Veteran’s Day has come and gone and I noted the many veterans who contributed pictures reflecting their proud status as a veteran. I thought it might be interesting to share a little insight into what goes into the recipie that results in earning the title “veteran”. I am talking about the initial transformation from an ordinary person into a person who can say he or she is a veteran.
This transformation begins in a phenomenon called Basic Training, or boot camp. It is shocking, character building and intimidating…….but oh so necessary and rewarding. We all remember the experience a little differently, the highs and lows, and we all benefitted from the experience. It was during these first weeks that you were introduced to the 8 concepts mentioned below. Let’s get started.
- LEADERSHIP. The military represents a pecking order on steroids! The very visible indicators of rank and status are prominately displayed and your response to this rank and structure is quickly imprinted in your transforming mind.
- TEAMWORK. Atheletics and the military have much in common, however; the stakes are different. A blown assignment on a football field results in a loss of yardage, a blown assignment on the battlefield results in the death of a soldier.
- LIMITATIONS. Your personal limitations become your constant companion. I was paired with a fellow named Anthony Roosakis in a fun little pastime referred to as pugil stick drill. This little exercise is comprised of a helmet, groin protector and a stick with the ends padded that you use to beat the hell out of each other in a pit. Anthony was a madman, sporting a tattoo reflecting his birth as the product of hell, who delighted in beating his opponent senselesss. He was also big, fast and not the sharpest pencil in the box. I came out of the pit with a clear understanding of my limitations!
- MEANING OF TIME. In basic training, you are interested in two specific time related concepts, the time when you are delivered to your drill instructor, fresh off the bus, and the time when you board the same bus after graduating.
- CLEANLINESS. A veteran knows how to make a bed and how to clean a bathroom, lovingly referred to as a latrine in the military. A spoon, in the mess hall, is clean when it is ready for use in a surgical procedure. I benefited from a particularly nasty exercise in cleanliness as our company endured an IG inspection during our cycle. This is a rigorous inspection where folks are particularly attentive to calling attention to such glaring lapses in cleaning your barracks as a water spot UNDER a sink in the latrine.
- MARKSMANSHIP. You learn to shoot, period. You learn the nomenclature of the weapons of war, how to properly care for these same weapons and how to kill a man with them. It is why you are here, and forms the basis for everything else you may or may not do in the military.
- PROPER CARE OF FOOTWEAR. My attention is drawn to the shoes of the people I meet. I believe you can tell alot about a person by the amount of effort they put into maintaining their shoes. A veteran knows how to maintain his footwear, period. To all of the folks that I have interviewed over the years, rest assured the condition of your footwear was factored into my assessment of your potential in the position under consideration.
- RESPECT. An element necessary when this respect and deference to order may put you in a position that gets you killed. You are being trained for a high stakes event, otherwise known as combat, and you must respect those who command you and those you command. You quickly learn not to confuse “respect” with “like”, the two are not synonymous…….believe me.
There are obviously many other life skills that enure from a veterans initial introduction into the military, and veterans will have a bucket full of anecdotal examples that comprise their experience. The ability to live in a structured environment, forever shapes your perspective as life goes on. Veterans, in their basic training experience, are subjected to structure at levels they may never see again…….and will benefit from for the rest of their lives.
You don’t get this training in prep school………