19 Unmistakable Habits of Someone Who’ve Served in the Military

Whether they wear cargo shorts all the time or always arrive early, there are telltale signs that someone has served in the armed forces. An online forum recently asked, “What screams ‘I’m an ex-military’?” Here are the most popular answers. 

Being able to sleep through anything

Sleeping Through Anything
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I’ve noticed myself and a lot of my friends can simultaneously sleep through anything while also being able to wake up instantly if we hear a sound we don’t like, no matter how faint.”

“I slept through an electric transformer exploding in my yard once. What did wake me up? I heard a male voice I didn’t recognize outside in the same yard.”

Not being able to sleep at all

Getting No Sleep
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I had a friend who was in the military. They told me when they were on tour, they could sleep anywhere. When they got home, they could fall asleep but would have nightmares and then wake up, over and over, repeat. I felt so bad for them.”

“My former marine friend can’t sleep at all.”

Not getting embarrassed easily

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“When you don’t have clothes on that often in front of that many dudes? Someone walking in on you sitting on the toilet doesn’t even register. ‘While you’re in here, hand me some toilet paper?’”

“No doors on the stalls. Here I am, a 15-year-old guy, trying to go to the toilet. These two Navy recruits decided to have a conversation with me about what we’re doing there.”

Having a USAA membership

USAA
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The membership extends to grandchildren of servicemembers and veterans, so not really accurate, but that card does get me asked a lot if I’m a veteran.”

“USAA is one. NFCU debit card is a more subtle giveaway because they don’t suck at their job and are generally well regarded by veterans.”

A deep love of cargo shorts

Cargo Shorts
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More pockets = better shorts. It’s science.”

“ I did 23 years. The only thing that gives me away is my affinity for cargo shorts.”

A hatred for seafoam green

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I hate the color seafoam green. To the core of my being, I hate that color.”

“My electrical testers are all painted that color. Never in my life did I think I could hate a color as much as seafoam green.”

Being divorced before 25

Divorced Before 25
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The first time I legitimately heard someone trail off in a conversation was when I asked a friend who just got out about getting married. I said, “Hey! I heard you married a German girl when you were overseas!” he said “Yeah… that didn’t really…” then he changed the subject.”

“I’ve known several guys who married at 18 to 20 so their girlfriend could live with them at the base. They were all divorced by 23.”

Thinking everyone is late

Lateness
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Telling someone at 8:57 am, “You’re late” for a 9 am meeting.”

“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

Never talking about it

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Dad was in the Navy during World War Two and never talked about it.”

“My gunner ‘Nam vet neighbor has never EVER said a word about Vietnam, except for one day when it was absolutely pouring outside. I mean, like, torrential downpours. From his front porch, he looks across the driveway to me and says, barely loud enough to hear, “Just like the monsoons.”

Eating their food very quickly

Eating Out Alone
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Heard. I make beautiful meals with restaurant quality ambiance, and my ex-Marine inhales each individual item, rotating clockwise, finishing in the time it takes me to get my bread properly buttered.”

“10 years later, I am still stuck on this. I’m always the first one done by a wide margin at outings and it’s just an involuntary habit. Everyone thinks I’m weird for it.”

Buying a Mustang with a huge interest rate

V6 Mustang With a 30_ APR Interest Rate
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“This isn’t even an exaggeration. My squadron had a wave of brand-new guys that all bought Mustangs at a staggering interest rate. More than half of them wrecked their shiny new cars. The trend got so bad we basically had to corral them all in a room and give an impromptu lesson on financial decision-making. The First Shirt got involved. It was ugly.”

“The sign of ex-military is getting a V6 Mustang repossessed.”

Using a veteran discount 

Asking for a Veteran Discount
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I have my account at Lowe’s set to automatically use my discount. Same with Home Depot (have to use the app).”

“Every time my wife wants something at the local Hallmark store, she drags me along to buy it for her because they give a 20% veteran discount. That’s nothing to sneeze at, actually.”

Using acronyms that literally nobody else understands

Using Acronyms That Literally Nobody Else Understands
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We hired a new supervisor at my job who had just gotten out of the Air Force. The first email he sent out en masse started with a BLUF longer than the email itself. Also, nobody knew what BLUF was, which just added to the confusion. He also signs all his emails V/r, which isn’t as bad but still adds to it.”

“This is my pet peeve, especially when you get two or more vets in a group. Suddenly everyone is sharing their MOS, and that time it was FUBAR when they were doing TDY at the FOB during ODS, and the XO had to get them CAS PDQ.”

Being incredibly sensible

Incredibly Sensible
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All of the ex-military I worked with are incredibly sensible. They want to get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible. I really like having ex-military on my work teams. They also tend not to mince words, so there is no room for misinterpretation when communicating, which I find refreshing.”

“BLUF (bottom line up front) is what I miss most about the army. Get to the point quickly, then go into details if needed.”

Carrying everything in your left hand

Everything Is Carried in Their Left Hand
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Saluting is done with the right hand, and saluting with something in your right hand is a huge no-no unless whatever you’re carrying requires two hands.”

“It feels wrong to be outside with something in the hand you salute with. Even when off base, out of uniform, retired, or on leave. Step inside, and it no longer feels wrong.”

Problems with your knees and back

Knees and Back Are Ruined
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Every morning when we wake up, I ask my boyfriend, ‘What hurts today?’. One day he said ‘nothing,’ and I arched an eyebrow, so he corrected himself ‘nothing out of the ordinary.’”

“Currently at 15 years of service. Two bad shoulders at 25 and my first knee surgery at 27.”

Hearing issues

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I used to ask my wife all the time if she could hear that light “eeeeee” sound. I’ve stopped now because I realize no one else hears it – just me.”

“‘Anyone else hear a ringing sound?’”

Struggles with alcoholism 

Alcoholism
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“I second this…I thought the “one day at a time” mantra was nonsense but now that I have a handle (no pun intended) on it, I understand. I haven’t drunk for three months, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to every other hour of the day. Just choose not to for once, and build upon that.”

“Drank for 15 years hardcore. Air Force here. I am a functioning alcoholic. Beer was my choice. On day 16 of being sober now. Once you get your mind right, you can accomplish anything. I never really wanted to quit. I would just quit in periods to show myself I could. I would count the days till I could drink again. Now I’m counting the days that I haven’t drunk. I feel so much better. Physically and mentally. Been going back to the gym every evening.”

Not calling yourself ‘ex-military’

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“That was my first thought “Former military, not ex-military.”

“Only ex-military if you got kicked out. Former military, veteran, etc., are preferred.”

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