It is What It is: 10 Things Military Veterans Just Do
by Marshall McGurk
No person leaves the military the same as when they entered. Here are some things Veterans do after some time in the military:
- Sitting towards a door or exit. Spouses and family members, don’t try to change this in your veteran. If your wife wants to sit towards the door to have the exits covered, let her. If your husband feels calmer protecting his family from a position of advantage, let him sit there. You can tell when a veteran walks into a place because they scan the exits, avenues of approach, and escape routes in the event of an emergency. If they exercise their right to conceal carry, this is definitely happening. Speaking of conceal carry…
- Conceal carry or gun ownership. First rule of a gunfight is having one in the first place. A good defense requires offensive tools. We teach our family members to respect those tools. We train on those tools regularly. Speaking of training…
- Veterans train. We don’t diet or exercise; we eat right and train. Physical fitness, mental fortitude, spiritual bolstering, it’s all there. We train at the range, in the gym, at home. Even the portly retiree with the war veteran ball cap will bust up bad guys in the back alley because he has the mental fortitude to manage violence and come out successful.
- Combat parking the POV. Ever see anyone pull out fast on QRF by backing out of a spot? Nah, me neither. Especially useful when trying to get your battle buddies out of a bar after someone yells “Ranger Down.”
- Tattoos. Rare is the combat veteran who doesn’t have at least one tattoo. It is a way to tell a story. Rarer still is the veteran who has just one.
- P.A.C.E. plans for the simplest things. Whether you’re going to the grocery store or road trips, there is a bug-out bag in the car, jumper cables, space blanket, a reflective vest or belt, maybe even a jacket and gloves. There is certainly a first aid bag with seat belt cutters and tourniquets. Never know when you’re going to pop a tire or come up on an accident. Likely there is a weapon in there too, depending on the State law.
- Traveling long distances for weddings, funerals, or because a comrade needs you. Family members, don’t try to change this either. The military is a family and specific units (Ranger Regiment, SF) have their own family within it. Be there when your brothers and sisters need you and they will be there for you. A Green Beret friend of mine from the Cold War-era dropped everything for 6 months to be with a 20th SFG (A) Soldier at Walter Reed after he’d been blown up in Afghanistan. My wife and I drove 8 hours to see the internment of a retiree we’d never met. Over a dozen of us, all strangers, were there. Lifelong familial bonds were formed that weekend. It is just what you do.
- The two C’s: Coffee and Copenhagen (or Camels). Bound to happen at least once. Coffee daily.
- Packing Mastery. We can tell the 50lb limit by a quick snatch of the bag and better believe we can pack it to 49.99 lbs with everything we need and then some. Two week trip, one carry on bag, no problem. That’s why they have laundromats…or usually we’re staying with a battle buddy since we have friends everywhere.
- Never wearing sandals (or at least wearing sandals you can run in). I rolled up on a car accident and had to kick out a front windshield while wearing stylish but worthless-in-the-moment leather slides. Glass cut the tops of my feet. I didn’t wear sandals for three years after that, unless I was on the beach. Don’t be surprised if your veteran is always ready to move out and draw fire.__________________________________________________
This first appeared in The Havok Journal March 28, 2019.
Marshall McGurk served nearly five years with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) after a stint with the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). He enjoys scotch, cigars, good books, foreign films, and critical thinking. He is passionate about international relations, domestic affairs, and successful veteran transition. He serves in the Army Reserve. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
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