You may have noticed that we're surrounded by 37 military bases, 18 academies, nine tank factories, seven retired stealth bombers, four real stealth bombers — two of which are bombing you RIGHT NOW — and monthly appearances from every politician and decorated military official that ever gave one award to another.
All that said, and despite the fact I've lived in Colorado Springs my whole life, I have no idea what it's like in the military. So, the wisdom of the reddit hive mind — who asked the question, "Soldiers of Reddit, what do you wish someone told you before you enlisted?" — is interesting, if almost completely depressing.
Here's their answers. (But, because I'm sure this is not the whole experience, feel free to chime in with how the armed forces have treated you.)
• "A lot of people won't care about the fact that you are / were in the military. Don't expect people to automatically respect you for it. Not everyone thinks it's respectable. Don't just assume it will allow you to more easily get a completely unrelated job once you get out."
• "Get in good shape and stay in good shape. This will prevent injury during basic training. An out of shape and weak person is much more likely to get injured than someone who starts off in good shape."
• "Don't trust the army when they say something is perfectly safe."
• "It's possible for you to be happy despite the military, but it's unlikely you will be happy because of the military."
• "Never miss a chance to eat, sleep, or use the restroom."
• "If it is at all possible, get your ass to Special Operations Command. There is more training involved, and it may suck more from time to time, but hands down, the people are more intelligent, and you will be less likely of being killed if you work with smart people."
• "You cannot 'call in sick'. Ever. EVER."
• "I've learned useful skills, have guaranteed employment with benefits, get to see the world, have quite a few employment opportunities waiting for me at State, the NSA, or other contractors, and achieved a level of financial well-being."
• "The statistics on military families staying together are terrible. The divorce rate is terrible. You are choosing a profession that will make it harder on your wife and children and increasing the probability of your family failing altogether."
• "Don't volunteer for anything."
• "Currently enlisted Air Force, Keep copies of everything I have double sets of all important papers, In separate folders."
• "Just remember, there's only one thief in the Marine Corps, everyone else is just trying the get their shit back."
• "YOU WILL wake up every morning before 6am for PT. Five days a week. Every week. Every morning. Every single morning. Every. Single. Morning. Let that sink in a little."
• "The first girl who looks your way out of basic training IS NOT YOUR WIFE."
• "Don't trust Personnel Specialists or Finance. They will make up regulations to screw you out of your money or career options. Always ask them to cite their references."
• "Wear earplugs, get used to the way the world sounds when they are in. Do not assume headphones are a substitute. They're not."
• "Competence is rewarded with more work."
• "Since you are going to see combat, look up 'Post-traumatic stress disorder'. Maybe you think you're strong and won't get it, but your friends might not be that strong. They'll change. PTSD does not change people for the better."
• "Running in the army is NOT the same as going for a peacful jog on your own."