I Never Thought I’d Say This, But I Miss the Military. May 28 2015 8 Comments
While I enjoyed being in the military, I disliked the feeling of being tied down--carrying the weight of one decision I had made that essentially affected my life, at least, for the next couple of years. I can’t think of many other jobs that require you to sign a contract to stay for X amount of years, except for something like signing a music contract (I wish) or, you know, playing for the Yankees. So, a few months before I got out I couldn’t wait--I was excited! I was looking forward to a new chapter in my life, and I recall thinking a number of times, “I will never, EVER miss the Army or this place.” As it turned out, I was wrong. I do miss it, and here are just a few reasons why:
(Image Source: https://www.dvidshub.net/image/303388/army-reserve-2010-best-warrior-competition-army-physical-fitness-test#.VWaGGFxVikrby SFC Mark Burrell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.)
Although I desperately try to stay in shape now, it was so much easier when someone else told me to exercise. Exercising at 6:30 am was tough, especially if I had a late night before. However, I figured that if I was out of bed and on the field, I would get the most out of it. I pushed myself every morning and many evenings to be in the best shape of my life. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy when it isn’t part of your workday.
(Image Source: https://flic.kr/p/6SWzFD Phillip Stewart identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.)
I don’t care what you say, even if the food wasn’t great, you pretty much always had access to a meal cooked for you. Even an MRE required little preparation: just heat and eat. And yes, I will still trade you my M&M’s for your peanut butter.
If you are lucky enough in the civilian sector to get a uniformed job, cherish it, don’t take it for granted! I always knew what to wear every day; no guesswork. No matching, no ironing, no color-coordinating, no high heels. You get the point. It was easier, and let’s face it, much more comfortable!
(Image Source:: https://flic.kr/p/8cG9uK By: DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence, U.S. Air Force. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Angelita M. Lawrence, U.S. Air Force.)
Although I took a handful of college courses while I was enlisted, I was an idiot for not taking more. Free. College. Classes. A perk provided while on active duty. Sure, it’s tough to balance work with school, but it’s worth it when you realize that the benefits far outweigh the negatives (especially when one is temporary and the other is permanent). I seriously miss this perk, and yes it is true, I used the G.I. Bill after leaving the service to earn a degree. I only imagine how much farther I could have gone, had I dedicated more time to my education while I was still serving.
(Image Source: https://www.dvidshub.net/news/148972/leadership-gives-holiday-gift-barracks-marines photo by: by Cpl Unique B. Roberts)
Before someone says it, yes, you were charged some crazy, minuscule food/housing fee when you first joined the military and stayed in the barracks, but in all seriousness, where else do you get a furnished place and three meals for just a few dollars a day? Some days when I’m paying my rent, food, utilities, and clothing, I miss those simple days--Minus the random G.I. parties.
Vacation Time / Leave
Since I have left the military, I have not had a civilian job that has ever provided me 30 days of paid vacation time a year. At my last corporate job, it was a luxury just to have 2 weeks of paid vacation time a year and most of those days I kept on reserve for if my son got sick. Having 30 days a year, plus additional 3-4 day weekends, made visiting friends and family a much more frequent and easier occurrence than now.
(Image Source:: https://flic.kr/p/8kxH4n Photographer: unknown)
Friendship has to be at the top of my list of things that I miss the most. Let’s face it-- if and when you prepare to go to war with a group of strangers, you pretty much form an instant bond and a friendship that no one else in the civilian world can understand. For most of us, these friendships literally meant laying your life on the line for someone else. Most of my closest friendships to this day are a result of my time in the military and I treasure them above all else.
-Nadine Noky, Army Veteran & Founder of LadyBrigade.com