Serving in the military is one of the most intense jobs on the market.
Being a soldier demands so much of you — loyalty, respect, and accountability to succeed.
In my four years of serving in the United States Army and doing one tour in the middle east, I’ve learned the do and don'ts of being a soldier in the U.S. Army.
I’ve seen a lot of great habits and behaviors, as well as a lot of things I don’t ever plan on replicating.
If you’ve wanted to know what it’s like and what it takes to be a good soldier, this article is perfect for you.
1. Be On Time
Being a soldier requires timeliness and being punctual.
If you’re in a time of war, then hit times and accountability times are critical.
I can account for all of the times that I’ve been late or cut it close. News flash, it’s not a good time. Sometimes, you’ll be forced to get “smoked” or disciplined through physical fitness or be forced to stay later than the group.
One thing my drill sergeant in boot camp said was, “If you’re five minutes early, then you’re ten minutes late.” He implied that you always need to be at least fifteen minutes early.
Being early gives you time to assess the situation, not rush into anything, and be accounted for.
The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.
— Leo Tolstoy
2. Maintain Fitness
The Army holds its soldiers accountable for passing their PT tests and passing height and weight checks.
Working out and eating right are important to every mission because the more capable you are, the more of an asset you are to your unit.
As a competitive individual, I always strive for the best PT score in my unit. I have achieved this goal every single time, and it feels amazing.
My cross country days really inspired me to maintain my quickness and endurance — two key factors in the PT test.
The PT Test
- Max amount of push-ups in 2 minutes
- Max amount of sit-ups in 2 minutes
- The fastest time for a 2 minute mile
There is a new PT test coming up, and it’ll be far more intense which I’ll cover in the future.
Train hard, train often, and always do your best!
“Create healthy habits, not restrictions.”
3. Open Communication
In any situation, the need to communicate is important.
Some issues come up, whether it’s life or about work, and it’s important to communicate with your leaders. Your leaders can’t help you if you don’t speak up about a situation — they don’t read minds.
Whenever I’ve had an issue such as pay, a certain shift, or that I needed a personal day, I communicated with those responsible for me.
I approach my leaders with ease because I make sure to build rapport, earn their trust, and be someone they can count on.
Make your life and your leaders’ lives easier by being a good communicator.
Everything will flow much smoother, and your army career will be filled with more good times than bad.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
George Bernard Shaw
4. Volunteer When No One Else Does
Volunteering for details or tasks is a touchy subject for many soldiers.
There is an abundant number of situations where a job calls for volunteers. It could be anything from helping load a bulldozer to taking out the trash.
No matter what is asked, I make sure to volunteer. After all, I’d rather keep myself occupied and learn new skills rather than sit back and spectate.
When your leaders counsel you and talk about how you’ve been doing as a soldier, they’ll have nothing but good things to say.
Your effort to volunteer to be in the military was already huge enough — and to volunteer within the realm earns you the respect of your leadership as well as your peers.
They know they can depend on you.
Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.
— Sherry Anderson
5. Stand Up For What You Believe In
If you want to be respected, then you need to stand up for yourself.
Don’t depend on someone to defend you when you’re in an iffy situation. If you disagree with how a mission is operated or think there’s a better way to do something, speak up.
Before joining, I was a shy individual who was a pushover. Ever since learning how to be assertive and confront problems head-on, my entire world has changed.
When you handle your problems by dealing with them, you make time for more important things.
Enjoy your military career in a way that you’ll want to remember. Don’t leave anything on the table by the time you move on.
Don’t be the person that wishes they spoke up in certain situations.
It’s not a good feeling.
Speak your mind. Speak your truth.
Just do it respectfully.
Strong people stand up for themselves, but stronger people stand up for others.
— Suzy Kassem
There are millions of people who have put on the military uniform and served. No two soldiers are the same in how they carry themselves and who they are without the uniform.
We have to recognize our differences and focus on the mission, always.
To be the most dynamic unit in the world, do the five things I mentioned in this article:
- Be on time, be ready, and be accountable.
- Maintain your fitness so that you’re mission capable.
- Open communication is important to resolve issues and have successful missions.
- Volunteer when no one else does because things need to get done, and you’ll learn something new every time.
- Stand up for what you believe in because your career goes by fast, and you don’t want to live with any regrets.
Do all of these things, and when you reflect on your military career, you’ll be glad you did.