top down.
The path of least resistance is certainly to shut up and color.
An ad from Gillette blew up the Internet earlier this month. You've seen it. The one that says men need to do better. It strikes against bullying and sexual harassment...you know, toxic masculinity.
The usual vetflakes and emotionally fragile reactionaries immediately went into spasms of rage over the idea that a company was telling them that they shouldn't catcall women or let a kid get beaten by an unruly mob chasing him.
Some people are legitimately outraged by the idea that young men shouldn't be giving each other beatdowns. A not insignificant group feels seriously threatened by being told to be better.