7 Things Everyone Should Know About Military Life

Military life comes with its own unique set of challenges—but those challenges quickly become part of who you are.

Between moving around a lot, harsh climates, being separated from relatives and constantly coping with a general sense of the unknown, it's a lifestyle that inevitably shapes who you are, for good.

But current service members, as well as veterans, can take comfort in the fact that they are certainly not alone in their struggles; there are countless others who know exactly what it is they are experiencing.

Here are a few things service men and woman have agreed to be true: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

1. "Where are you from?" is a loaded question

Amanda Macias of Business Insider knows the struggle quite well:

"Not having one permanent home for more than five years can make for a lengthy response to the question, 'Where are you from?' Living in different states and sometimes foreign countries make, 'I'm from all over' the simplest answer."

Lauren Stevens of Scary Mommy agrees: "Saying that you’re not from anywhere is a lot easier than responding 'Georgia-Germany-New York-England-Maryland-Pennsylvania.'"

Hey, at least they are well traveled.

2. Packing quickly and efficiently is a learned skill

This might seem like a useless skill to a military "brat", but adults in the military are inevitably grateful they have the ability to pack an overnight bag with their eyes closed.

"Faced with the possibility of not seeing our most prized possessions for months, we learn to pack favorite items in a backpack and small box. The upside is that when your household goods finally do arrive, it’s like Christmas all over again," says Lauren Stevens.

3. Politeness is the name of the game 

The practice originates in boot camp and quickly becomes an innate habit, says Amanda Macias: "Calling an adult "ma'am" or "sir" is another natural mannerism."

Is it just us, or is this just the polite thing to do when you first meet someone? Either way, you're guaranteed to charm the pants off your significant others' parents.

4. Friendships are tough

And that's putting it lightly.

"'Get in quickly, get out smoothly' is our friendship motto," says Lauren Stevens, of her experience in a military family.

For those in the military or married to a service member, treading lightly is just a force of habit, as you never know when you're going to have to pick up and leave.

"But we find friends everywhere we go," says one Reddit user. Usually, after we've been somewhere for a bit. The secret for us is to take friendships slow in the military. I've seen plenty of wives who rush into being best friends and regretting that later."

5. You learn to appreciate what you have

When a service person returns to civilian life, all the little things you used to worry about suddenly have no weight.

"Food, water and shelter are needs. Everything else is a want. You can live a lot rougher than you think you can," says Reddit user and veteran JustAnotherGraySuit.

IKickComputers agrees. When they returned home from service, things were put into perspective:

"I realized that all my troubles were nothing. Things could be terrible, but they're not, life is great, and I really lucked out. It almost makes me want to join the military so I can come back with even more perspective."

6. Acronyms are a second language

Shorthand is just a way of speaking now.

Paul D. Mooney of Task and Purpose explains:

"A civilian friend, understandably, requires you to explain when you use an acronym. A battle buddy knows that a POV is really just a car, whereas a CAR is a piece of multi-colored fabric that Marines go batsh** crazy over both having and not having."

Who has time for full words and sentences after you've been in the service?

7. Being on time is no joke

When you're in the military, being on time is considered late. Reddit user daash says:

"It feels like no one cares about being on time. For me, be there at seven means be there at 0645. For civilians (some, at least) it means be there between seven and eight."

Military life has its ups and downs, but one thing is certain: it makes you who you are. And that's something to be proud of.

This post is part of Spring.St's In Service series. We're looking at military life and the hard-working families that serve the United States. You can read more here.