5 Tips for Your Military Career!
These are NOT your father’s career tips! Come to the dark side and know how to both get the most out of your career and defend yourself against your chosen career!!!
1 – The Messy File Cabinet
Wether it’s a promotional packet or travel orders or your pay check receipts or your W-2’s or etc etc et-fucking-cetera… your military command WILL (I’ll say it again) …they WILL lose not one or two or three but several important documents that are designed for your record keeping and your protection.
From the first day of your career, including your SF-86 all the way through your last DD-214, you should be making MULTIPLE copies of every single fucking piece of paper that you touch, and even some that you don’t (While not violating any federal laws of course ie Classified/Secret/etc).
Now, you do NOT have to spend two hours every night unlocking two separate file cabinets and trying to create new filing systems to make sure that these documents are easy to find. I would at the most make a drawer or a file folder with whatever year it is on it. We’re in the year 2018? Guess what, every fucking paper that you copy or print out goes in that cardboard box or that drawer of your file cabinet.
Because this is your emergency file. Someone somewhere in your military command will tell you something that isn’t so. They will say “well there’s no documentation of that” or the will say “my documents say something different and you have no proof”. This is your proof. It doesn’t have to be organized and it doesn’t have to be easy to find. This is literally your life boat, so don’t put so much effort into it that you decide to not do it at all, just casually make 2-3 copies of your documents that you deal with daily and bring em home and toss ’em in some type of very very basic system even if it is super unorganized. That’s fine. When you need to protect yourself from your shitty incompetent command some day then you can go home and dig out your files and sit on the floor and look through the stacks.
2 – Live Like a King, With Points
Even if you are not at a deployable unit you will probably end up doing either a moderate amount of traveling or a fucking shit-ton of traveling. Here’s the rub, every single fucking hotel and airline you use for military purposes can also earn you reward points with those companies. SIGN UP! Don’t sign up next time, don’t save your receipt so that you can do it later, make yourself the one enlisted guy at the unit that get’s the suit with the hot tub in it while your officers are staying two to a room during your travels. Ask me how I know. This tip is probably the most fun of all the tips here (that’s what she said).
3 – A Recipe for Disaster With No Benefit
Along with #2 above this one has to do with travel. You will almost undoubtedly be issued a “Government Travel Card” which is a credit card with a fucking ton of restrictions and a direct line to your military chain of command. Now, these fucking idiots in the military haven’t figured out yet that they require your GTC to be paid in full every 30 days but sometimes it takes 90+ days for you to complete your travel and to receive your reimbursement for your thousands of dollars worth of travel!!!!! And when you don’t pay your card off fast enough you literally get punished from your bosses at work.
On the flip side. As long as you aren’t breaking any rules that are too serious I would 100% recommend using a civilian credit card for ALL of your military travel needs. There are NO restrictions on the “what” that you spend your money on and you can always call them and ask them to put a hold on your payments due to a deployment and see what they offer, and you can get airline miles and all sorts of shit, AND if you don’t pay off your personal credit card fast enough then nobody runs and tells daddy (your military command).
Go back and read those two paragraphs above again and ask yourself why the fuck anybody would WANT to use their government travel card?
In 11+ years of my military service I have never, ever, once used my government travel card and I have saved myself SOooooooo much stress because of it. And earned quite a few rewards, for free.
4 – Dual Evidence Collector Machines
Government Workstations aka computers. If you do something wrong, or if you are suspected of doing something wrong, or even if someone ELSE does something wrong and you interact with them via email:
the FIRST thing a military investigator will do is pull up and print out EVERY fucking email and chat dialogue concerning you or the other person being investigated. …and they will use that against you, there is NO doubt of that.
So your military command who “cares deeply about you” will not tell you this, and they will definitely use it as a tool to fucking hammer you to protect their own careers. So what do we do about it? I’m glad you asked.
Any time you do a great job on something, send an email about it to your chain of command (at whatever level is appropriate). Any time your bosses ask you to do something outside of policy just say “yes” and then before you do it shoot them an email that says “About that thing you told me to do, I believe it is outside of policy for me to do that, etc etc. but very respectfully if you could show me the policy that allows that, or maybe here I have attached the policy that prohibits that” – just an example.
And now the tool that they were going to use to fuck you eventually, you are already using it to protect yourself and to fuck them.
By the way, if you believe that military “Officers” are special people born with special powers and they go to bed weeping every night that they wish the could have done more to protect the troops under their command, you’re gonna have a really really difficult career. I wish you the best of luck because the day will come when the truth slaps you across the face and knocks you on your ass. I’m not saying to not have fun and to not have an enjoyable career, just please don’t be blind. Protect yourself.
5 – Learn EVERYTHING You Can. And Certify It.
Whether you are making it a 20 year career and retirement or you are using it as a 4 year stepping stone to get to where you want you should be hoarding every possible qualification and certificate you can get your hands on even if it doesn’t seem exciting. The more you are capable of doing, the more responsibilities you handle, the more qualifications you have in your binder, the more marketable you are to a career after the military.
Not to mention it will really enrich your life trying all sorts of new things and keeping your brain flexible and being in charge of new operations all the time.
See? Sometimes I offer advice without being completely cynical! 🙂
This is absolutely not a complete list of how to manage your career and get the most of it but if on day 1 someone told me to both sign up for airline and hotel reward points and to copy every piece of paper (and not just the ones I though were important) I would have had an even MORE exciting and enjoyable career.
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