How to Survive Military Basic Training

How To Survive Military Basic Training

Basic Military Training
••• Air Guard/Flickr

Choosing to serve in the United States Military is a commitment and a calling to serve that most people who join have before signing up. Many learn to appreciate their decision to serve during boot camp or basic training and for some it takes longer to feel the patriotism and pride of wearing the uniform and being a part of something greater than themselves. And of course there are some who serve who never quite figure it out and do not have such a great experience as many other Americans have had while serving.


Some people go into basic training in survival mode and have a tough time meeting the standards everyday, but nonetheless in the end figure it out and have a feeling of accomplishment like they have never had in their lives. Some hard chargers however, go to basic training prepared physically and mentally for the challenges that lie ahead of them and embrace the training as a team player and leader among their peers. How do you do this?  Prepare yourself physically for starters and the mind will follow.  Learn how to be a good team player while in high school / college whether that is sports, band, or club activities. These are some of the valuable skills you can start learning now that will benefit you during your military journey. 

Surviving the First Four Years

Currently, over 40 percent of those who enlist in the military do not make it through the first four years. A significant portion of these do not even make it through boot camp.

For many, this is because of unrealistic expectations. The military (and especially Boot Camp) is not what they thought it would be. Sometimes recruiters do too good a job of selling the military as just another occupation. Then, once the recruit wakes up at 0300 with a drill instructor screaming in their face, they say to themselves "Whoa!

Where's the 'Condos' and the 'gourmet food?' Where's the NCO Club, and the Gym, and the discount PX items? Where's the job I was told about?" If you are asking these questions during boot camp or basic - just relax, it will all fall into place after you graduate.  To get to the cool things the military offers, you have to endure the test.  And that test is boot camp. 

Some Helpful Pieces of Advice

Regardless of what your recruiter told you, being a member of the United States Armed Forces is not just like having a civilian job. You need to understand this right down to your toes before you sign that contract and take that oath. In the military, there will ALWAYS be someone telling you what to do, when to do it, and how to do it -- and you've got to do it. Sometimes they'll tell you to do something that you don't want to do, or tell you in a way that makes you angry. Failing to do it is not an option. The willful disobeying of a lawful order won't just get you "fired," as it would in a civilian occupation, it can get you sent to jail. The answer to do quickly learn to do what you are told to do.

In the military, you'll work the hours you are told to work, you'll work "overtime" with no additional pay, you'll do the tasks you're assigned to do (even if they don't relate exactly with your "job"), you'll live where you're told to live, and you'll deploy where and when you're told to deploy.

If you're not absolutely willing to make these sacrifices, then do yourself and the government a big favor and don't join. However, if you are willing to put the needs of your country and your service ahead of your own, you'll find several rewards in a military career (or even a short term of service). You'll also be one of the 60 percent who make it to the end of their service commitment and either reenlist or walk away content with an Honorable Discharge.

Military boot camp is like nothing you've ever experienced. However, the rigid routine and absolute control over every aspect of your life is several times worse than normal military duty -- on purpose. It's the job of the Training Instructors (T.I.'s) and Drill Instructors (D.I.'s) to either adjust your attitude to a military way of thinking (self-discipline, sacrifice, loyalty, obedience) or to drum you out before the military spends too much money on your training.

They do this by applying significant degrees of physical and mental stress, while at the same time teaching you the fundamentals of military rules; and the policies, etiquette, and customs of your particular military service.

While it may seem sadistic to those who are going through it, the T.I.'s and D.I.'s really do not kill and eat small children in their off-duty time. Nor do they derive any particular pleasure in your pain and discomfort. The training programs are scientifically and psychologically designed to tear apart the "civilian" and build from scratch a proud, physically fit, and dedicated member of the United States Armed Forces. Go into it with a little fore-knowledge, the right attitude, and a few tips, and you'll graduate with no problems. You'll find that boot camp simply gets just a little bit easier each and every day. You may also find in the future that your military service was a major part of developing who you are - no matter the length of service.

In fact, when you're finished and you go through that final parade, you may find that most civilians seem to be just a tad unorganized and undisciplined to suit your tastes.