Life in the army
When people think of soldiers, chances are the first image that pops into their head is that of a private fully clothed in camo combat uniform with a rifle steady on his hand, already aimed at the enemy. While this is true, fighting in the front lines is more of an exceptional circumstance than the actual norm, particularly because of the regularity of rotation within the army service.
Think of the American armed forces as a well-oiled machine where every nut and bolt, no matter how small, contributes to the proper functioning of the machine. The army isn’t all about physical combat on the ground; it’s also about effective leadership, intelligence gathering, and logistics planning. Hollywood movies make it seem that all the army does, or any of the branches of American defense for that matter, are heart-pumping and adrenaline-inducing missions. The Hurt Locker or Top Gun come to mind.
But in reality, most of the things that make the army tick are far from the battlefield. This may not be at the top of your mind, but it also involves supplying food and supplies to the troops, making sure they are healthy and of sound state of mind and body.
A soldier’s life is also a lonely life, being far away from home and family. And if you’re just starting out, your fate depends on where your superiors assign you. You will probably be relocated to a faraway destination, and although there is a relatively stable supply of basic needs, you are most likely to rely on your own and your comrades.
Much emphasis has been given to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the army, especially for those soldiers coming from the war. There’s no shortage of stories and personal accounts about the difficulty of reintegrating into civil society. Just reading J. D. Salinger, for example, will give you a rough idea of how hard it is to adjust and interact with people especially if you’re still reeling from the ravage and the squalor of the battlefield.
But a typical soldier will most likely fall prey to alcoholism, loneliness, and depression as these are more common occurrences than PTSD is. There’s a growing number of men and women in the service who have a problem with drinking and smoking as these have become coping mechanisms with the loneliness in their far-flung stations. It’s a temporary distraction from the stress of being in the field but in the long run will most likely have lasting negative effects on the individual.
The army isn’t for everyone, and as I have outlined in my previous post on joining the army, it’s a tedious and challenging journey. But joining the army is a completely different ball game from actually working in the armed forces. In training, the recruit is exposed to arduous tasks and simulations, but upon dispatch, the events that transpire are no longer exercises but a matter of life and death. It most definitely isn’t easy. That’s why I have the utmost respect for all the men and women in the army protecting our mighty nation.
Langley, William. 2012. “What Is Life Really Like for the Soldier of 2012?” Accessed July 7, 2017. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/9329265/What-is-life-really-like-for-the-soldier-of-2012.html.
Cornish, Paul. 2014. “The Daily Life of Soldiers.” Accessed July 7, 2017. https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/the-daily-life-of-soldiers.