10 Things Only Veterans Understand


10 Things Only Veterans Understand

I have seen dozens of lists about things that only a veteran understands. Here is my take on some of those lists.

1. Bad knees – This is very much directly related to the boots we wear/wore and the amount of weight we are made to carry. I have more than once gotten off a plane, carrying a 75-80 pound or more pack on my back and an 80-pound or so seabag on the front. And sometimes, it is two seabags one in each hand with a pack on your back. I myself have two bad knees and I have had surgery on my right one in 2021.

2. Our hatred for ibuprofen and fresh socks – For some reason, the military medical system seems to think that you can take ibuprofen for anything. I have been prescribed so much of that junk while I was on active duty that I think I still have a bottle or two of that junk still hanging around. The fresh socks come from being on a forced march and getting blisters. Blisters of course are directly related to the footwear and the wool socks we had to wear.

3. Our ability to sleep anywhere – Of course, this may depend on what branch you were serving in, and it will change with your experiences. I have slept on the ground, in a hole, on the floor, and at least once in a tree. In a plane, more than one (both commercial and in the back of a C-130, back of a C-141 while escorting the classified cargo), in a hummer (HMMWV) and I’m sure that are other places that I have forgotten.

4. Sleep – Of course, #3 goes directly hand in hand with #4 of not being able to sleep at all. Yeah, yeah, I know, how can you sleep anywhere and not sleep at all? When I mean, sleep anywhere, sleep is not long, not eight hours, more like 30-60 minutes and it isn’t good solid sleep either.

5. Back pain – This one goes hand in hand with #1 and #2 and probably some of #3. We have been taught to lift with our legs, but we also know that it is your weight for you to carry, so you suck it up and get it done, and that usually involves lifting with your back which causes #5.

6. You have a major cursing problem – I know that this is something that the Marines are famous for. In fact, Marines can use “Fuck” in just about any connotation you can think of. You can be fucking, and this is fucked, and you can fuck that, but do you give a fuck? And if you give a fuck, what the fuck? Who the fuck and why the fuck? You can fuck it all, fuck off, fuck it and it could just be fucked. You can be a fuck up, and if you are you are likely fucking up. Holy fuck what the Fuck! And fuck yeah and fuck no!

7. Woobie – You know what a “woobie” is and you likely have one that has seen better days. A woobie is a poncho liner, which was first used by the U.S. military in the Vietnam War. They gained the nickname “woobie” later; that term is conjectured to have derived from the name for a child’s security blanket in the 1983 movie Mr. Mom. For many veterans, their favorite blanket is there, now “woobie”.

8. Hearing issues – Many of us have tinnitus or other hearing issues. And the sad part is that is a tough one to get the Veterans Administration to buy into. I worked on a flight line for three years and I was first issued foamy earplugs until I could get fitted for my custom earplugs. This was all before the big 3M lawsuits, and I couldn’t even begin to tell you who made the custom pair that I had. I can also tell you that my hearing is much less now than it was when I was a teenager.

9. A pair of old combat boots – for some reason that is one thing that most service members hold onto when they get out. I have a black leather pair (circa early ’90s) and a green pair of jungle boots (circa 80’s). I used to use them around the yard and when I was out working on a job site-type situation. I still have them, holding them for no reason, they don’t fit me anymore as I was a 10.5 while in the Corps and I’m a 12.5 now.

10. An ugly divorce or two – I have been fortunate in this department that I have been married to my high-school sweetheart for the past 33 years. But that is certainly the exception to this rule. I know so many Marines who are married #2, 3, or 4. Being in the military is hard for both people in a marriage, but we often hear the stories of the non-military spouse leaving them while they were deployed. It is sad the number of spouses that pulled that stunt.

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