Forward: This post was inspired by both a conversation turned argument and listening to the Jocko Podcast Episode 123. Though it is a long listen It is a good listen. For some, it may be an emotional listen and that’s just fine in my books. Part of understanding this post, however, is to listen to it.
Every once in a while I have a conversation with individuals who tell me you know I really want to join the military. There are two types of people who tell me this.
- A person who has nothing and is struggling and sees it as a means to support themselves by sacrificing for a stable future
- A person who likes the idea of being a soldier and sees it as something fun, cool or entertaining to do.
Obviously, the later of the two really pisses me off.
First, let’s establish that the military culture and structure in every country are different and they cannot be confused. Some countries have conscription, some do not, and this difference is a big factory in a countries military culture. Some places like the U.S.A. have a volunteer army but depending on which state you are in will have more or less Military culture.
In Canada, we have a very strange Military Culture. Though Historically the Canadian Forces have been one of the top fighting forces in the world, albeit a very small one that has been involved many of the big conflicts over the years the average Canadian in many of the big cities doesn’t think much of the military or just doesn’t think about it at all.
Another thing about the Canadian Forces that may be different is the fact we have the regular forces which are all the full-time soldiers that have made a career of it and the reserve forces which is a part-time soldier.
Personally, I have an issue with the way the reserves in Canada is structure considering you can do it part-time in training on weekends until you have completed your minimum training standards. (There is far more to it than that as to why I have an issue but I will not get into it here)
To me, this just opens up the weekend Soldier, the person who wants to just play soldier without sacrificing their entire lives for something more. (Feel free to disagree) but to me, if you want to be a soldier go be a soldier. Make it your life, your career, and chosen choice in life at least for a few years.
Personally, I blame Hollywood and its complete misrepresentation of what it means to be a soldier. They idolize war and make it seem like that your entire time as a soldier will be in glorious battle. This is simply false.
First of all, in MOST armies the percentage of people in combat is usually somewhere less than 15% of the entire army. The rest is support from office work to supply techs to instructors and trainers. The military is so much more than just shooting at the bad guy. Not only that, PTSD and other issues are not specific to those who have seen combat, in fact, some of the people I know who got it literally did nothing, it was the waiting for something that drove them to it.
I remember I was guilty of this mentality too. Though I never saw combat in the traditional sense I can definitely say I had my challenges mentally in the military. Add to the fact I already had depression and didn’t know it didn’t help.
One thing I did learn is appreciating freedom. This is an ideology often pushed by the USA and its military apparatus but the appreciation for the freedom I think doesn’t come from “liberating” people. It comes from the fact that in the Military your time is not your own. Then when you are released it is again. That’s why soldiers appreciate freedom in my opinion.
Anyways. Recently I was listening to the Jocko Willinks Podcast Episode:
Listening to this podcast reminded me the kind of sacrifices and an individual soldier can make and the challenges that they can face. If you want to be a soldier, especially a combat soldier I suggest you listen. I think if you don’t consider this result with the reality of your choice to be a soldier, and if you are willing to risk similar sacrifices then perhaps being a soldier just isn’t for you.
It is not a joke to be a soldier, it is not a game to be a soldier and it is not your weekend fun time.
The gladiators of old knew the reality of what they did with the saying
Ave, Imperator, morituri te salutant
Or as many of you might know it as. For those about to die, we salute you.
This basically means, they fought knowing death it a possibility. The truth is after listening to that podcast I could say that perhaps death would have been easier. I am happy that Mr.Schick survived his ordeals and is doing what he is doing but what he went through must have been excruciating.
My point is if you want to be a soldier be a soldier, do it for real do it as a career. And if you want to be a career combat soldier you must accept that death is a real possibility, just like a severe life-altering injury is a possibility.
To me, if you want to play soldier, go play airsoft. But if you are ready and willing to make the sacrifice of time and energy and mental sanity then perhaps being a soldier is for you.
But please, don’t be disrespectful and pretend. if you want to do it, do it. To me, there is no in-between no matter how a military is structured.