If Someone Has These Traits, You Can Bet They’ve Served In The Military!

When you see a soldier, there is usually something about them that indicates they’ve served in the military. We’re not just talking about a man in uniform. Every military person carries themselves in a particular manner that separates them from your ordinary citizen. They also know and do things that your everyday joe wouldn’t even be able to comprehend. Whether it be the supreme shine on their boots or the fierce way they stand, you’ll know who you’re dealing with right away. Those who’ve served in the military should relate to each one of these traits.

Bed = Floor

sleeping on the floor

You won’t need a bed after you complete basic training. Your first form of training pretty much prepares you to sleep anywhere and that includes the rock hard ground. Beds are not everywhere you go when you’re in the military, so it makes sense that they would have to adjust to sleeping on the floor.

That can be the dirt, grass, sand, or concrete; it does not matter. Military personnel will find a spot and make it their own.

Staying Sharp

ironing navy
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When it comes to being a soldier there are plenty of rules you need to abide by. One standard that will surely get you yelled at is if you’re not looking very presentable. This means, is your uniform as perfectly crisp as it can be?

Never will you ever catch a military person (or one who used to be) wearing wrinkled clothing. It just isn’t the proper way to present yourself when representing your country.

It’s In The Walk

Walking military
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A trait you might not have realized that can help single out military members is the way he or she moves. That’s right, you spot them out from a mile away based on the cadence and pace of their walk.

Soldiers walk with a keen sense of control and purpose. They know where they are headed and they look like bosses on their way. Also be aware that if you’re walking with one of these fine men or women, you might have to speed up your pace.


speaking acronyms

While those in the military may have their own jargon which turns into a specific language, they also have something else they have to learn. That would be speaking in acronyms. For example, you might hear one of them say “WAG.” and not see a dog in sight.

Some others include BOHICA and SNAFU. You won’t understand a word they are saying, but they can hear each other loud and clear. Who knows, they might be making fun of you in private (they wouldn’t do that).

A Little Whistle While You Go


If you happen to be using a bathroom stall and someone is in the next one, there’s a way to tell if they were in the military. If they start whistling while they’re going, they either were or still are serving.

There is little information on where this tradition stemmed from, but it is common practice in the military. That means if you happen to do that, people might mistake you for something you’re not. That’s not always a bad thing, however.

Note The Time

military time
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Military time is way different than the regular time ordinary citizens use. If you ask a stranger what time it is and they respond with “it’s 22:00,” then you know you’re dealing with a member of the military.

No need to throw in an AM or PM when you can just count to 24 hours. At least, that’s how they feel about the situation and it makes more sense when you’re out on the battlefield or in another country where the time zone isn’t what you’re used to.

The Must-Have Cut

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Regular citizens have the pleasure of leaving the barbershop with whatever hairstyle their heart desires. That’s something you might find yourself taking for granted. Soldiers don’t get that same luxury, unfortunately. They must get the same buzz cut.

It’s not all that bad, but having choices is always fun. Once their service is done, they can get whatever type of style they want. Most stick to what they’ve become accustomed to for the most part and don’t change much.

Scanning Very Well


From their start in the service, soldiers are taught how to scan and assess situations remarkably well. Why wouldn’t they receive this valuable training? There could be a dangerous situation unfolding that the untrained eye wouldn’t even notice, one that could potentially lead to severe casualties.

Soldiers spot out anything that is out of the ordinary, and if something unusual is seen, they act accordingly. Don’t be alarmed if one of your friends who has served scans the park where you’re having your child’s birthday party.

At Ease!

at ease

The way soldiers stand doesn’t always seem that relaxing or comfortable if you ask a regular person. Their “at ease” stance is not one that comes naturally, but with practice they get it down pat and it becomes a way of life.

Once they stand this way for a couple of years, it becomes second nature. Sometimes, they have to stand this way for over an hour. They sometimes even in stand like this in civilian life and not think twice about it.

Sir And Ma’am

sir and maam
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If there’s anything you can say about soldiers it’s that they are extremely respectful. It is an unwritten law that they have to be or else it just wouldn’t be right. No matter who they encounter — the milkman, your parents, or even the gardener — you can expect respect to be shown.

They will always refer to males or females as sir or ma’am, respectively. It’s just how they were taught and there’s no other way to do things.

Eating Quickly

fast eaters
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When you’re in a war, you can imagine that eating a leisurely meal is the least of your concerns. Your life is on the line already, so if you must eat something, it’s going to be quick. Soldiers are used to eating meals in record time.

Also, they usually have to get back to their post, so eating happens rather swiftly in any environment they’re in. This usually means it isn’t easy for the soldier to get back to how they ate before joining the military.

Special Jargon


Did you think that those in the military didn’t have their own language? They can’t be out there saying things for any and everybody to understand. Sometimes they have to communicate things in special ways.

In the movies, you’ve heard phrases like “roger that,” “negative,” and “affirmative,” but this is actually how they speak. It’s like learning a whole new language and it’s hard to shake once you’ve left the service. Do you roger that?


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To the select few of you who are reading this and don’t use curse words, good job. Now, to everyone else who lets a bad word slip from their mouth more often than not, you are sure to relate to service people.

They aren’t trying to be rude, it’s just how they speak with one another. You might talk like that too, so don’t judge them for it. One thing you don’t want to do is anger a [expletive] drill sergeant.

Keep It Polished

polish boots
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Piggybacking on an earlier slide, soldiers always must look their best from head to toe. That includes having the shiniest of boots. In fact, the boot is one of the most important features of their clothing. It is essential they are in great condition.

Soldiers spend any amount of time necessary to make their boots shine and look amazing. If you see someone with unusually shiny boots, just know they are more than likely military affiliated.

Special Fridges

army fridge
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A standard refrigerator found in a person’s home usually is covered by what? Some magnets, photos of friends and family, maybe some reminders and a few other things. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Soldiers’ fridges are different. A soldier’s fridge will be packed with clues about their service. That includes war memorabilia and other military items you wouldn’t find on a regular fridge. Next time you’re invited to a militant home, take a look in the kitchen and see for yourself.

The Salute

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Some people have interesting or unique ways to say hello. In some cultures, a simple head nod indicates a greeting. Of course, the most universal of them is the hand wave. Those in the military have the salute.

The style of saluting varies among the different branches of the military, and each branch has its own set of rules and customs for saluting. Don’t expect a former military member to salute you on the street, however. They don’t salute civilians.

No Kitchen Here, Welcome To The Mess

The Mess

When it’s time to eat, where do you go, the kitchen? That’s where everyone goes to get their food in the house. To a soldier, it’s not the kitchen because they call it something completely different. No matter how clean it is, it will always be “the mess.”

Head on over to the mess when its time to serve yourself. Call it the kitchen if you want to look like a newbie. The irony here is that soldiers are hardly messy.

Call Of Duty Showdown

call of duty
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“Call of Duty” is one of the most popular video games out there among teens and kids alike. The game’s popularity doesn’t end there, however, as soldiers love to play it just as much as any other civilian.

The difference is that those in the military know how fake the game is compared to what they really do. Sure, it’s super easy just to walk around with an extra pistol, rifle, and rocket launcher. Try doing that in real life.

Boot-Topping Or Black Paint?

Paint or boot topping
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Can you spot the difference between black paint and boot-topping? We would guess no, but they are virtually the same thing. Boot-topping is a black coating that gets lathered between the waterline and deck.

The topping is made from lime or sulfur and is thick and has a liquid texture. Regular civilians would never be able to tell black paint and boot-topping apart. But you guessed it, a military expert could spot the difference from a mile away.

Remain Quiet In Line

quiet line

Remember those days back in elementary school when your teacher made you line up and be quiet before they let you back in the classroom? Maybe not, but imagine that and now you’re envisioning how soldiers stand in line.

When they line up, there is no noise to be heard. It stems from their time in basic training when they would line up awaiting orders or their turn to enter the mess. The same goes for when they wait in the line to use the ATM or await the arrival of a bus.

Checking Your Vehicle

checking your car

You must always be disciplined when you’re in the military. If that’s not a trait you already have then you will certainly gain it after joining. Before heading out on a mission, one must always check your vehicle.

That’s part of where the discipline comes into play. It is your duty to always make sure your car is safe and prepared. That goes for helicopters, jets, and anything in between. You can bet they keep this up with their own cars after they’re done with their service.

Chore List

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A chore list is a sure-fire way to make sure that you remember to get things done. Yes, it can be easy to forget what you need to do after writing your tasks down, but for soldiers, it’s imperative that they always remember.

A chore list in the Army ensures that everyone knows what they have to do and that it gets done. The moment someone doesn’t do their duty, he or she is held accountable.

Skip The Light Show

no fireworks
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Ever heard of a thing called PTSD? Well, we hope so, because it’s a real condition that soldiers who have been deployed experience all the time. This means that many of them are in the business of skipping out on the beauty of fireworks.

All the loud bangs in the sky can serve as triggers that reignite up their PTSD. They’ve experienced enough of those violent noises in dangerous situations. They don’t mind skipping a few light shows.

Call It The Power Stance

power stance

Walking a certain way, being polite while greeting anyone, and remaining quiet while standing are all skills you get to learn while being in the military. Another thing is the way you stand, as it is different based on rank.

Based on their rank, a soldier will stand in what they call a power stance. It’s a way of standing that exudes confidence just from their posture. Certainly, not everyone stands like this, so you’ll know right away who is who if you see someone with a power stance.

You Have Your Squad

your squad

Imagine being on the battlefield with complete strangers while your life is on the line. That doesn’t sound so great, does it? This is why the men and women that a soldier shares the battlefield with are some of the most important people in their lives.

They are the ones who are mainly responsible for helping to keep you safe. Yes, you have to look out for yourself, but when others are there to have your back as well, it is crucial that you all trust each other.

Two Honks!

honking twice
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There are a ton of practices that military people have ingrained into them while serving for their country. No matter how long they’ve been out of service, they will continue to do what they were taught, no matter how hard they try and ditch the habit.

One of their standard practices includes honking twice to signal they are backing up. It’s just a simple warning gesture when they aren’t in a vehicle that beeps automatically when backing up.

The Flag

american flag
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The American flag is a symbol of the entire United States. One thing a service member will not do is disrespect the flag and all that it represents. The military believes the flag deserves the utmost respect.

When a flag gets raised, all soldiers will stop what they’re doing and stand for it. Sometimes they will even salute. The flag is one thing you should not mess with when you’re in the military. You will definitely find yourself in an awkward situation if you do.

Back’s Against The Wall

back to the wall
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Usually, when your back is against the wall, that means you have nowhere to go. The saying “my back is against the wall” is usually likened to having no more options. In the military, this is not the case. In fact, its more like the opposite.

Having your back against the wall means that you’re safe. When you don’t have to look behind you, all you have to do is watch out for the threats in front of you.

Hospital Corners

neat corners
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Once again we are back at the theme of cleanliness. It’s something that a soldier has embedded into their DNA from basic training and keeps throughout the rest of his or her life. There are no exceptions and no excuses.

One thing that is always at peak tidiness is a soldier’s bed. Something called “hospital corners” will make sure that all the beds are neat and they look the same. This is something you can do in your own home too.

War Movie Anger

war movie angers
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Imagine you did something for a living and put a ton of work into it and even risked your life. Then, Hollywood comes and makes movies about it, but they couldn’t be any further from the truth in their portrayal.

That is why you shouldn’t be surprised when a soldier gets angry about how movies about war turn out. They rarely depict what its like to be out there. Some may get close, but don’t think you know what that life is about after just watching a few films.

What Are Knife Hands, Exactly?

military knife hands

Knife hands are what military members use when explaining something to other people. They point, while keeping their hand flat. All their fingers are then pointed at their subject and are perfectly aligned.

Once they leave the service, the muscle memory for this doesn’t go away. If you know somebody who served, pay attention to how they hold the hands the next time they answer a question. You’ll be surprised just how common knife hands are.

Sleeping In Doesn’t Mean What You Think

soldiers sleeping
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Soldiers get up early. It might as early as four in the morning, seven days a week. In the service, this is part of the job, taught to soldiers as soon as basic training starts, and is something everyone has to deal with. Outside of the service, it gives a whole new meaning to “sleeping in.”

Could you imagine waking up at six in the morning on a Saturday and feeling refreshed? If you answered yes, then you might have served in the military.

This Is What “Popping Smoke” Means


When a soldier needs to create a diversion on the battlefield, one go to tactic they use is to “pop smoke.” The smoke bomb they use then provides them cover to move to another location. This is vital during on-field conflicts and has taken on a whole new meaning while off-duty.

Back home, soldiers use the term “pop smoke” to mean they’re leaving. They have to be somewhere else, and “popping smoke” means they’re not waiting around any longer.

A Surprising Food Secret

military food

It’s no secret that Americans have an obsession with hot sauce, but can you guess which is the preferred brand of soldiers? The answer is Tabasco, the spicy red sauce that packs flavor and spice.

Soldiers love Tabasco, and use it to liven up their otherwise repetitive MREs. If you don’t know, MREs are “ready to eat” meals that come in bag. This version of military cuisine has been around since 1990, and continues to evolve today.

The Home Of The Brave

soldier singing
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This might sound corny, but few people in the United States feel as strongly about the National Anthem as soldiers do. They chose to serve their country, and this pride gives the patriotic ode to America a special meaning.

You might also notice that at sporting events, soldiers are given the opportunity to sing the song in front of thousands of fans. This is one of the biggest honors someone in the service can be given.

The 15 Minute Rule

15  minutes early rule

Time is incredibly important in the military, and showing up to anything late can have devastating consequences. Because of this, soldiers tend to disregard the “fashionably late” rule and acceptable.

Instead, military members always make sure they’re early. Showing up at least 15 minutes early seems to be the standard. By arriving up early not only do that get to experience the entire occasion, they can also help with any last minute prep that need to gets done.

Only Use The Words That Matter


You know that friends who seems to talk forever when they’re explaining something to you? We’d bet they never served in the military. With such high stakes in the service, the words you use must be the ones that matter. There’s just no time for anything else.

That means service members tend to get to the point and say what they need to say in the shortest amount of words possible. This is why it’s called being “briefed.”

The Best Gym Playlist


Ex-soldiers don’t just listen to any song or playlist when they’re working out. They go back to their military roots and use “Cadence” to keep their motivation as high as possible.

While they were originally training, “Cadence” was their soundtrack for working hard and not giving up. Now that they’re no longer serving they still want to work just as hard. At least in the gym, they do, and listening to this music takes them back to where it all began.

The Right Weapon

soldier gun
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When you serve in the military, having a weapon becomes a part of who you are. They may be considered controversial today, but not by service members. For them, that pistol or rifle becomes an extension of their body.

Imagine losing your phone after you’ve been attached to its convenience for so long. For a soldier, carrying a gun in the field as just as common as a civilian playing on their phone on the bus. Even after they leave the military, many soldiers say they can still feel their guns on them!

The Letters Of The Alphabet

phonetic alphabet
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To avoid confusion over radio, soldiers will often use words to replace letters of the alphabet. Instead of saying “J” for instance, they say “Juliet.” One of the most common ones is saying “Delta” for “D.”

Speaking this way almost give soldiers their own secret language. Would you be able to decipher what they might saying to each other if you overheard a conversation using the phonetic alphabet? They might be speaking in English, but it really does feel like a whole different language.