Soldiers Break Down Which Things They Wish They Knew Before They Enlisted
Defence-Imagery from Pixabay

Being a soldier isn't at all like what many people think it's like.

For one thing, it's actually quite boring. Yes, you read that correctly.

There are long stretches of time, particularly in the infantry, where soldiers don't really have much to do, if anything at all. Some of the soldiers I've spoken to (who've since left service) have recoiled telling me about that.

They said it was a big shock for them.

I have a relative who also said he thought being a soldier would be far more exciting than it actually is. He was surprised to find out otherwise.


Redditor GeofryGold asked the online community:

"Soldiers of Reddit, what's something you wish you knew before you enlisted?"

"Couldn't have a phone out..."

How godawful BORED you're going to be 99% of the time. I was in the infantry, and it seemed like 99% of our time was spent sitting around doing nothing. And at the units I was in, that literally meant NOTHING. Couldn't have a phone out, so you just sat there, from 9 am to 5 pm, or really until 4:45 pm, when they'd magically find a conex you need to 100%.

That, and you'll be punished for other people screwing up. I can't tell you the number of times I was standing in formation at 1:15 AM on a Friday night/Saturday morning because some idiot got a DUI, and that meant everyone got punished because of it.

RepairmanJacked

What did I tell you about that boredom, huh?

Crazy, right?

Let's continue.

"Magical night."

Getting pulled out of bed at 2330, to sit in the basement of battalion while the MPs and dogs searched the barracks for drugs. Magical night.

Fractal_Pterodactyls

"The military..."

"The military doesn't care about you. You can be the best in everything, they can still discard you like you never existed."

William84000

This one...

...definitely hurts. The truth often does.

"Be sure..."

Be sure to get an MOS that translates to a civilian job. That way you have a skill set that you can use on the outside.

saltnotsugar

"That I'd go through training..."

That it wasn't a band of brothers.

That I'd go through training with a bunch of guys who never should have graduated high school and in many cases were only not in jail by luck and circumstance.

That no matter how loyal you are, if you lose your current spot, even with exemplary ratings you may be denied re-enlistment due to budget concerns - basically no loyalty back to you.

That you will be expected to do your job in ways that are dangerous, negligent and often illegal because the resources don't exist for you to do it right, and it is YOUR @ss on the line - basically no loyalty back to you.

I met some truly good people that made me proud to serve. I wasn't in long enough to feel as though I have the right to call myself a veteran though I am, and honorably discharged.

But the only branch I will support a child of mine joining is the Air Force, and even then I'll be very careful about coaching them on picking their MOS and to remember it is a job as political as high school or any cube farm.

StorkyStorky

"You can find yourself..."

How much of a difference there can be between units. You can find yourself hating your experience and chalking it up to it just being how military life is, but rather than getting out as soon as you can, it might just take a transfer to completely turn things around.

specterthepatboone

"It didn't happen to me..."

Definitely do your own research on MOS and don't listen to your recruiter, even if he/she claims to have been that MOS or worked directly with them. Look it up for yourself.

Assuming this is about the American Army, you'll meet the absolute best and worst that America has to offer. Everything from "that guy is an actual hero" to "that piece of s*** beats his wife."

It didn't happen to me, but one thing you should know is that it's very easy to accidentally break your end of the contract... you do that, and you're f*****. Had a couple guys in AIT fail the same test twice in a row. Well, that's it for them. No more bonus. No more MOS they wanted.

As far as I know, they were both reclassed as cooks per "the needs of the Army." Fail a couple PT tests or otherwise get flagged? You broke the contract, no more bonus payout. I've only heard of that happening anecdotally, never seen that one. Still good to keep in mind.

There's good and bad with everything of course. Don't let people talk s*** and convince you to sign up for an MOS or something else you don't want to. Infantry guys will tell you, "There's 11B, and 11-wanna-B." I'm a POG and I'm happy as a pig in s***. Do what's best for you.

alowlybartender

Well...

This is about as real as it gets.

"I would be willing to bet..."

PTSD, depression, alcoholism, sexual assault... they are all very real. I would be willing to bet you won't leave your first unit without first or second hand experiencing all of the above. Before you join, try to get your head on straight. You will probably need some support throughout your time in the service, don't be afraid to call friends or mom (after basic training).

JTitleist

Sadly, this is true.

Sexual assaults, in particular, are quite common in the military.

"When you join..."

Physical fitness: it really is important and there are tons of physical, physiological, and psychological benefits to it. When you join, you need to be at or near your peak physical fitness level. I hated to kick out good kids (and even a Major) for being overweight/weak/slow.

JTitleist

True!

Boot camp really has a way of weeding out those who can't handle the pressure.

"Make sure you are cool..."

You are almost surrendering your freedom. They will tell you what to wear, where to go, what to do, and when to do it (they sometimes might tell you why). Make sure you are cool with someone having that much control over your life.

JTitleist

"That your recruiter..."

That your recruiter will outright lie to you about what will happen and what to expect, and what benefits you will get out of it. As fun as heavy demolitions and land mine warfare are, unless you get a job in big construction, you will never do it again.

Steiver_Davian1805

People really misunderstand a recruiter's job.

A recruiter's job is to just get you in the army. No more, no less. Some are more ethical about the process than others. Some are far less so.

Things rarely live up to the hype.

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