I found this article amusing and at the same time right on the money…If you have ever served I think you will too. -SF
While there are a number of military stereotypes that are true, most of them are completely false.
The military is full of stereotypes. Contemporary perceptions of the average soldier or veteran often focus too much on one characteristic or miss the mark entirely. Whether it’s interbranch conflict, marriage woes, or political viewpoints, there are very few all-encompassing tropes that fit all members of the military.
Here are six military stereotypes debunked.
They love war.
World War II veteran-turned-President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” The stereotype of the hyper-masculine soldier is not an accurate depiction of most service members. In fact, because they’ve seen combat firsthand, they are much less likely to suggest warfare as a primary means of resolving conflict. According to a report from the Daily Beast, “Civilian elites were more supportive of using military force, and for a wider range of scenarios, than were military elites.”
They joined the military as a last resort.
There are any number of reasons why a person joins the military. People often believe that someone joins only because her or she flunked out of high school. However, reasons can be as far reaching as love of country, to familial history, to educational incentives. According to Blue Star Families 2014 survey, however, “The reason for joining the military reported by the highest percentage of respondents (96%) was to serve their country. Additionally, 74% of respondents said they joined to ‘improve their life circumstances.’” Regardless of why people choose to join, they put themselves in harm’s way to protect American interests.
They can’t think for themselves.
It’s a common misconception that service members only know how to give and take orders — nothing else. Many people perceive veterans as drones with rigid, set functions. However, they are often put into situations where they must think and respond quickly to unpredictable situations. The Business Journals, among various employment sites, cite the ability to think on their feet as major advantage when hiring veterans.
They all marry dependapotamuses.
It is a widely circulated rumor that service members marry and have kids to take advantage of military benefits — like more basic allowance for housing. An even worse stereotype: Spouses marry service members to steal their benefits. The few that do this sadly give the rest a bad name among both service members and civilians. The assumption that military marriages are a sham for benefits is starkly contrasted by the overall low divorce rates among military members. In 2015, the Pentagon stated divorce rates in 2015 were the lowest in a decade. Military.com also reported divorce rates among both officer and enlisted men and women across 2014 was only 3.1 percent.
The services don’t work together.
Though the rivalries are alive and well, they don’t detract from mission success. Even though there is branch competition, in the form of Army-Navy football and an endless slew of jokes about opposing services, at the end of the day, they know operational success always comes first. The Department of Defense says in its doctrine that joint or “team” operations are to serve as the overriding action across the services. This means that any mission that requires joint action comes first.
Service members are all extremely organized.
This one swings to both extremes. While some service members and veterans are organized down to the way they roll their socks, others are messy as can be. In response to a previous Task & Purpose article, a majority of our readers suggested that messiness was a popular form of rebellion against the rigidity within the military.
Read the Original Article at Task and Purpose
4 Military Stereotypes That Hollywood Got Right
There are some military characters that Hollywood seems to be getting right.
Capt. Miller, Hoot, Lt. Col. Moore, Gunny Highway.
Most of these names ring a bell, right? For the uninitiated, they represent the main characters of Saving Private Ryan, We Were Soldiers, and Heartbreak Ridge — all films that many troops and veterans can quote verbatim when watching. It’s hard to forget Miller’s sense of perspective with regards to his mission, or Moore’s declaration that he’ll be the first on and last off the battlefield — a sentiment that is less hero speak and more personal conviction, and one that he follows through with.
These guys all share similar traits that Hollywood loves to focus in on. Calm under fire? Check. Grizzled veteran? Check. Look out for their men even at great personal risk? Check. Stoic speech or personal reflection on war at some point during the movie? That is damn near a necessity.
While we can laugh about the Hollywood blueprint for a war hero, or get annoyed when we see military portrayals go very wrong, the more I watch, the more that I have found there are some leadership roles that these movies actually get right. In these characters, I saw examples of the leadership principles I respected in many of the NCOs and officers I served with.
In the veteran and military community, we talk a lot about the divide that exists with the civilian populace and their understanding of our beliefs and attitudes. One of the biggest misconceptions is that all our leaders are like R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket. Now, we may have had a few drill sergeants who liked to emulate his character, but as a whole, our leaders were much different. I’ve identified some of the typical military stereotypes that I’ve used to help my family and friends understand what military life was really like.
- The strong, humble leader.
It took another watching of Glory for me to appreciate just how good Morgan Freeman’s Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins fits this description. Initially just another regular recruit, Rawlins’ age and insight allow him to gain the trust of his command, eventually earning a promotion to the highest enlisted position in his regiment. Even as he is given his stripes, he confides in his commander that he isn’t sure he is ready for such a responsibility. Despite his initial reluctance, Rawlins takes to his billet perfectly, serving as the key link between his fellow black soldiers and their white commanders.
- The superman.
A lot of people view a military “badass” as a Ramboesque character. You know the type. Bodybuilder, camouflage paint, machine gun in hand. Unfortunately, all I see with characters like that are poor trigger discipline and a likelihood to be killed rather quickly. Supermen in the real world are the guys you speak about in hallowed terms; yet, have the utmost respect for due to their tactical proficiency and ability to inspire others to follow them to hell and back.
Although it’s hard to draw a tactical comparison to the current era of the military, Russell Crowe’s Maximus in Gladiator possesses that superman quality; so much so, that his army remains loyal to him while he was branded a traitor. The care for his men comes first and his battlefield prowess and experience earns him a massive following among the patrons of the Coliseum. Taking charge of his fellow gladiators, he possesses the timeless yet rare ability to raise the confidence and competency of those around him with just his presence.
- The lifer
In Heartbreak Ridge, Clint Eastwood’s GySgt. Tom Highway is a Marine through and through. There is no questioning his priorities in life: It is the Marine Corps and everything else comes second, save for a hard drink. His entire identity is wrapped up in being a Marine, which is not to say that that it is a bad thing. There is something uniquely admirable about someone who has found his true calling in life. The man has done it all, seen it all, and heard it all and has no issue with using old world techniques to teach a new generation of Marines. He’s the hardened war horse and figurehead that every successful combat unit needs.
While respected for his experience, Highway, like many lifers, begins to realize that he is being pushed aside for a new generation of leaders. Despite vast years of expertise, Highway struggles to accept that his beloved Marine Corps is finding little use for him in the twilight of his career. Fighting and drinking his way through demotions and charges of insubordination, these actions serve as a metaphor that he is pushing back against the reality that while he is not nearly done with the Marines, the Marines is finished with him.
- The mentor
F-14s, Kenny Loggins, volleyball sequences, and an unnamed hostile country (we all know it was Russia) and you have the gloriousness that is Top Gun. I can’t watch this movie without reciting a large majority of the lines, much to the annoyance of the people watching with me. This is one of the first movies I remember watching over and over again on VHS and it taught me the importance of Ray-Bans, coordinated high fives, and “adult situations.” It didn’t sink in until years later that the relationship between Maverick and Viper is a good study on the importance of recognizing talent, honing it, and pushing it further.
Viper is the classic “been there, done that, can still kick your ass” officer. While his combat days are done, he has no issue with getting down in the weeds and passing on his expertise to the next generation of pilots. In working with Maverick, Viper sees a little bit of his younger self and works to sort out the rough edges without coddling him. Like any good mentor, he doesn’t pull any punches, he’s direct, and he’ll build you back up when you need it. It’s hard not to respect a superior like that.
Trying to explain to a civilian about the culture of the military can be hard enough. Hell, explaining the language alone can leave people more confused than when you started. However, what people do understand is that there are certain archetypes and leadership roles that mirror the civilian world. Using specific military movies and some of their characters as a template, we can start to bridge the gap of understanding that exists today so that the next time you are talking about a “Maximus-type leader” to a civilian friend, they won’t look at you like you are crazy.
Read the Original Article at Task and Purpose