SAF BLOG POSTS
Month of the Military Child
What we do as parents has a serious impact on our children’s future. From the way we handle certain situations, occupation, habits, hobbies and even our general attitude towards everyday life. Many of our military service members had parents that served, some still do. The same can be said about our police officers, firefighters, farmers, chefs, and business owners of many sorts, they often have a child that follow in their footsteps ultimately turning their trade into a family tradition.
Unfortunately, on the other spectrum, individuals with drug, alcohol and/or abusive tendencies can also produce another generation that carries on the “tradition”. Our actions speak volumes to how our children turn out.
Prior to leaving for recruit training, I gave my son eleven general orders. They greatly differed from the ones that would soon be ingrained into his brain housing group while going through basic training. It is just as important that we talk to our children as much as it is for us to set the example. Below are the eleven I came up with and I would like to share them with you.
Put God first.
When making decisions, put God first and you can’t go wrong. When we make emotional based decisions, or those rooted in pride or ego or even ones based on our career, problems occur. People’s lives are affected to include your own. When we try to avoid God in our decision-making process, it’s because deep down we know it’s wrong.
Understand the Constitution of the United States and the UCMJ.
If you’re willing and ready to raise your right hand and swear before God to support and defend the constitution of the U.S. against all enemies, foreign and domestic and that you are willing to bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that you will obey the orders of our President and the officers appointed over you according to the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, then you better well know what they are. Plain and simple.
Ask questions/Take notes.
Notice that those two go together. If you’re ready to ask a question, you better be ready to right down the answer. Your first enlistment is nothing more than a learning phase, and if there is one thing I hate, it’s seeing the same mistakes made over and over. Don’t just learn from your mistakes, learn from others. Copious notes!
Be early to everything.
Always remember that 15 minutes prior is on time, so be early to everything. This one is a no brainer but there are grown adults roaming this world that can’t seem to grasp this simple concept, so make it a habit now.
Be a professional.
There are two types you will run into in the military as a young Marine, Soldier, Sailor or Airmen. The one’s that this is their first experience away from momma so they run around and act a fool treating every opportunity as a frat party, and the one’s that take their job serious as professional door kickers. Our military men and women are some of the greatest athletes this country has, not the kind that fall down grabbing their ankle when they’re bumped into, insert LaBron James picture here, but real professional athletes. They care about what goes in their body, they train hard, they become aware of their limitations and capabilities and they strive to constantly better themselves and those around them. This is the ultimate team sport.
Never quit anything.
The one thing I looked for in a good Marine was their ability to go all out, even when they knew they weren’t going to make it. They never quit. We often set up obstacles and time limits based on it not being met but seeing the reaction they give when they realize it. Do they quit because it’s impossible or do they keep trying until they’re told to stop? This is an invaluable lesson to be learned to construct a superior work ethic.
Every officer below the rank of 1st Lieutenant and above the rank of Captain is a politician.
A 2nd Lieutenant has the discipline of a 3rd phase recruit. They would march blindly into oncoming traffic down I-5 if told to do so. By the time they get to Captain, they are making decisions based on their career and not the men and women they are accountable for. Not all, so don’t every officer get your panties twisted, but you know the majority do. It’s a fact that politics have bled over to our higher leadership ranks.
Never make yourself look good by making someone else look bad.
This was a lesson I learned early on in my career because I had good leadership. Sgt Zach Teegarden shared this piece of advice with me, and it stuck. If you want to look better, be better. Do not concern yourself with the showboats, because when it comes to being cold, wet, tired, and just plain miserable out in the field, all that so called discipline disappears. The average person will choose comfort over discipline nine and a half times out of ten.
You’re not worth a mud hut in a third world country.
This one is going to ruffle some feathers… What I mean by this is on the overall grand scheme of things, you’re just a number. What matters in dire situations are the men and women to your left and right, not someone sitting back miles away in their cozy little conference room watching you conduct combat operations from a drone circling above. My last tour in Afghanistan was an eye opener to this. There are many of great men that are no longer with us because we were not allowed to drop mortars on bad guys ambushing us from mud huts. The agreement that our politicians and leaders made with the Afghan Govt was to not destroy the mud huts, and guess who figured that out pretty quickly…Yup. The only other thing I’ll say about that is, ghost grids…
Never complain. Just when you think it’s bad, it can always be worse.
Grumbling and complaining in a unit is cancerous, you must cut it out immediately. You might be tired and hungry and sick of doing the same drills over and over but trust me, it could always be worse. If I heard my guys complaining in the field the training never stopped. While the other platoons finally finished their objectives, we would go on a run. If we just finished a run and that was the complaint, we would do drills. It could always be worse. It’s a mindset.
You’re never alone.
This one has layers. When you are miserable and exhausted, cold and wet, tired and hungry, take a look around. You are not the only one going through it, it’s how you act in times like that that makes all the difference in the world. Just as negative mental attitudes can bring down moral, positive ones can bring it up. Also remember that you always have family back home, you are never alone no matter how far away you are, we are always here for you. Reach out.
This was the advice I gave my son. I tried many times before to talk him out of it, but he was deadest on becoming a Marine. I reached out to fellow Marines, friends and family members and it all seem to come down to it being a calling. One you can’t talk someone out of. You could not have talked me out of it twenty-one years ago, and I wasn’t able to talk him out of it. So, I had to do something that was extremely hard, I had to support him through it. I had to reassure him and scrounge up any and all memories that would assist him as far as solid advice goes. I had to hold my tongue on personal opinions and motivate him. When I first saw the picture of him wearing dress blues after he graduated recruit training, I had the feeling of overwhelming pride but wanted to puke and cry all at the same time. I soon found myself looking through old photos, because that’s what you start to do when you get older, I guess. Almost every picture we have together had the military involved one way or another. So again, my choice twenty-one years ago before my son James was even born, affected his choices in life.
I’ve made many mistakes in my life and I’ve tried to turn them into lessons so that I didn’t repeat them. It didn’t always work, and I didn’t always take my own advice. However, when we learn better, we should do better. It’s never too late to make positive changes in your life and its surely never too late to talk to your children about not making the same ones. My father once told me that a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a smart MF’er learns from others. I knew that he was speaking of himself at the time and didn’t want to see me go down the same road as him, he wanted better for me. I believe many of us want the same for our own children, we just must be willing to put in the work along with them. Talk to your children, lead them through life, set the example. Sometimes we’re good ones and sometimes we’re bad ones, but you have to be willing to admit the bad ones, so they don’t do the same.