What did you learn in the military that has been useful for your life?
Two important things. And it took me a long time to acquire these “skills “. The most important things the military taught me are to stay calm in every situation; not to make a big deal out of minor mishaps and to appreciate what is important in life.
Soldier, not giving a f… in Iraq (cnn.com/getty images)
In basic training you got yelled at, then during your army time your commanding officers always expect the impossible from you: Getting up, showering and shaving, eating breakfast, then cleaning up the place and shining your boots and all in 10 minutes!
After a while I figured out that they really do not expect you to finish all these tasks so quickly. They just want to see if you stay cool. It’s a game.
Then as a paratrooper I went to jump school, more screaming involved. Worst time however was during Non Commissioned Officer training, where this “game” almost went too far. Staying in the rain and building trenches for days and then having a written test in the classroom at 3 o’clock in the morning about military tactics.
Later I fought in two wars and I remember one situation that really taught me to stay calm. We were advancing on a road when two enemy tanks showed up and started firing at us. One Croat soldier was very worried and came to talk to one of my friends to ask him what to do. My friend was an old veteran and when this guy almost screamed at him: “There are two tanks!”, my friend just shrugged, smiled and in the calmest voice said:“So what?”
I was impressed. This moment I decided that if this guy keeps his calm in every situation, I can do the same.
We all have our worries, but often we lose perspective. Even small things rob us of our calm. If this is happening to me I always remember those people I met during the war, people who basically lost everything they had and loved. Then my actual problems seem much smaller and are usually easier to solve or if not, at least I can live with them.
In civil life, when people around me get angry or worried for absolutely nothing I usually keep my calm. I mean, after all I went through during the war it would be somehow a desecration of my memories if I would start to make a fuss about every little problem that I encounter in life. War teaches you what is really important.