One of many traits the military helped to develop (and discover) was self-confidence. As a few previous posts indicated, growing up I was a shy wall flower…sometimes even scared of my own shadow.
When I entered basic training my senses were assaulted by different values, lifestyles, and yes military culture. It was a good thing I was young because if I had to do basic all over again at 42 I honestly don’t think I would have survived. Not necessarily the physical aspect but more mental. When you are older (at least it seems to me) your tolerance for B.S. and strict order wanes.
However, with that said I can honestly say the military is an excellent forming tool for those individuals who seek self-discipline and self-awareness.
Wearing the uniform becomes almost like a cloak of honor, moral integrity, and courage. When I was entrusted with the rank of sergeant being a Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) meant the world to me…still does. The NCO is the first line supervisor who is there for his/her troops and will maintain solidarity and order with their soldiers.
I have included a partial excerpt of the NCO Creed which I hold close to my heart:
No one is more professional than I. I am a Noncommissioned Officer, a leader of soldiers. As a Noncommissioned Officer, I realize that I am a member of a time honored corps, which is known as “The Backbone of the Army”. I am proud of the Corps of Noncommissioned Officers and will at all times conduct myself so as to bring credit upon the Corps, the Military Service and my country regardless of the situation in which I find myself. I will not use my grade or position to attain pleasure, profit, or personal safety.
Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind — accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. I am aware of my role as a Noncommissioned Officer. I will fulfill my responsibilities inherent in that role. All soldiers are entitled to outstanding leadership; I will provide that leadership. I know my soldiers and I will always place their needs above my own. I will communicate consistently with my soldiers and never leave them uninformed. I will be fair and impartial when recommending both rewards and punishment.
The military gave me a sense of purpose, direction. I was able to come out of my shell and give back to my country the way I always dreamed I could…nothing means more to me than knowing I am part of a unique fraternity/sorority of individuals who wholeheartedly believe in self-sacrifice for the greater good.