Old Habits Die Hard

On a subReddit thread, the topic was, what subtle habits from your service days have you carried over to your civilian life?

Do you still take your hat off whenever you go indoors? Do you feel nekkid without a hat outdoors.

How many of you wolf down your meal in less time than it takes everyone else to spread their napkin and reach for the salt and pepper?

Civilian readers, what habits tip you off that someone is a vet?

21 thoughts on “Old Habits Die Hard”

  1. I still put out my cigarettes before throwing them in a trashcan, instead of dropping them on the ground. Oh, I also remember the days of going outside for fresh air, and that there is an NSN for ashtrays.

  2. Say ” These days I work for a living.” when a vet calls me Sir. The respectful youts calling me Sir gets asked to call me by my first name.

    I am the despair of my wife in the speed I eat supper. Growing up we got that from my USN Dad. Once when Dad was TDY all five of us sat down to eat and were finished in less than 4 minutes. The rest of the family didn’t go into a military service, so I’m the only one that reinforced that habit.

  3. For me, the tipoff is the language. Few civilians say, “I got your 6,” “BOHICA”, “Get all your s**t in one sock!” There are some colorful swear words in interesting combinations as well.

    1. I taught my boss (a lovely lady) the difference between “ROGER” and “WILCO”.

      I told her that if the spousal unit gives you a “ROGER” when you ask him to cut the lawn, he is acknowledging you asked him. You gotta get a “WILCO” out of him!

  4. I still acknowledge information with “aye.”

    I also have trouble walking and eating, or walking with my hands in my pockets when Chiefs are around.

  5. Last weekend, with Iwo Jima veterans (yes, you all should have been there to see them), when Old Glory was marched into the banquet hall, shoulders were thrust back and chests puffed out. No matter how respectful and patriotic a civilian, none of us civilians can ever manage that look, especially at over 85 years old.

  6. Like others, I still find myself carrying things in my left hand to keep the right free for a salute.

    I still think in military time, and the clocks on my computer, phone and car are all set for military time. I still even use military time when I talk to coworkers.

    When I have to spell things out for people, I still use the phonetic alphabet.

    I don’t say “aye” anymore, but I do find myself using “roger, copy all,” on the phone.

    When I walk somewhere, I still keep to a pretty consistent 120 bpm.

    I’m sure there’s other things, but those are the big ones.

  7. When I used to be around adults regularly (before transitioni to working from home mostly) the things that usually indicated ex-military to me would be posture, over use of the word “hoopla” ( for some reason I lived in an area with a bunch of ex-82nd Airborne guys who all used that word), the phrase “say again” instead of asking me to repeat something, use of phonetic alphabetic instead of random words, and certain hand signals that got used at bars that had to be explained to me.

  8. Speed eating, ending a phone conversation with out here, never wearing a belt without pants, every shirt and jacket in my closet face the same way, hospital folds on my sheets, always sitting on the far side of the room where you can see the door, the list goes on…but I have only been retired for 8 months.

    1. For a guy whose only combat tour was Desert Storm, I always did the “back of the room, face the door” thing, even after my first enlistment, long before Desert Storm. Never understood why. But I still do it.

    2. Not sure about the rest of you, but I managed to not wear belts without pants even before I went into the military.

  9. My wife and I discussed this last night, I asked her if there was any habits she noticed I still carried, she pointed out I wolf my food, take boat showers at home, use 24 hour time for everything and use the phonetic alaphabet. I guess I never noticed some as service habits, since they carried over into my civillian career.
    Improper radio procedure drives me nuts. Woe betide anyone on my crews that “10-4 good buddies” on the VHF.

  10. I always have a lid.
    I always set every new watch, IPhone, or digital timekeeper to 24 hour clock upon purchase.
    Since I still work for the Army my normal pattern of speech is a string of acronyms.
    I combat park anytime I drive a vehicle…including my riding mower.
    Since I was a mid 70s to mid 90s soldier I still wear my hair in a rgulation haircut (like the cast of Mad Men).
    I end all phone conversations with “Out Here”.
    On conferene calls, I say “Over” when I am done speaking.
    It is still the latrine.
    I tell my son to police up his room/garage/yard.
    The only merchants who understand me when I use the phonetic alphabet is USAA.
    I wake up every day at 0430….and now I roll over and go back to sleep.
    I alwayts have to know which direction is North.

    Other than that I am perfectly normal.

  11. I also never sit with my back to the door when out to eat. The wife will even change her position if the hostess seats her where I should be.

  12. Been out over 20 years. Started volunteering as a Boy Scout Commissioner in my son’s district. One day, they asked me to call the meeting to order and lead Boy Scout ColorGuards into the room.

    Thought I did fine until my friends said I anounced “Attention on deck!” to everybody in the hall. At least the ex-Sailors and Marines jumped!!

  13. Retired 17 years, still combat park, check my gig line, keep my hair short and walk with a purpose. About eight years ago I was walking across campus at Cal-Berkeley and an older man was looking at me, when I looked back at him he said, “You must be a military man, I can tell by the way you walk.” Absolutely the last thing I expected at that place.

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