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Captcha
12-22-2010, 03:29 AM
I have a character who spent about ten years in the US military (Army, 10th Mountain Division, I think). He's home now, and hasn't told anyone where he was.

But I want someone to figure it out, or at least to get enough clues that she starts digging around for a possible military record. So, without him telling her, what might she notice?

He wasn't exactly an exemplary soldier, I don't think. He was good at the physical part, and he's smart enough, but he's too independent to be a good team player. He was skilled enough that people generally found ways for him to be useful, but the current-day clues shouldn't be something like snapping to attention or spit-shining his boots. If there are things of that sort that any 10-year veteran, no matter how independence-minded, would have unconsciously picked up and been unable to shed (he's only been out a few months), then, okay. But otherwise, something less ceremonial would be cool.

Thanks for any suggestions.

DamaNegra
12-22-2010, 03:31 AM
Maybe he knows too much about guns or military tactics and somehow lets that slip in a conversation? Like they're discussing a current war and he gives some opinions that are just too specific or too well thought-out for a civilian, and that sparks a little doubt?

thothguard51
12-22-2010, 03:40 AM
I take it the SHE you mention did not know the soldier before he went away.

She might notice he talks freer around other men or women who have been in the military. She might notice a tatoo that represents an insignia from a unit, or deployment. She might notice his reluctance to take sides in certain political debates involving the military, like DADT. Maybe he is over sensative in his reactions to loud noises that sound like guns or bombs going off.

I think it will all depend on how observant she is and her own experiences around other military members...

CatSlave
12-22-2010, 03:40 AM
His speech is peppered with acronyms, his haircut is always just a little bit shorter than fashionable, he is always perfectly groomed, he wears a white t-shirt under his regular shirts, his posture is perfect, when standing relaxed he is always balanced on both feet.

He has no se for video games.

CatSlave
12-22-2010, 03:41 AM
Oops, he has no USE for video games.

(I lost my edit buttons.)

Marlys
12-22-2010, 03:42 AM
How about a tattoo? If he's not a team player, it doesn't have to be a unit tattoo, but could be one that he got while stationed abroad. A word in the local language, or some sort of emblem representing the country or city.

Or it could be something relating to his unit or company--'not a team player' doesn't necessarily mean he didn't bond with the other folks in his unit. Could even be the name of a buddy and the date he was killed (and that's something she could look up, especially if the last name is unusual).

Drachen Jager
12-22-2010, 03:45 AM
Posture. Ex military types have far better posture than their peers. Most people, especially younger people have terrible posture these days but in the army you get drilled into good posture, especially noticeable when walking, which will be much closer to marching.

That would be my first clue, especially if I knew the person before.

Rowan
12-22-2010, 03:48 AM
Speaking as a former Marine... I have a thing for creases and can't stand wrinkles. I used to be an obsessive bed-maker but I've since broken that habit. No more tight corners/bouncing quarters for me! :) (but maybe this stuck with him---in the military, your gear has to be in order. So maybe his drawers/closets are super tidy--t-shirts folded, dress shirts hung and organized by color and pressed).

Also, you tend to eat fast coming out of the military. Where was he assigned while on active duty? If he saw any combat, that changes things a lot.

Does he still look like a soldier--high and tight haircut, etc.? Tatts are popular too!

Anyway, I think boot camp changes most people for the better. I think all fellow jarheads I encounter are very respectful--you'll hear sir/ma'am a lot--tend to walk with an air of confidence too. Most of my friends tell me I don't look like a Marine but I act like a Marine.

And as someone else pointed out--they'll use a lot of military jargon. It tends to stick with you.
USMC (**Editing to add the word EXAMPLES, as in these are Marine Corps examples of military-speak that might stick with a former whatever :)):
Hat = cover
Toilet = head
Neat and Tidy = Squared away
etc. etc. etc.

Haggis
12-22-2010, 03:51 AM
A scar, perhaps from a bullet or shrapnel wound. A limp. A missing limb or finger. The occasional 500 mile stare. But mostly the posture as mentioned above.

Rowan
12-22-2010, 03:53 AM
A scar, perhaps from a bullet or shrapnel wound. A limp. A missing limb or finger. The occasional 500 mile stare. But mostly the posture as mentioned above.

I've gotta say--love the cute little DEVIL DOG! ooh-rah! :)

mscelina
12-22-2010, 03:54 AM
The thing I've always noticed--and it's very subtle--is the posture. You can take a man out of the military, but you can't take that posture out of his spine. I'm not talking about standing 'at ease' either, but just a general straight posture that folks who aren't in the military can't emulate.

Unless they wear a back brace.

The other thing I noticed too is that an ex-soldier's clothes are usually...crisper. They're used to ironing their uniforms, and for many that extends to keeping their civvies neater and crisper than others. (Reason # 1 why my husband would have *sucked* in the military).

Same thing goes for cars, houses, closets--a very precise orderliness. Almost to the point of OCD. My dad (Master Sgt, 101st Airborne) still makes his bed up every morning military style, still lays out his clothes for the next day military style, and still has his closet organized so precisely that my stepmother refuses to put clothes into it. He does his own laundry because he's so picky, and if someone

Also, I think this will depend a bit upon the character's rank. He may not be an exemplary soldier in some aspects, but that doesn't necessary preclude him from rising in the ranks. (ie--my brother in law is a good example of that) If he is an NCO, for example, he will retain some of those traits as he makes his transition back into the civilian world.

Haggis
12-22-2010, 03:55 AM
I was Army. We don't ooh-rah. We unh. :D

Drachen Jager
12-22-2010, 03:55 AM
And as someone else pointed out--they'll use a lot of military jargon. It tends to stick with you.
USMC:
Hat = cover
Toilet = head
Neat and Tidy = Squared away
etc. etc. etc.

Yes yes, but he's ex ARMY, he won't use MARINE jargon. A toilet is a toilet or possibly latrine. I think squared away is exclusively Marine-talk. Some people called hats covers but more commonly it was called a lid, and most common of all, a 'hat' (weird huh?).

Drachen Jager
12-22-2010, 03:59 AM
Oh, I don't know if they do this in the American army, but in the Canadian forces if you had a question you brought your upper arm out at a 45 degree angle (45 from straight down), lower arm 90 degrees to the upper arm hand in a fist rather than raising a hand. That stuck with me for quite some time after getting out.

Rowan
12-22-2010, 04:02 AM
Yes yes, but he's ex ARMY, he won't use MARINE jargon. A toilet is a toilet or possibly latrine. I think squared away is exclusively Marine-talk. Some people called hats covers but more commonly it was called a lid, and most common of all, a 'hat' (weird huh?).

Yeah, I can read, Drachen. ;) I got the whole "Army 10th Mountain Div" part from the OP. :D

I was using those as examples, which is why I put the "USMC" header in there. As a former Marine, I don't know Army speak but was giving the OP an idea as to how we former military types tend to continue using the obscure jargon. I'm sure the Army dogs can give her some Army speak to use for her character.


Posted by HAGGIS:
I was Army. We don't ooh-rah. We unh. :D
What is that? A grunt? ;) You were Army....well now that explains a lot! :D

thothguard51
12-22-2010, 04:05 AM
I would not say short hair means someone was military, but rather is he compulsive about his hair not being over his collar? Does he fold his cap a certain way when not wearing it?

A white T-shirt under his regular shirt...again, this is not definitive because I wore white t-shirts before I was ever in the military. I would also feel this is more an officer thing than enlisted men because enlisted men wear grays or khaki t shirts more these days than white... Unless your navy...

The use of acronyms is not exclusive to the military as lots of professional people in insurance, banking, and stocks use acronyms as well. It will depend on if the acronyms are exclusive to the military.

This is where the experience of your female character around other military men and women will help her put two and two together.

Cyia
12-22-2010, 04:09 AM
Lockstep.

They keep that rhythm to their gait for quite a while.

Rowan
12-22-2010, 04:12 AM
I think an astute person will clue in if he/she notices a combination of the habits pointed out in this thread--ie., use of military jargon, attentiont to detail (esp if combined with his being evasive about his past), etc. and so forth.

I'm sure Kate will work it out so her character starts to suspect he's former military by piecing together all of these facts--and maybe she does some investigating (snooping) on her own.

And as you (ThothGuard51) pointed out, perhaps she's got some sort of military experience or knowledge. Maybe her father/brother served? Maybe she dated a Marine or grew up near an Air Force base? The possibilities are endless. :)

Snowstorm
12-22-2010, 04:14 AM
Posture was the first thing I thought of. I've had comments from folks in this burg who notice how I walk (more like stride, upright, no-nonsense). I also tend, even though it's been ten years, to stand at a--okay relaxed--parade rest. Actually, it's rather comfortable when you're used to it.

Has a duffle bag, perhaps with his fabric name tag sewn to it.

backslashbaby
12-22-2010, 04:22 AM
He might have high frequency hearing loss; at least, that's how Dad's had his forever.

One giveaway I've noticed is if people have lived a lot of places. Often they'll talk about that without mentioning that they were in the military or military brats. If they've lived in another country and don't speak the language, that can be a big clue, I've found.

cbenoi1
12-22-2010, 04:24 AM
> Army, 10th Mountain Division

Cool as ice even under stressful situations. The way he looks at things and people and remembers the details. A sharp knowledge of time. Never asks for directions when on the road. Carries detailed maps and a compass in his car/truck. The more combat the guy had seen the more acute his senses.

-cb

Hallen
12-22-2010, 04:25 AM
His language. He'll have a tendency to use the term "Hooah". It's a bit like the term "Dude". It can be a question, "Hooah?", a response like OK, "Hooah", or it can be an exclamation of success or happiness, "Hooah!". He'll use terms like "Lock and Load" to imply "get ready". He'll say "strack" meaning somebody has a well groomed appearance. "He's a strak looking guy". He'll say "latrine" instead of bathroom. He may use the term "REMF". It's a derogatory term for somebody who's useless or a coward (it stands for Rear Echelon MF, you can guess at the MF part). He'll probably say Yes Sir to people he respects. He'll say "Un-ass" to mean get off or get out. He'll say "double time" meaning run (quick time means walk, but that wouldn't be used much).

If he smokes, he'll probably cup his hand over the cigarette so nobody can see the glow when he take a draw on it.

He'll know how to run a power floor buffer with one finger.

He'll probably be an early riser and won't be comfortable sleeping in.

He'll eat way more than you expect, and depending on how long he's been out, he might be starting to put on weight (I lived on probably close to 4000 calories a day, sometimes 6000 when on active duty. You work hard and you work out a lot -- you burn that many calories, easily).

He'll most likely line up his shirts and jackets the same way on the hangers, buttons to the left. If he wears boots, chances are, the laces will be tucked into the tops of his boots.

He'll most likely have a big chest and shoulders proportionate to his body because of all the push ups.

He'll be able to ID all types of military weapons from rifles to tanks and artillery (and probably aircraft). He'll call it an "88" or "108" howitzer instead of "cannon" like everybody else.

It's very individual. Some people shed the military bearing immediately, some carry it their entire lives. Some might have no truck with video games, others might love them, although if he has seen combat, chances are FPS games aren't going to be of interest. But most won't be able to help saying some of the phrases I mention above.

Need any more? I can probably come up with a few.

Captcha
12-22-2010, 04:27 AM
Excellent ideas, guys - thanks!

I think the female character will have a family member, or several, who served. But they would likely have been officers (she's from a well-off family, sort of a mini-Kennedy idea) while my guy was definitely enlisted.

The posture thing seems pretty universal, so I'll definitely use that, but the other ideas are great because I can keep them in mind and slip them in if the opportunity presents itself. (Which means that more suggestions would be great, too, if there are more out there).

Thanks again!

Hallen
12-22-2010, 04:34 AM
A white T-shirt under his regular shirt...again, this is not definitive because I wore white t-shirts before I was ever in the military. I would also feel this is more an officer thing than enlisted men because enlisted men wear grays or khaki t shirts more these days than white... Unless your navy...

The use of acronyms is not exclusive to the military as lots of professional people in insurance, banking, and stocks use acronyms as well. It will depend on if the acronyms are exclusive to the military.

Yeah, the T-shirt thing is personal. I never wore them before going in, and I don't wear them now. I was both enlisted and officer, but in the Army, the uniforms are pretty much the same.

Military jargon is unique. It is used a lot outside the military because we see it in some movies, and obviously people who have been in use it, so most of it's not completely alien. But REMF, Strack, and some others are pretty rare.

Oh, yeah, "freeballing" or "going commando" means that you're not wearing any underwear. It's a common practice while out in the field so as to not get crotch rot (jock itch). :D

JulieHowe
12-22-2010, 04:38 AM
Repeated use of yes ma'am and no sir.

The posture. An authoritative walk.

The way the person makes a bed.

How they keep personal hygiene items organized.

Drachen Jager
12-22-2010, 06:20 AM
> Army, 10th Mountain Division

Cool as ice even under stressful situations. The way he looks at things and people and remembers the details. A sharp knowledge of time. Never asks for directions when on the road. Carries detailed maps and a compass in his car/truck. The more combat the guy had seen the more acute his senses.

-cb

What do people think the Army does for you? People with training are probably less likely to freak out under stressful circumstances, but they're just people, training doesn't change that. The rest of that may or may not be true dependant on the person but it wouldn't really be a sign.

cbenoi1
12-22-2010, 04:17 PM
What do people think the Army does for you? People with training are probably less likely to freak out under stressful circumstances, but they're just people, training doesn't change that. The rest of that may or may not be true dependant on the person but it wouldn't really be a sign.
I described what a family member looks like when he comes back from his Nth tour of duty in Afganistan. Your mileage may vary.

-cb

jallenecs
12-22-2010, 05:11 PM
Lockstep.

They keep that rhythm to their gait for quite a while.

Agreed! My husband has been out of the Navy for fifteen years, but I refuse to go anywhere with him when his best friend (who is only five years out of the Navy) are together. Even after all that time (and completely unconsciously, according to them), they still fall into the lockstep four-miles-an-hour march, and poor crippled me can't keep up.

GeorgeK
12-22-2010, 05:26 PM
Yeah, I can be there at O Eight Hundred

RJK
12-22-2010, 08:43 PM
Yeah, I can be there at O Eight Hundred

If they're being precise, it's Zero eight hundred. 8:00 p.m. would be twenty hundred hours. Early morning, if they're goofing around, might be O dark thirty.

Orion11Bravo
12-22-2010, 10:06 PM
His speech is peppered with acronyms, his haircut is always just a little bit shorter than fashionable, he is always perfectly groomed, he wears a white t-shirt under his regular shirts, his posture is perfect, when standing relaxed he is always balanced on both feet.

He has no use for video games.

Army infantry with a year of combat and I love video games, never wear a white t-shirt under anything, and am definitely not perfectly groomed. I'm kind of picking on this post, but I feel as though half of these posts are true/false half of the time, and if your character doesn't want people to know ("He's home now, and hasn't told anyone where he was."), then I think he'll manage to stumble through civilian life without using Army acronyms, calling the head the latrine, or making his bed every morning (if he wasn't exemplary, maybe he couldn't wait to get out so he wouldn't have to do that shit anymore.) Not everyone keeps, or wants to keep, their military bearing after they get out.

When I first came back I didn't want to tell anybody anything, mostly because I was sick of hearing the same "How hot was it, did you kill anybody" or even worse, "how was it?", as if I could sum it up in a jiff. And guess what? Nobody knew unless I told them...even with perfect posture and a BCT hair cut.

I have a buddy who is a former Marine (Military Police) who was in Falluja back when Falluja was fun. Now he's a hemp-wearing, hippy loving, 130 pound vegan. The only thing that would clue someone in to his past is a 4"X6" OIF Vet bumper sticker. If you weren't in, you won't know, unless they want you to.

Vets can a lot of times sniff out other vets, and I feel like this is even more true between combat-arms types (maybe I'm biased.) It's a fraternity, we almost can't help ourselves. But there are a lot of fakers out there...I read somewhere that ten times as many people claim to be former Navy SEALS today than the total number of frogmen that passed BUDS ever.

I can usually pick out military types/former military types, and, given enough time with them, I can usually judge with some accuracy the authenticity of their claims. Visually I may get thrown by a State Trooper or NRA wannabe/fanatic, but given a few minutes I can discern just how full of shit they are (lots of liars, btw, even among people who actually went). I caught a guy at work claiming to be a former Army Ranger, and honestly, I was just trying to talk shop, but he didn't know what an MOS was and forgot the acronym IED, right in the middle of his purple heart story. He told a few other stories I had heard a dozen times from a dozen people. I call bullshit, but not to his face, because obviously it's delicate...I could be wrong.

Which brings me to my point (almost). It through me into a rage. I did a lot of digging for evidence, spent money, etc., almost obsessing over finding the truth about just how blatant a lie this was. My wife tried to get me to drop it..."What's the big idea?" she asked.

Here it is: If he was a Ranger, and he told some made up war story, then that's totally forgivable/understandable/expected. But if he was some civilian making the whole thing up, then he's pissing in the mouths of every serviceman who wrote a blank check for their lives and handed it to their country. Even a guy who wasn't that "hooah" would feel that way, I think.

MAYBE your character runs into a blow-hard like the one I ran into, and it sends him into a brooding tizzy, like it did to me.

BTW I needed his SSN to do the background check, and drew the line at stealing his mail.

bip
12-22-2010, 10:11 PM
I don't have suggestions for clues that someone was military, but here's a clue they weren't: Referring to themselves as an ex-veteran (sorry panhandler with this on your sign, no change for you!)

Orion11Bravo
12-22-2010, 10:16 PM
I don't have suggestions for clues that someone was military, but here's a clue they weren't: Referring to themselves as an ex-veteran (sorry panhandler with this on your sign, no change for you!)

This is especially true of Marines, I think. You're a former Marine until you climb to the top of a water tower and start picking off civilians...only then you're an ex-Marine.

Plot Device
12-22-2010, 11:38 PM
I was never in the military, but I have one story to share that you might find interesting.

I got hired as a nanny for a family in September of 2004. It was a HUGE house, and the "nanny's quarters" was in a room down in their fully finished basement, quite removed from the normal "family" part of the house.

I was living there for less than a week, and on my very first Saturday morning with them, at about 8:00 AM, I went upstairs into the bedroom of their 4-year old daughter, trying to reorganize her closet. I had a bunch of her clothes on the floor and I was sitting on the floor with the clothes placing them into piles. But then the husband in the family walked in with the 4-year-old in his arms, and he was wearing just a tank top tee-shirt and boxer underwear. When he saw me he was furious.

"What are you doing in here? It's Saturday!"

I laughed a slightly nervous laugh and explained I was trying to fix the little girl's closet.

He was NOT amused.

"This family needs to have their privacy! You are not to be in the family's part of the house on weekends unless asked!"

I again gave a nervous laugh and said, "Okay, let me just pick this up then," and started to grab piles of clothes.

"Just leave now!" he said.

And I froze! He was so fucking serious!!

I stood up like a catapult. And the terror I was in made me stand up SUPER straight! --like I was "at attenton." I also could not let myself look him in the eye. So, in that very stiff and straight posture I turned and left.

The wife came and apologized to me later that afternoon. And then the following week the older kids in the family asked me if I was ever in the miltary. I was puzzled at such a question. They said: "Dad said you were." As far as where he got that idea from, the Saturday morning incident was the only thing I could imagine must have led him to such an assumption.

Chase
12-22-2010, 11:51 PM
Vets can a lot of times sniff out other vets . . . . But there are a lot of fakers out there.

Ditto my experiences. I run into lots of snipers who have no idea what a mil dot or even a reticle is. A few made or witnessed the impossible through-the-scope-tube shot to take out another sniper at 932 meters (like line-of-sight and trajectory parabola are both straight lines, ha ha ha). Those are fun to question in the middle of their fantasy.

Likewise, there are more airborne soldiers running loose than the army ever put through training. I don't try to trip them up; most are really good at giving themselves away. But occasionally I'll ask what a riser or Capewell or pin cone is. Not all are lying legs. Some really did earn basic wings but have added a senior star or master-blaster wreath after discharge, though they can't exactly remember how many jumps and other qualifications each set of advanced wings require.

Still, it's a treat to find those who've really been there, done that.

Plot Device
12-23-2010, 12:12 AM
Another thing, I had several roommates (both female) in college who were in the military. One was in the Army stationed in Germany, the other was in the Air Force stationed in Iceland. They both said that whenever they go into a restaurant, they always pick the seat that is a) closest to an exit and b) allows them to sit with their back to the wall and c) allows them the greatest field of vision of the entire place including an excellent view of whoever might be entering the place after they are already seated. This habit, they expained, kept them alive. Failure to be picky about one's seat in a restaurant leaves an overseas US soldier exposed to the possibility of a driveby shooting and/or a suicide bomb attack.

This habit also transfered over into our movie theatre outings -- we always had to sit in the very back so that there was never anyone behind us.

JulieHowe
12-23-2010, 01:42 AM
Another thing, I had several roommates (both female) in college who were in the military. One was in the Army stationed in Germany, the other was in the Air Force stationed in Iceland. They both said that whenever they go into a restaurant, they always pick the seat that is a) closest to an exit and b) allows them to sit with their back to the wall and c) allows them the greatest field of vision of the entire place including an excellent view of whoever might be entering the place after they are already seated. This habit, they expained, kept them alive. Failure to be picky about one's seat in a restaurant leaves an overseas US soldier exposed to the possibility of a driveby shooting and/or a suicide bomb attack.

This habit also transfered over into our movie theatre outings -- we always had to sit in the very back so that there was never anyone behind us.

This was one detail I forgot to mention - I've also experienced this with the ex-military people I've known.

Linda Adams
12-23-2010, 05:10 AM
You can't always tell. People are always surprised when they find out I was in the military. I also know two other people who were former army, and you'd never guess it looking at them today. Granted, none of us were typical soldier material ...

But some of clues to possibly hint at military:

How they state/write time: Military uses 24 hour time.

How they write the date: Military writes date as 22 Dec 10. Also very hard habit to break. I was able to break the time habit, but this one has been tougher. If I'm filling out a form, I might do the military way on one date and do it normal on the next--and I've been out ten years.

Uses military phonetic alphabet for spelling something out. This one's different than what other resources use. And he will habitually spell out using phonetic letters (i.e. Lima Alpha Romeo Romeo Yankee), whereas someone else will probably just use the letters and and C like Cat for the easily confused ones. He may also use them at odd times, like for a 9 millimeter gun, he might say nine mike mike.

Numbers - This one would be hard to spot, and in fact, I never heard any soldier use it, but we were taught a specific prounciation to the numbers. Most were pretty standard, but nine was niner.

Men might keep hair shorter than the rest of the population. When my brother got out, I expected him to let his hair grow long, and he kept it pretty short.

Might have trouble with clothes. Men had a lot of problems with this one. When I got out, they had a class to teach people how to dress. One of the examples was an officer who went to an interview and used his AF shirt. It's a huge problem because you wear a uniform every day you work, and then probably jeans and t-shirts when you're not in uniform. We also had rules that said you couldn't mix the physical training uniform with other clothing because the guys would otherwise do that. They often showed up in it everywhere.

ETA: He might also be really shocked at how overweight civilians are. That was the single biggest thing that surprised me when I got out, because you don't see a lot of overweight people in the military--or at least not the level you would find in a standard corporate environment.

KQ800
12-29-2010, 01:00 AM
I don't know if this is a typical swedish thing or not, but it is rare for someone with more than minimal military experience to point with the indx finger. They (we) tend to use the hand with all fingers straight together like you hold your fingers when saluting.

I was told that this is because the civilian index finger gesture means "I see a gun/armed enemy in that direction", but it sounds like an afterthought to me. My personal guess is that it is a cultural thing.

Oh, and wearing a cap of some sort, the brim is ALWAYS just above the eyes. To wear it tilted back is to invite scorn and ridicule.

Tasmin21
12-29-2010, 01:43 AM
Another thing, I had several roommates (both female) in college who were in the military. One was in the Army stationed in Germany, the other was in the Air Force stationed in Iceland. They both said that whenever they go into a restaurant, they always pick the seat that is a) closest to an exit and b) allows them to sit with their back to the wall and c) allows them the greatest field of vision of the entire place including an excellent view of whoever might be entering the place after they are already seated. This habit, they expained, kept them alive. Failure to be picky about one's seat in a restaurant leaves an overseas US soldier exposed to the possibility of a driveby shooting and/or a suicide bomb attack.

This habit also transfered over into our movie theatre outings -- we always had to sit in the very back so that there was never anyone behind us.

This isn't a military exclusive. Both my hubby and I are this way, and we've never served. We've both just been in some bad places at bad times.

We take turns in restaurants. One of us get to sit with our back to the wall, the other faces the first. #1 watches #2's back, and with just our eyes we let each other know if there's someone (like the waitress) walking up behind us and on which side.

amacrae
12-29-2010, 02:01 AM
When I see a man tuck his tie into his shirt when eating it's usually a good give-away.

WriteKnight
12-29-2010, 02:01 AM
Depending on your character's experience and your plot development - I think it will be a series of small clues. Posture, occasional use of jargon, the way he writes dates, as others have said.

Any ONE of these is not indicative of military training - but together they can be very suggestive.

For my part - the tip off to me is to see a vet react to a known superior. This is the 'sir' and 'm'am' reaction. Sure - plenty of people raised in the south use the terms - but a vet will use them with a kind of precision. Not every one rates 'sir'. This is the sort of thing that might make her clue in. WHY is he so deferential to the man running the hardware store? Does he know something about him?

It could be fun to see the evidence slowly stack up - just enough to give her reason to dig.

Rowan
12-29-2010, 03:41 AM
This is especially true of Marines, I think. You're a former Marine until you climb to the top of a water tower and start picking off civilians...only then you're an ex-Marine.

You've got that right. :)

Albannach
12-30-2010, 06:43 AM
Another thing, I had several roommates (both female) in college who were in the military. One was in the Army stationed in Germany, the other was in the Air Force stationed in Iceland. They both said that whenever they go into a restaurant, they always pick the seat that is a) closest to an exit and b) allows them to sit with their back to the wall and c) allows them the greatest field of vision of the entire place including an excellent view of whoever might be entering the place after they are already seated. This habit, they expained, kept them alive. Failure to be picky about one's seat in a restaurant leaves an overseas US soldier exposed to the possibility of a driveby shooting and/or a suicide bomb attack.

This habit also transfered over into our movie theatre outings -- we always had to sit in the very back so that there was never anyone behind us.

Your friend was saved from a drive-by shooting in Iceland? *choke laugh*

Medievalist
12-30-2010, 07:32 AM
I generally spot it by body-language; especially the "parade rest" stance.

Linda Adams
12-30-2010, 04:06 PM
I generally spot it by body-language; especially the "parade rest" stance.

Not everyone does this though. It depends on the person. When I got out I was trying to eliminate military habits. Parade rest actually hurt one of my arms, so this never got to be a habit in the first place.

Wayne K
12-30-2010, 04:30 PM
I dont know if anyone mentioned tattoos yet because my eyes haven't adjusted yet. If not, that :)

KathrynLang
12-31-2010, 09:40 AM
I would have to go with the crisp, military corners on the bed, the language (including time references), and eating habits. These are probably some of the strongest indicators of long term, military experience.

blacbird
12-31-2010, 11:10 AM
His speech is peppered with acronyms, his haircut is always just a little bit shorter than fashionable, he is always perfectly groomed, he wears a white t-shirt under his regular shirts, his posture is perfect, when standing relaxed he is always balanced on both feet.

He has no se for video games.

Or he speaks with abundant cussing, has a beard and a ponytail down to his beltline, wears a bra under his overalls, and has trouble standing up straight owing to the eight beers he consumed in the past hour.

And has no use for video games.

Orion11Bravo
12-31-2010, 07:02 PM
Or he speaks with abundant cussing, has a beard and a ponytail down to his beltline, wears a bra under his overalls, and has trouble standing up straight owing to the eight beers he consumed in the past hour.

And has no use for video games.

More like the dudes I know...minus the bra.

Noah Body
01-03-2011, 05:20 PM
I have a character who spent about ten years in the US military (Army, 10th Mountain Division, I think). He's home now, and hasn't told anyone where he was.

But I want someone to figure it out, or at least to get enough clues that she starts digging around for a possible military record. So, without him telling her, what might she notice?

He wasn't exactly an exemplary soldier, I don't think. He was good at the physical part, and he's smart enough, but he's too independent to be a good team player. He was skilled enough that people generally found ways for him to be useful, but the current-day clues shouldn't be something like snapping to attention or spit-shining his boots. If there are things of that sort that any 10-year veteran, no matter how independence-minded, would have unconsciously picked up and been unable to shed (he's only been out a few months), then, okay. But otherwise, something less ceremonial would be cool.

Thanks for any suggestions.

If he's 10th Mountain, he always carries a pair of skis with him wherever he goes. :D

Greenify13
01-03-2011, 06:24 PM
My husband and I are ex-military, and were soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division as well.
He was in for six years, perhaps a little more...but we'll go with a round 6. Ways you know he was:
Still has the military cut, keeps his facial hair scare or none at all. Tattoos, manners, still shines his boots, is alert and has night terrors (my God, don't say that I mentioned this). Scars, if you were in the military for this long, or any length it is unlikely you escape without scarring. Scarring especially those due to combat.
Restlessness, unless you go into something on the civilian close, or as close as you can to the military way, there is bound to be some restlessness. Civilian life will never hold a candle, in my opinion. Bitterness towards family and/or those who have hard feelings/opinions about military, war and soldiers. Acronyms and military-speak, luckily we have each other to talk about things, we have found many blank and awkward pauses when broaching certain subjects amongst others.
The longing to go back, whether apparent or not.

With your length of time for your character being out, I would go with...tattoo, mannerisms, overall personal appearance. If he's already in another job, restlessness could work to your benefit. If he's with family, bitterness, resentment, annoyance could work. Continuance of excercise regimen, even if it's not as orderly and strict as he had become accustomed to. He will have a "new" threshold for temperatures, extreme or otherwise. If he spent his military career based out of Ft. Drum then cold will not affect him as greatly as those around him. This winter I've been walking around in t-shirts, tanks and shorts for the most part! Been out a few, but cold doesn't have the same affect on me compared to some.
If he had gone overseas, especially in recent times (hell, even if not), loud noises and sudden movements can startle him, or he'll be plainly unaffected...I've seen it go both ways, it's hard to say and depends greatly upon circumstances, both past and present.

My husband went overseas twice, never told his family when he went, after time when he finally discussed this with some key family members he is now quite bitter. His father, ex-military himself, and brother (taken by war) did and it seems still do not believe him. Since their experiences, especially his brother's experience (at the time) differed so differently from his own. This has caused such bitterness that it's hard to miss.

Even if unspoken there is nearly always an exit-strategy, traffic jams are horrible adventures, as mentioned by others written dates (guilty), you slowly work yourself out of military time (enough times being asked to clarify helps this).

I ramble. I'm done.

No....wait, I'm sorry, I'm not quite done. You should also, and if you have mentioned this I apologize again, consider what his MOS was. His MOS will greatly impact his life, no matter how long he's been out. Every MOS has it's own idiosyncrasies on top of some basic military "habits".

Also think it's worth mentioning that military, of any variety, is more then a career to a soldier/ex-soldier, it's certainly more then a lifestyle and it really holds on tight to the core of your being.

tiny
01-07-2011, 07:54 AM
If he's seen combat, he will have the thousand yard stare. They all have it. My husband calls it ocular emptiness. He's got it.



Also, the no use for video games - untrue. They use it as a way to get back to war even after they've been discharged. It feeds a need and is in many cases being used as therapy for those suffering from PTSD.