19 Unmistakable Habits of Someone Who’ve Served in the Military

Military service leaves its mark in unique ways. From subtle habits to certain preferences, veterans often carry unmistakable signs of their service. Here are some of the most commonly cited traits from an online forum’s discussion on this topic.

Being able to sleep through anything

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The ability to sleep through just about anything, yet wake up instantly at the slightest unusual sound, is a skill many veterans seem to have. It’s like they’re always on alert, even in the deepest of sleeps. Think about sleeping through a thunderstorm but waking up to a whisper.

Not being able to sleep at all

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Conversely, some veterans struggle with sleep. The transition from sleeping in unpredictable environments to the quiet of home can be challenging. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the nightmares and restlessness that can plague them after their service.

Not getting embarrassed easily

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Years of close-quarters living can leave veterans unfazed by situations that might embarrass others. Needing toilet paper while on the john and asking a passerby? Just another day for someone who’s been in the military.

Having a USAA membership

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USAA and NFCU memberships are common among veterans and their families. It’s a subtle hint, but those in the know can spot it. It’s like a small badge of their service background.

A deep love of cargo shorts

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Veterans often joke about their love for cargo shorts. It’s the pockets – so practical, so handy. It’s not just a fashion choice; it’s a lifestyle. More pockets equal better shorts, right?

A hatred for seafoam green

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If someone has a deep-seated aversion to seafoam green, they might have military experience. It’s intriguing how specific and intense this dislike can be. It’s almost like the color represents a part of their past they’d rather not remember.

Being divorced before 25

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Sadly, early divorce is not uncommon among those who’ve served, especially for those who married young. The strains of military life can take a toll on relationships. It’s a somber reality that many young service members face.

Thinking everyone is late

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The military’s emphasis on punctuality can make veterans feel like the rest of the world is always running late. “Early is on time, on time is late,” as they say. It’s a habit that sticks with them, often leading to a lot of waiting around in civilian life.

Never talking about it

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Some veterans rarely, if ever, talk about their service, especially if they’ve seen combat. Their silence can be a shield, protecting both themselves and others from the realities they faced. It’s a form of stoicism that speaks volumes.

Eating their food very quickly

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The habit of eating quickly is common among veterans. Whether it’s finishing a meal in record time at a restaurant or methodically working through each item on the plate, this behavior is a leftover from their days in the service where mealtimes were often rushed.

Buying a Mustang with a huge interest rate

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The stereotype of a young service member buying a flashy car at a steep interest rate is a story told in many military circles. It’s a rite of passage that’s often looked back on with a mix of humor and regret.

Using a veteran discount 

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Veterans often make use of discounts offered to them as a small token of appreciation for their service. Whether it’s at hardware stores or local shops, that extra savings is something they’ve earned and are quite savvy about using.

Using acronyms that literally nobody else understands

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Military jargon is a language of its own. When veterans drop acronyms in conversation, it can leave civilians scratching their heads. It’s a habit that’s hard to shake and can make for some confusing conversations.

Being incredibly sensible

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Veterans are often praised for their sensibility and no-nonsense approach to problem-solving. They tend to be direct and efficient, qualities that are highly valued in their military life and can be a real asset in civilian teams.

Carrying everything in your left hand

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The practice of keeping the right hand free for salutes is deeply ingrained in military personnel. Even after leaving the service, many veterans find it unnatural to carry items in their right hand. Old habits die hard.

Problems with your knees and back

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Chronic knee and back issues are a common complaint among veterans, often a result of the physical demands of their service. It’s a sobering reminder of the toll that military life can take on the body.

Hearing issues

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Exposure to loud noises during service can lead to long-term hearing problems for many veterans. The constant ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, is a shared and often unspoken hardship they endure.

Struggles with alcoholism 

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Unfortunately, some veterans turn to alcohol to cope with the stresses of their service and its aftermath. Their battles with alcoholism are a stark reminder of the mental health challenges that can accompany military life.

Not calling yourself ‘ex-military’

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Many who’ve served in the military prefer terms like “former military” or “veteran.” It’s a subtle distinction but an important one. It reflects a respect for their service and an understanding that their military experience is a lifelong part of their identity.


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