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Downtime in the Army and Other Fun Times
How Do You Spend Your Downtime in the Army?
Often, those who decide to sign up and join the Military have an idealized vision of what being a Soldier is really like. Unless you've had a close family member or friend in the military, then you are likely ignorant of the day to day workings of the Military, much less what to do during your downtime and how much free time you'll have in the Army. When you first talk to the military recruiter, he (or she) will likely sugar coat all aspects of the process you're about to go through. Don't blame the recruiter. After all, it's his job to convince you to join, unless you just aren't Military material. But there is a certain amount of truth to what the military recruiter has to say.
The Army likes to promote the social connections and family services available in the Military. The recruiter will likely tell you about all the sports teams, recreational activities, and additional clubs and organizations you can participate in during your free time while in the Army. Even though this all makes the Army seem like fun and games, it serves a genuine purpose. To succeed in their mission, a Unit has to have cohesion. You have to trust the Soldiers in your Unit, and know their capabilities. So all this emphasis on recreation does serve a purpose; team building.
Some of my best memories of my time in the Army was during our down time. Naturally, this is the case with most jobs. Who recalls that their best times in the office were spent answering those customer phone calls or sitting in that management meeting? There's more down time in the Military than you would imagine. Unlike most jobs however, you aren't guaranteed breaks or even time to get a full night's sleep. Basically, you enjoy the free time you've got because you might not get free time again for a while. While in Garrison (when you aren't deployed) Soldiers naturally have more free time, but it's split between family and other obligations so there isn't always time to hang out with fellow Soldiers. It's when in a deployed environment, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that Soldiers really get a chance to spend time together while not on duty. Quite honestly, there isn't much else to do when you aren't on a mission or on duty than to socialize with other Soldiers.
My fondest moments in the Army were while I was deployed to Iraq. It sounds odd, but it's true. I'm not an adrenaline junkie so I didn't get a thrill out of being there, but when you pretty much don't have any other option than to talk to your fellow Soldiers, you find out quite a bit about them and about yourself. After finishing missions several of my teammates and I would crowd into whatever cramped space we could find and watch DVDs, play card games, and have some of the most thought provoking conversations I've ever had. It's amazing what types of conversations you can have when you have very few outside distractions (well, except the war and all that). I think this social time made us a better team. Sure, all of us might not have been friends outside of the Army, but we came to appreciate each other as people and to trust one another when it was time to accomplish the mission.
For More Information On The Military
- The Army Enrollment Process
Signing up to join the Army is a long, involved process that can take weeks or even months to complete.
- Negotiating your way into the Army
Negotiating with a military recruiter is something that most new recruits don't bother to do, or at least not to the extent that they should.