Serving in the military can be a life changing experience.
New habits and ways of life are quickly adopted, and servicemembers find themselves acting nearly uniformly.
And these shared habits go beyond just the time in the military.
Responding to the question “To ex-military: What habit lasted the most?” on Reddit, a number of veterans shared routines and customs that they had adopted in the military that continued to stick with them years later into civilian life.
We have shared some of the most illuminating habits below.
For some veterans, the main habits that stuck with them related to seemingly mundane activities such as making sure to stay off the grass while walking outside. One Army veteran said “I’ve been out nearly fifteen years, and I’m still very wary of walking on the grass.”
His experience was echoed by a number of other Army veterans. Another veteran shared, in response, how he first learned to avoid the grass at all costs:
First week in the big green army. I didn’t know shit about shit, just got my TA-50 from CIF and was returning to the barracks. I was walking past battalion when someone yelled at me, something like “Hey, Dick, stop right there!”
Dropped my duffel bag, “Y-yes, Sergeant!!”
“What does that sign say right there?”
I look around frantically, what [f—ing] sign? Oh, like two feet to my front right. “Keep off grass, Sergeant!”
That [f—er] had me low crawling across the grass with all of my TA-50 for like 2-3 hours. Just dragging my rucksack and duffel bag back and forth.
Many years later, his retirement was announced on Facebook. I commented with that story. His response was, “I bet you stayed off the grass after that.”
Veteran “68w” noted that, beyond staying off the grass, his time in the military drilled into him a host of other habits that were impossible to exorcise without extreme care and attention.
“I’m still 15 min prior to everything. I have even infected my coworkers with this. I still take my hat off indoors,” 68w writes. “I have to purposely slow my eating. I still have an incredibly vulgar mouth. With this comes a proficiency with shit talking that gets me in trouble, as I do not know when to stop.”
Of course, some habits acquired in the military do have real practical worth that proves to be extremely useful in civilian life — even if a little strange for those who have never been exposed to the rationale behind the behaviour.
Army veteran “airborneAnDrowdy” notes that he still has to pack for trips in a certain way: “Been out 5 years. Socks man. Still in balls.”
Others in the Reddit thread quickly agreed, noting that the habit of packing all clothes in ziplock bags to ensure that they wouldn’t get wet also stuck. And airborneAnDrowdy concurred, saying that he only stopped packing in such a way in response to “the wife’s ‘recommendation.'”
But not all habits learned in the military are necessarily perfect for civilian life.
An Air Force veteran shared, to the near unanimous approval from the Reddit military community, his hardest habit to kick is: “Extreme vulgarity, sadly.”
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