Spotting a soldier or military veteran isn’t all that difficult. Those who have served their country carry themselves differently than the rest of us. Their outlook on life, attitude, stance, walk…it’s all very distinct! Those who have been in the military will relate to this list, and those who didn’t serve can get some good tips on how to point them out…oh, and get a good laugh!
Floor = Bed
Not only is basic training grueling, but it also prepares soldiers for all encounters possible. The ability to sleep anywhere is an art…and soldiers have sure mastered it! This guy looks just as comfortable on the airport floor as he would in his comfortable bed at home. The most remarkable thing is that as soldiers are trained, he’d be up and at attention in seconds if need be! For now, rest up!
Soldiers are required to always be presentable; meaning uniform in place and ironed to a tee. Soldiers are masters at folding and ironing. Notice how you never see a soldier wearing a creased uniform? That’s on purpose!
The Way You Walk
Soldiers have a very distinct way of walking; think: stiff, fast and at attention. Anyone who has been in the military can be pointed out from a mile away. Just look for a controlled pace, and someone walking with purpose. Like a kid at a candy store!
Ever hear someone say “it’s 15 o’clock”, rather than “it’s 3 o’clock”? Odds are, they’re a soldier or ex-military! In the army, they go by military time, which is a 24-hour clock. Forget AM and PM!
Love your long luscious locks? Too bad…in the army it’s nothing but a simple buzz-cut! This is why when many soldiers finish their service, they will grow their hair long.
Scanning and assessing situations is important in any career involved in helping civilians. Just like police and firemen, soldiers also need to read situations quickly, and act accordingly. Have you ever noticed your ex-military friend scan a room? Don’t be alarmed, it’s second-nature for them by now.
Standing At Ease
Standing “at ease” is when soldiers stand with their hands behind their backs and their feet shoulder-width apart. While to non-military it doesn’t look so comfortable, soldiers are used to it and find it quite comfortable after awhile.
Sir And Ma’am
Respect is a huge part of military standards; don’t be surprised to hear sir and ma’am often. Did you know that failing to use these titles is seen as disrespectful?
Soldiers are conditioned to eat quickly…war does not wait. Whether they have to get back on the battlefield, or get back to their posts, they usually aren’t given an abundance of time for meals. If you’re having a meal with a military friend and you notice that they are racing through the meal…don’t take it personally! They’re probably just stuck in their military ways!
Did you know that upon joining the military, soldiers must learn a new language? Well not exactly, but they must learn a bunch of new phrases and jargons! “Roger that”, “affirmative”, and “negative” are common phrases used during the military. Don’t be surprised if a soldier out of the military for 20 years still uses those terms!
It’s quite common to curse in the military…we guess hard times equal hard words! But, we wouldn’t recommend introducing yourself to a veteran as “Hi, *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*”. Remember, everything in moderation and at the right time and place!
Just as uniforms need to be ironed and cleaned to a tee, boots are no exception! The boots are the most important item of clothing and they therefore need to be extremely shiny…always!
While most people’s fridges are decorated with family photos, or kept clean with no knick-knacks at all, soldier’s fridges are something completely different altogether. You can find clues of a veteran’s service with military magnets, war memorabilia or souvenirs from different missions.
Just as saying “sir” and “ma’am” is commonplace, so is saluting! A salute is another form of a greeting for soldiers, so don’t be alarmed if you are saluted! If anything, it’s showing a sign of respect to you!
Another lingo soldiers use is “the mess”. This is what those in the military refer to what most of us call the kitchen!
Call Of Duty
The video game Call Of Duty is super popular among soldiers. But, as opposed to civilians, soldiers know how far-fetched the game actually is to reality! Carrying over 6 rifles and a grenade launcher is not as easy as the game makes it appear!
Black Paint Or ‘Boot-Topping’?
Ever heard of boot-topping? If you haven’t, it’s a black coating with a thick, liquidy consistency that’s used to lather the area between the deck and the waterline. It’s also made of lime and sulfur! While it’s pretty common for non-military to get boot-topping and black paint mixed up, military personnel can detect the difference in seconds.
Quiet In Line
Have you ever noticed that soldiers and veterans are quite quiet people? It’s because they were trained to be calm and collected and extremely still when standing in line. This is attributed to the extreme discipline soldiers receive in the army.
Checking Your Car
Safety is key for the army. Soldiers must always check their vehicle before a mission. This is to ensure the helicopter, fighter jet, tank, or whatever mode of transportation, is safe and prepared. It’s very common for ex-military to check their car before getting in it…again, just out of habit!
Home Chore List
Thought chore lists were primarily for kids? Think again. The military uses chore lists to ensure everyone is on task and aware of their duties. Many soldiers continue chore lists at home after finishing their service.
Skip The Fireworks
Soldiers aren’t usually the biggest fireworks fans. This is because they have experienced the real kind of fireworks in real life, on the battlefield. The loud bangs will probably bring back unpleasant, and even traumatizing memories.
Soldiers in the military in higher rank positions will adopt a power stance. Their posture will exude more confidence and power than that of a soldier of a lower rank.
Soldiers who serve together are often good friends for life. Army bonds men and women, so it only makes sense that their team or unit becomes family. You watch out for your family and make sure they are safe. Soldiers literally trust the others in their unit with their life.
Speaking In A.C.R.O.N.Y.M.S.
Not only do soldiers have to be familiar with phrases and jargons, but also with acronyms! It’s much easier to communicate long sentences using acronyms, so it is readily adopted. Think words like WAG, BOHICA, and SNAFU.
We often honk on the road to alert another driver of something, right? Well in the military they use two honks to alert someone when they are backing up. Many soldiers will continue this practice once discharged…so watch out!
Soldiers past and present have utmost respect for the country itself, and especially for the American flag. Count on soldiers standing and saluting whenever an American flag is raised.
Back To The Wall
A safety tactic the military uses is always to keep your back to a wall, that way you have eyes on everything in front of you, and nothing or no one can come from behind by surprise. Military personnel often choose the last row in movie theaters, and the seat in a restaurant with the wall behind it for that very reason.
As you already know, soldiers are very neat, clean, and organized…discipline people! Their beds are just as important as their uniforms and boots…no unmade beds here! They must make their beds using “Hospital corners”. This ensure all beds look the same…think of the beds as soldiers who need their own uniform as well!
War Movie Frustration
Don’t count on a soldier to accompany you to the movies on cheap movie Tuesdays. Hollywood rarely depicts the reality of war in films; they actually seem to get it way off.
Whistling In The Loo
Although its origin is a mystery, soldiers are known to pee while using the bathroom! Don’t forget to belt out your best tune the next time you take a tinkle!
A knife hand is the hand gesture a person makes when they are explaining something. It is a flat, tight position with all of the fingers in alignment. People out of the military will continue to use it, especially when giving directions.
Getting Up Early
If a soldier tells you they slept in that morning, they probably mean 7, 7:30 the latest. It’s a habit for soldiers to rise early thanks to basic training and deployment. The habit then sticks forever.
When a soldier “pops smoke”, it creates a shield or diversion. If you hear a veteran saying “I’m popping smoke”, you can expect that he or she is leaving the room or the building.
Army food is no better than airplane food, it actually may be worse. When the food you’re given is dry or liquid, you need to do everything in your power to make it edible. That’s where Tabasco sauce comes in. Soldiers swear by it.
The National Anthem
When the USA’s national anthem comes on, don’t be surprised to see a soldier begin to tear up or see a twinkle in their eye. The Star Spangled Banner is the music to the flag and the soundtrack to a soldier’s life.
Always Early, Never Late
While many people show up to events late, military personnel will never follow suit. This is a hard no. Soldiers are always early, not on time and never ever late. Time is accountability, remember.
Instead of long explanations, soldiers are used to briefings. Soldiers like to get straight to the point with just the important things. They don’t like when people talk too much with too much information and emotion.
Don’t expect your military friend to run with headphones on blasting Queen or Celine Dion. Soldiers are used to running to their own heavy breathing and the sound of their footsteps on the ground.
When you are issued a gun, it becomes a part of your body. All soldiers know and live by this mantra. No matter where you go, your gun is coming. Even when you’re out of the military, this still holds true.
Losing Your Gun
Losing or misplacing your gun is a HUGE deal. Ex-soldiers who no longer carry a gun often have dreams that they have misplaced their weapon. We can’t imagine the relief they feel when they wake up from that nightmare.
It is very common for soldiers to use the military phonetic alphabet to spell out words. For example, the letter “j” is known as “juliet” and the letter “d” is known as “delta”. Your friends may be having a conversation right next to you but you’ll have no idea what they’re saying.
Ex-military continue to take short showers since they are so used to it from their service. Overseas, they’re a necessity and not a luxury. With time of the essence and the way those showers look, it makes sense!
Soldiers often feel more comfortable wearing sunglasses, no matter the weather or the time of day. Soldiers out of the military will continue this habit, and often wear them indoors as well!
Talking During The Anthem
Soldiers absolutely hate when people speaking during the national anthem. It is this tune that got them through some of their hardest times, and they’d appreciate if you showed a little respect.
Soldiers always run towards danger, never away from it, no matter what’s going on. This includes in enemy war-zones. This habit continues in civilian life and includes running toward a cat stuck in a tree.
You know you’ve run into a real soldier when they’re constantly saying, “say again”. They’ll replace “excuse me” or “pardon me” with it. Those two words are hard to shake loose since many soldiers continue this habit once back home.
Finding The Exits
No matter where a soldier goes, you can expect them to find the area’s exit points. They’ve been trained to do this in case of an emergency evacuation. The mall, the football stadium, even family dinner…they know how to get out.
Right Hand Free
If a soldier is right-handed, his or her right hand will always be free. Same goes for a left-handed person and their left hand. Soldiers are conditioned to always keep their “strong” hand available.
Hands In Pockets
Having your hands in your pockets means it’ll take you a second longer to have them at the ready. This is why soldiers will rarely ever rest their hands in their pockets. A power stance with hands on the hips is more like it.
Quiet During Announcements
When military personnel hear an announcement, no matter if it’s on the battlefield, at the airport, or the grocery store, they will be at attention. They are used to not making a peep when receiving orders.
If you’re going for a quick trip to the park 5 minutes down the road, you’ll plan an alternate route – in case anything happens. Military won’t rely on a single route, a back-up plan is always crucial in case something occurs.
Brass To The Grass
“Brass to the grass” is a term only military will get. It’s a clear signal someone isn’t a soldier if they don’t know this. When discharged, soldiers will continue to say it, you can be sure of that.
A “gig line” is the straightest line one has ever seen. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s safe to say you haven’t had to obsess over it like our military friends have.
No Word Is Gold
No matter what you’ve been told or what you’ve heard, nothing is happening until it is actually happening. Anything and everything can be reversed or cancelled in a second, so never take a command as the final word when talking to a soldier.
Soldiers aren’t used to hearing, or even knowing the first names of many of their friends and commanders. This is because last names are only readily used in the military and are the only important name.