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Six Veteran Life Truths No One Has The Guts to Tell You

Posted on 05 October 2016

When you get out of the military, you're told lies. Let's fix this. 

1. Nearly everyone you meet will assume you have PTSD. 

Lance Corporal (then) PernDog in the Korengal Valley of DeathYeah, we all understand that Combat Admin isn't as cool as it sounds, and that you typed data into a spreadsheet all deployment—but civilians don't. Mention the word veteran and you'll be swamped with pity. Especially when you're returning to school. We aren't sure exactly what causes this phenomenon, but it is especially pronounced in college, yoga studios, and coffee shops where hipsters hang out...ok it's pretty much everywhere. 

Our best advice? Understand that when you're bringing up your veteran status, that you're asking for something from the other person. They may not respect/value military service, so they think you've somehow been duped into it. You poor thing. And they have plenty of pity for ya. "It seems cooler when you don't talk about it, anyway." A lot of guys will tell you that, when you're talking about your own combat experience. "I know that guys who were really in the shit never talk about it." Please, tell me more about what you learned from your own lack of experience.

An expert is born every minute. 

2. The Veterans Administration is not in charge of your health—or your recovery. 

This is something a lot of vets fail to understand—especially those that fall off. I don't know what makes a man lose his zest for life, but I've seen it happen to some solid warriors. And the truth is, not everyone can handle the war. Not everyone can handle the death, destruction, the blood. The scent. 

When you get out, you're in charge of your own health. Sure, the VA has a health program for you for five years, but it's trash. If you need regular physical therapy, your initial appointment will be 60 days out or more—and you'll be suffering the whole time. What's worse is you'll only see the PT once a month, when you should probably be seeing them once a week. 

Our advice: get your ass to work and provide your own health care. Or, register for VA disability and use your disability to cover the healthcare, PT, and dental costs. The VA is not responsible for your healing, and if you become addicted to pills, alcohol, whatever—they're also not responsible for that. It's all on you. 

You're gonna be treated like a victim. Trust in that. But don't believe in it. We live in a culture where people who haven't achieved what they want place the blame elsewhere—the next presidential choice, or the market wasn't right, or whatever. And you'll probably see a lot of old Vietnam Vets clogging up the system not taking personal responsibility for their health. 

Don't be one of those guys. Take responsibility if you think the VA is there for you. Use them, get on their ass about labs and appointments. They're there to work for you, but you got to put them to work. Don't expect the VA to self-motivate on your health.


3. Education isn't always the answer.

College is torture for kinesthetic learners, and liberal arts degrees are for baristas. This is something that a lot of people don't get. Unless you're getting a degree that has a training pipeline—i.e. physics, engineering, etc—college can be a complete waste of time. 

Ever notice how the professors telling you how to succeed in their field are a) not successful in their field, they're teaching it; and b) always jaded and unhappy with the world at large? Pay attention to action. 

Oh, you're getting an entrepreneurship degree? That's nice, but it didn't include starting a you're not really an entrepreneur. 

Oh, you're getting a health degree, did you spend any time in class actually getting healthy—working out and eating right? Well you studied health stuff and took tests, but you didn't actually achieve peak health.

Also understand that the school will accept your GI Bill money no questions asked. It's not their responsibility to decide whether or not your education is worth it to you, because they're getting paid. Got it? I'm not saying be selfish, but you gotta be all about you. No one else will.

4. Your family doesn't matter. 

Many of our family members are complete and utter losers. Why should you be forced to spend time with someone who is a complete drain on your life? A mentor of mine calls people like this "energy vampires." Like they suck the energy right out of you. 

If your family is bringing you up and giving you value, hold on tight. For most people, family is a time suck—always giving negative advice on new ventures, telling you how your business can peak when they don't know what it took to launch, giving you relationship advice like 'we knew she was a ho' only after the fact. My favorite is when people say 'that's gonna be tough.' 

You think I joined the Marine Corps because I thought it would be easy?

You don't need to completely axe people—I mean they raised you—but if they're dragging you down, cut the cord. Toxic people are toxic people, no matter the relation. Family only matters if they are lifting you up, not wasting your time with crazy requests and phone calls and criticisms of things they know nothing about or have no control over.  

5. Most men are shit. 

There is this idea of 'the patriarchy' a system in which men control the systems of power—it's bullshit. Average men, especially white men, don't give a fuck about the guy to their left and right. 

Average guys get jealous extremely easily and are super competitive with nothing to show for it. They always compare themselves to others and believe they are better than you, with zero success or experience to back it up. The worst part is these guys LOVE to give life advice when they haven't been able to apply it in their own. 

When you find people like this in your life: time for immediate action drills to clear the obstruction, you got me? Tap, rack, bang. 

6. You will waste a lot of time trying to reintegrate. 

You get out after spending a couple seasons downrange, and you're different. Trust me, you are going to spend a lot of time doing the wrong things, like: getting too drunk, wasting time on Reddit or message boards, sleeping in, dating toxic girls, networking with the wrong people...

You're gonna waste a thousand hours, and when you realize it, it's gonna hurt. Embrace the suck. It will make you stronger. 

You've been conned, but lucky for you, you have all of the skills and discipline from your military service to help you through. General Mattis calls this post-traumatic growth. When you utilize the skill set from your time in the military to become a greater person.

Don't fall into these traps. You're free to design a life that suits you, so get out there and do it. 

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1 comment

  • Robert R Scott: October 05, 2016

    All hard learned lessons that apply whether you did one hitch or retired. Accountability to self, owning your path, and a bias for action are the keys that underpin your truths. S/f.

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