5 Myths About the Military You Believe (Thanks to Movies)
By Steven Hiller Feb 19, 2011
Hopefully, if you're reading this article, your upbringing was relatively free of war. If that's the case, you probably got all of your information about the military from movies. But even accounting for what you already assumed was Hollywood bullshit (obviously war is not a nonstop action explosion festival), if you're like most people, you still have a grossly skewed idea about what life in the military is like. For instance, many of you think ...
Boot Camp Is Like Full Metal Jacket
I'll be blunt: Everything about boot camp in movies is wrong. At least, it's wrong today. What you find out in boot camp is that the heart of military life isn't killing bad guys, fulfilling your potential or being all you can be. It's uniform inspections.
When it comes to this, it doesn't matter what service you join. For approximately the first two weeks of boot camp, you will do nothing but learn how to wear your uniform, iron your uniform, fold your uniform, stow your uniform and, if you're lucky, take out your uniform and iron it again.
How is it even possible to spend so much time on uniforms? Well, given that it's the heart of military life, letting your uniform deviate from the standard by a quantum measurement is basically like punching America in the face. When I was at boot camp, a drill sergeant there would use one of those laser pointers as a level to make sure that medals were mounted on our uniforms straight. It takes time and effort to learn to compete with lasers. We'd also learn stuff like how to repeatedly iron and starch between the buttonholes on our shirts. Apparently, some almost-noticeable lines tend to form there, and the rest of the world doesn't even know about it, but in the military, they could clearly cause a devastating loss of morale.
After those weeks, even when you think you're moving on to learning other things, you are still constantly preparing for the most important part: daily uniform inspections. But between those, you do get to learn other things. For example, how to stand at attention, which you wouldn't think would take that long. It's just standing, right? Well, I was failed once because one of my thumbs was resting slightly in front of the crease of my pants instead of behind it. Also rack inspections, where you learn how to make your bed again, and again, and again, and then one more time.
But what about the other shit, like the crazy drill sergeants who will drive you to suicide? Fortunately, these days at least, that position isn't staffed with people who have personality disorders. They're also much more limited in what they can do to correct recruits -- physical abuse, working people out too long, swearing and anything else you can imagine any self-respecting drill sergeant doing simply aren't allowed anymore. Of course, being drill sergeants, they find imaginative ways to correct you anyway, but it's going to be more along the lines of making you stand out in the middle of a field saluting squirrels.