You can imagine that I learned a lot during my 22-year military career.
Yes, I did. I learned how to plan, execute that plan, organize a team, and lead. Yes, I learned a lot – the military definitely taught me a lot over the course of those 22 years. But, it took for me to transition out to learn some of lifes toughest lessons. In the process of learning those lessons I had to be honest in my self-assessment and conclude that there were some things the military just did not teach me. Incredible, right? I mean they had me for 22 years and there are still some things the military just did not teach me. Here’s what I believe the military did not teach me:
1. Ask for help
– Say it aint so, YOU NEED HELP!! Whaaaat?!?! Yes, at some point we all need help with something
– be it a reference for a new job, a resource to grow our business, advice on parenting, relationship or finances. Yes, we all need help. Even during my 22 years of military service, I admittedly asked my team for help when needed. It just became apparent to me that when the military uniform comes off for the last time, it is unacceptable to ask for help. By God, you were a military officer
– surely YOU can figure it out! The lies we tell ourselves! The truth is we all need help and when we open our mouths to ask for help, HELP is readily available.
2. You will make mistakes and mess up sometimes.
Taboo! No, not the fun, silly card game but the unspoken truth that military members do make mistakes and we even mess things up sometimes. I remember being a young Soldier and not really knowing how to manage my money well, I fell into the trap of Pay Day loans. Holy smokes! Pay Day loans are the devil, straight from the pit of hell. I was praising the Lord when I finally ran across Dave Ramsey and learned some techniques to better manage my money. It
was truly a lifesaving moment! Maturity comes with learning, taking. Action to change, and sharing with others so they avoid similar mistakes.
3. Accept that you have flaws, contrary to popular belief the military is NOT PERFECT.
I know, we look perfect in our dress uniforms. Remember how handsome Tom Cruise was in his crisp white dress uniform in An Officer and A Gentleman
– every woman wanted a man in uniform. My goodness, he looked like a vision of handsome perfection! But remove the uniform and we are not perfect
– in fact, we are human just like YOU civilians (that’s the term of endearment military members use to refer to those who never served). When I finally explained this to my family and friends it was liberating
– the pressure to come off as this perfect being was lifted off my shoulders and the imperfect mess, which is me, arose.
4. Every human being has emotions.
They might as well had said check your emotions at the door when I arrived for Basic Training. When I think about it, they did! In Army language
Suck it up and drive on! There’s no crying in the military! And my favorite suck it up Buttercup! I mean really?!? How rude! But the language was clear and I figured it out early. I had my tear ducts at the halt position and my emotions stayed under my combat boots for 22 years. When I transitioned, I didn’t know what to do with all the emotions I was feeling from leaving the military life behind. I eventually figured it out and can report I am managing well thanks to the VA Mental Health department.
5. Love of running.
Even after 22 years of PT! Good for you! Good for me! Ha! ha, ha! I have not learned to LOVE running, but I have learned that it is important to keep moving my body to avoid the retirement bulge. Yes, the retirement bulge, its a real thing. At
least thats what my scale and my mirror tell me. I must admit that the daily practice of physical activity is needed and necessary for longevity. And physical activity is even more necessary as we grow older, especially if you want to avoid packing on the pounds
after transition from military service. Make physical activity a part of your life after military service. Even if you don’t love to run, find some sort of activity that you love or at least something that you are committed to doing regularly like walking. Yup, 22 years and so many lessons. And, you know what
I’d do it all over again! I had an amazing career, served with some amazing people and grew so much because of it.a