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3 Things You Should Know About Military Culture

How to better understand the military personnel in your life.

3 things to know about military culture

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Laurel Shaler.

Years ago, early in my marriage, my Navy husband was stationed on a ship that required he stand watch pretty regularly. One day, I decided to visit him on the ship during his watch duty. After a brief visit, I made my way across the deck to leave. Having watched many sailors stop at the top of the ramp before exiting the ship in order to salute the watch guard, I decided to be silly and salute to my husband as I left. I made two major faux pas: I am not in the military and should not have been saluting; I saluted with my left hand.

You can imagine how appalled my husband was! The military has its own rules and regulations, but more than that, it has its own culture. I went against it all the day of the left-hand salute (as we now call it). Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot more about military culture since then, including:

1.  Honor
Those who are serving or who have served in the Armed Forces consider it a privilege. They do not ask for anything in return but do strive to honor one another for the sacrifice. Veterans don’t like being honored on Memorial Day as that day is reserved for those who died while serving our country or as a result of serving our country.

2.  Loyalty
Service members and veterans are loyal to one another. They find their military experience to be unifying and identify as brothers and sisters. They strive to help one another out and grieve when one dies even if they have never met him or her.

3.  Commitment
While military personnel are committed to one another, it might be said they are most committed to their sense of duty. Their service is a choice, and they are dedicated to the call to protect the United States of America.

While there are many facets to military culture–such as organization and norms–these three non-tangible attributes are ingrained in service members and play a major role in their service and life. Understanding these three can help you better connect with the military personnel in your life. But regardless of how close you are, don’t try a left-handed salute. That will not win you any military friends. Take it from me! 

Dr. Laurel Shaler is a certified counselor and licensed social worker. She is the author of Reclaiming Sanity: Hope and Healing for Trauma, Stress, and Overwhelming Life Events.

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