Service Members Share What They Learned About Society After Their Tour Of Duty

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It takes a peculiar kind of person to be a service member, either enlisting in the military or choosing to serve as a member of the police force. You lay your life down on the line to make sure others get the chance to live theirs. Sometimes, seeing that side of society can change you.

Reddit user, u/sleafordbods, wanted to know:

Police and military members of Reddit, what is something you realized about society as a result of your service that you didn't notice before?

Just A Couple Of Quickies

Most people are not suited to authority. The more they have, the more they abuse it. Both genders.

Most people aren't that smart, and the dumber they are, the dumber they think smart people are.

Men are cruel. Women are wicked.

Groupthink is real, is everywhere, and is dangerous.


What? The Government's Wasteful?


The government truly is staggeringly wasteful. I mean just truly wasteful on a scale that boggles the mind.

I'm certain we could field a more capable military with half the annual money ($350B instead of $700B) if we didn't just thrown the money away on redundant hardware that is manufactured and exists solely to provide jobs in specific congressional districts, inefficient logistics, gas and oil, etc.


You Say Only What You Have To Say

"Thank you for your service" and my response "Thank you for your support" is really just an obligated, scripted back and forth that usually means nothing to either party.

I know there's no ill intent meant by it, but I feel like 90% of the time, people say it when they feel like they have to, not because they feel genuine gratitude.

I hope that doesn't make it sound like I think I deserve gratitude just on account of being a glorified government employee, but I can definitely tell the difference between someone who genuinely believes I somehow keep them safe, and someone who is saying because they think they have to, and I wish those people felt comfortable not saying anything at all


Things Are More Complicated Than They Appear

That everyone has preconceived notions about the military, good or bad, and any information given to the contrary goes in one ear and out the other.

Also applies to just about everything else. People don't like to give any additional thought to an idea once they have settled on it as their personal belief. TBH thinking about it bums me out a lot.

"The Military" is a huge organization and a supreme example of the American melting-pot, with people from literally all walks of life and all ideologies, and making any generalizations about service members beyond "they are all human" is pointless.


Kind Of A Tactless Way To Say It, But, Okay

If you're good at your job, great! You'll get to do someone else's job too. When things need to get done, regardless of who's responsibility something is, the tasks will fall to the people who can do them- the high performers. So you end up with all of these high performers who get burnt out because they're doing their job and picking up all of the slack that falls on their shoulders.

In the military especially, it's frustrating when these high performers who carry most of the load are compensated and treated the same as their peers who don't add as much value- the military is many things, but a meritocracy it is not.

Many from this top group leave the military to pursue something where their disproportionate contribution is rewarded. You then end up with the leftover group of people from the middle of the pack, who were never really high performers, finding themselves in leadership positions. Through attrition of the actual best, the middle rises, simply because they end up being the best of who's left after the high performers leave.


Just Asking Questions Can Get You In Trouble

There's a lot of grey between the black and white of following orders.


Don't Know What You Need


Being on deployment overseas made me appreciate signs and announcements in English. Being in Dubai or India and not getting lost because of the English signage is something one wouldn't think important until they're lost and need to make it back to ship on time.

So now when someone complains about seeing signs in Spanish or French in America I'm more prone to calling them out on their bullsh-t.


Everyone Has The Same Potential

The only sign of being a good person is being a good person.

People like to say "oh, that person has x trait, he's a good person". None of those traits pan out.

Religion, education, money, status, race, politics, electability, sexuality....I met plenty of straight-up aholes in every iteration of every category there is. Nearly every iteration of every category also had strongly good people in it. There was virtually no correlation.


Not Everyone Is A Saint

Before Army: "Everyone in military service is a hero. F-cking extinguish anyone who thinks otherwise."

After Army: "I've been wrong... for a very long time."


Those of us who live in New York live this truth on a daily basis.

Sometimes, you just meet a person who isn't quite all there. It's hard to tell at first, but then you talk with them for a little while and it just becomes abundantly clear if they're two eggs short of an omelette.

The stories of how you find out are so interesting. But yet, they teach us to look for clues when we interact with others.

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