Confessions of a solider 10 years later | My experience in the Canadian military


There comes a time in life, when enough time has passed, that you can look back on certain challenging situations with a sense of detachment and humour:  “Someday you´ll be able to look back at this situation and laugh about it.”

The time has come for me to share the jocular but oddly enough ‘true story’ of how I was part of the Canadian military reserves for a brief period of time during my late teenage years while attending the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.  For those who have met me in recent years it may come as a shock for you to hear I was once a part of the military.  It doesn´t really conform well to the image of the independent backpacker type who enjoys culture, food and languages in far off corners of the world.  It´s not something I mention proudly or talk about openly nor have I included it on my resume in the last six to seven years.  I was only part of the Canadian reserves for a very brief period of time (2000 to 2001) but I did collect a rather large database of vivid memories.

Basic training was an absolute exercise in futility.  In hindsight, it´s become rather apparent what the entire purpose of its procedure and psychology was meant to accomplish.  When you can tear back the layers of propaganda and mind control you´re left with a very basic recipe.  The entire point of basic training was to instil within the lowly level soldier the very specific point that you´re nothing more than a stimulus response creature.  Your entire existence within the military chain of command is to obey orders at whatever cost.  To have even the slightest inkling of creativity, objectivity or spontaneity was ENTIRELY frowned upon and in fact punishable by a wide array of various forms of discipline.

The entire existence or essence of basic training is to prepare the soldier for the most unbearable of conditions.  Your partner has been fatally wounded in the heat of battle and your Sergeant is raging on at you to charge. The natural flight or fight instincts of an intelligent human being is to retreat and take shelter.  After-all, basic human instincts prepare you for survival in most cases;  however, in the military, the rational and obedient solider charges on without the slightest delay.  If they´ve been properly trained (also know as brainwashed) they´ve become conditioned much like a laboratory rat by stimulus/response habituating.  The punishments aren´t rational.  They´re designed to be this way.  In order to strip somebody down to the most robotic of creatures serious conditioning needs to take place.

The key factor in all of this is that in order to instil the rigid chain of command the conditioning process takes place daily, hourly, even by the minute.  Instances of impossible deadlines and inspections were more often than not the weapons of choice.  Having to make your bed to the accordance of precise measurements was a requirement of every soldier.  Tape measures would come out each morning to check how it was done.  If you were off even a mere millimetre it was cause for grave concern.  Your bed would be ripped to shreds and you´d have several minutes to have it made back to the same configurations.  The impossible deadline was not met and consequently you were marshalled to do physical punishments and gruelling exercise for an extended period of time.

The instructors would also eagerly look for imperfections while you were marching.  If your arms did not swing a certain degree or you were slightly out of cadence you might be yelled at and referred to as the following:  “A soggy shit sandwich.”  If your room was impeccably clean the instructors would hunt for things to point out that were wrong.  They´d lift up garbage cans searching for what they referred to as ´dust bunnies´ for an excuse to repeat the process of brainwashing and physical punishment.  The process was repeated EVERY single day of training.  I couldn´t believe how many fellow trainees just didn´t get it that NO MATTER how well you DID OR DIDN¨T make your bed or clean the rest of your supplies the results would be the same.  You´d get yelled at for constructive or non-constructive reasons and forced to do a series of humiliating tasks all in the process of establishing the hierarchy  (what they referred to as the chain of command) while ensuring that the soldier knew without a doubt they were nothing more than a lemming (a lowly lackey) that would perform tasks at the drop of a hat.  It was purely about conditioning and establishing the rigid SENIOR/JUNIOR relationship.

The ideal soldier is one who does not asks questions.  It´s the soldier who jumps half a second before you give the command and who does not ever think twice about what is going on.  The entire psychology of the military is to encourage group-think mentality.  As a sociology major, I´ve studied about the mentality of what goes on in a mob scene.  The underlying concept is that when social norms are stripped down you´re left with nobody willing to accept responsibility.  Thus, individuals within a mob feel far more willingly and likely to do behaviours they would not do as a single individual.  This kind of mentality is very much a part of the military.  Discouraging individuality and intelligent thought is at the forefront of most disciplinary measures.

The more passive, obedient, conforming and lemming like you become the more you´re appreciated in the military as a private.  In basic training, there is no shortage of double digit IQ goon squad instructors who are well versed in popping down sore thumbs that were sticking out.  It´s very easy for them to detect because the individuals they´re after are the ones who are questioning the absurdity of certain operations or suggesting a method of getting something done that would reduce a project from 45 minutes into a simple 15 minutes of labour.

I found myself gravitating towards these types of people.  I respected them immensely because deep down I knew they were above the conditioning that was taking place.  I felt a sense of kinship and affinity towards these types because I myself was becoming passively resistant.  I´m not naturally an aggressive type and especially during my teenage years I didn´t have the physical or mental resources at the time to go head to head with the system in a head on collision.

What I might do today would be an entirely different story! 😛  Instead, I became a dust bunny collector and a soggy shit sandwich parade-r.  I brought myself down to the lowest common denominator and tried my best to do the LEAST I possibly could.  It was my way of passively resisting.  I quickly got labelled as an underachiever and I wore my title proudly.

Once in a while I would selectively choose to excel at something such as floor hockey or physical fitness tests during our jogs.  Only the most discerning eye caught on to the cognitive dissonance taking place and it was a way of showing that I MIGHT just in fact NOT be putting in my best effort.  I did this to stick out my tongue directly at the system without actively fighting it.  I met several of those who did actively fight the system and I have immense respect for them even to this day.  I think they knew all along they would not gain any kinds of concessions or benefits from the entire ordeal.  In fact, they willingly knew they´d face harsher circumstances; however, what they did prove was that were not going to be a brainwashed lemming.

I still remember my final grade to this day.  I was placed in the lower third of the class.  Little did they realize at the time that I´d go on to finish a university degree, work overseas & travel while having numerous offers to study abroad on scholarship for a Masters degree.  I can honestly look back ten years later and count my blessings that I didn´t excel in the military and continue on in that direction.  I can´t imagine how different my life would be now had I really put in my best effort and tried to play along with the system.

I didn´t know it back then but I know it now, I´m very much a free spirit and I´m now living the life of travels and adventures that I’ve always dreamed of.

Samuel enjoying backpacking experiences in Peru

This is an article I wrote back in 2010 while backpacking in South America.  It was my 10 year anniversary of basic training at the time and at the age of 28, I reflected on my experiences in the military and how different a person I had become over the years by following a path that deviated strongly from basic training.

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says: T.H.

    I appreciated reading this article, Samuel. I was in the Canadian military as a young man, from 1989 to 1992, and your description of how it operates sounds like it could have been typed out by me.
    Additionally, I cannot think of anything substantive that I learned while there (save for becoming a good shot with a rifle — not really something that most employers look for). As a matter of fact, I recall having any ambition I had to climb the ladder destroyed by officers and certain NCOs. They thought I was too cocky, I guess. While not some kind of iconoclast, I certainly wasn’t a conformist in thought.
    Another thing that bothered me to no end was the constant references to the Queen. I had no idea, prior to signing up, that the entire Canadian Armed Forces seems to be a fanatical monarchy fan club.
    Anyhow, I did my time and got out. I’d never go back.

  2. says: diran

    Congrats on graduating with an undergraduate liberal arts degree in a subject so obscure and subjective that it’s almost impossible to fail as long as you can string together some coherent string of BS that sounds intelligent. Congrats on going to some major tourist locales are adopting the condescending traveler persona, as if somehow sleeping in hostels and posting innumerable photos of your generic exploits makes you “cultured”.

    Congrats of slagging an organization that you failed to achieve standards in due to a lack of effort and an inability to truly understand. The resistance is not a by product of free spirited, free thinking ability, but rather a jaded narcissism that leads to an inability to learn from all situations faced with. The military has shortfalls and ethical shortcomings (especially when used as a tool to push imperialist foreign policy), however by constructing an image of the average soldier as being a knuckle dragging mongoloid you crossed the line bud.

    Keep your condescending, ginger ass out of Canada, and keep thinking you’re contributing to humanity by leading a lifestyle of mindless self indulgence and cultural exploitation.


    1. Congrats on being hyper-sensitive and unable to comprehend that not every person involved in the military (or any organization for that matter) comes out of his/her subjective experience with nothing but glowing reviews and positive things to say. Congrats, on judging a stranger you’ve never met before in all areas of his life. Congrats, on being so uncultured and narrow minded to realize that many forms of sustainable eco-tourism contribute greatly to local communities around the world. Congrats, on being so insecure about your time in the service that you’re unable to form any semblance of detached objective view of it aside from all of the propaganda you wholeheartedly bought in to. Congrats, on thinking your pathetic insults would actually do anything to change my opinion about my time in the military or the opinion of others who feel the same way as I do.

  3. says: Rick Jeans

    Notice you don’t keep the comments that don’t agree with you…

    Bill Theriault There’s an insightful look into the military from someone with a wealth of experience (snicker)
    30 April at 06:00 · Unlike · 3

    John Limbert Well there are 10 past years of benefiting from this individuals non-presence. I too, am glad that he chose the path he did.
    30 April at 06:23 · Unlike · 5

    Tim Allen Holy crap. This guy certainly has a creative writing streak in him. I have to agree with Bill and John. Good thing he chose a different path in life.
    30 April at 07:16 · Unlike · 1

    Jean P. Pare Wow! What a magical pile of pseudo-philosophical manure to justify below average performance. This guy has spent his life setting very low goals for himself and has consistently failed to achieve them. Thank the military gods for sending him on a different path and saving us the pile of paperwork necessary to get rid of him. Wonder how many jobs he has left because they expected him to work?
    30 April at 08:12 · Unlike · 2

    Rick Jeans The many good men that have served this country understand discipline, loyalty, obedience, dependability, reliability, trustworthiness, duty, dedication, and commitment. Traits that this young fella obviously doesn’t understand. Let’s hope that he continues to go hiking in the mountains and doesn’t tell anyone that he is from Canada.
    30 April at 09:02 · Like · 2

    Bruce Samson I have never read such horseshit in my life. Thank god the system got rid of this loser
    30 April at 09:30 · Like · 3

    Greg Wells What he doesn’t mention is the skills he acquired. ..time apprecation…attention to detail…planning and preparation..attention to detail….THAT is what Basic is about…
    30 April at 09:33 · Like · 1

    Stan Janice Andrews He is the Type a guy the Forces does not need . Glad he got out.
    30 April at 09:55 · Like · 2

    Bruno Savard I wonder why after ten years of never speaking about his time in the reserves he felt the need to do so????
    30 April at 10:01 · Like · 3

    Jamie Forcier Wow the guy did an entire year in the reserves.. you should have made General.. get a life.. pal
    30 April at 10:24 · Like · 2

    Robert Stephen Spencer Life is a learning experience. This guy needs to get a life cause he sure isn’t learning anything from the one he currently has.
    30 April at 13:26 · Like · 2

    David Veldman This is one of the worst things I’ve ever read. Not only was he too much a POS to even succeed in the reserves, he then decides to act like an authority on the military, even going so far as to trash it.
    I’ve only been in for about 7 years and I’ve seen a lot of the world, and most of the country. I wonder how he’s financing his jet-setting.
    30 April at 15:06 · Like

    Jean P. Pare I thought it was funny until I realized that Pierre Trudeau did the same thing. He wondered around the world at his family’s expense, including side trips to chat with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, until he decided to come back. Then he was elected PM and Canada’s military has never recovered from his phylosophie.
    30 April at 15:39 · Like · 2

    Terry Collins I gave up reading after the intelligent person retreats. He would have lasted prolly 3days in reg force boot camp.
    30 April at 15:57 · Like · 3

    Kevin Latham What a tool. Spends a year in the reserves and is somehow an expert.
    30 April at 17:39 · Like · 1

    Max Rudneu Graduated in the bottom third…go figure. He is right about the breaking down, he just never made it to the building up stage, therefore never really got to understand the purpose of the training and stress, which is to weed out the weak and those not…See More
    30 April at 17:53 · Like · 3

    Gerry Hartman So he served a year in the Reserve. Big fucking deal!!
    Couldn’t hack Basic? Brainwashed lemmings? No wonder he couldn’t hack it. He just doesn’t get what the military is really all about.
    Good for all of Canada that he at least figured that part out. …See More
    Yesterday at 10:06 · Like · 2

    Neil McKenna Phonetically speaking….definitely a Delta Hotel. Likes to wander the world eh? I can recommend a few places for him to go check out. In all likelihood it’s some of those “lemmings” he writes of that he would be screaming for to come rescue him.

    1. Rick, you really ought to find better things to do with your time. Not everyone is going to come out of the military feeling as though it was a positive experience. I’m allowed to have my own opinion. This macho bullying technique you’re attempting with your friends here is just reconfirming why I made the right decision to quit when I did well over a decade ago. I’m happier now and I’ve experience success in University, teaching abroad and running an online business.

  4. says: Gerry Hartman

    You served 1 year in the Reserves, I served 10 years in the Regular Forces. We are miles apart on our opinions and I can damn well guarantee you; I’m more of an expert on anything military than you.
    I can’t believe you have the audacity to post anything related to the military when clearly you have no real world experience.
    Basic Training was designed to make you realize that while you are encouraged to think; your superiors will direct you at their will. You are part of a large team accomplishing a group task; not an individual! They broke you of your individualistic thinking to build you up as a team player.

    I graduated Basic Trg, TQ3, TQ4, TQ5 and my Combat Leadership Course in the top 5 or better. As a professional tradesman; I was anything but a “lemming”. I’m proud as hell to be a Veteran and it is STILL on MY resume 24 years later.

    I learned invaluable lessons as a soldier and I still use most of them to this day. For the sake of all involved – take down your reference to the Canadian Forces Reserve including any photos – you are not worthy.

    1. Gerry, you’re allowed to have your opinion just as much as I’m allowed to have mine. Certainly you have more experience in the military than I do and I can understand that you have fond memories; however, if you’re happy with your time in the service why do you feel as though you need to attack those who didn’t get as much out of it as you did?

      1. says: Gerry Hartman

        Samuel: don’t flatter yourself. I’m not attacking you; I’m responding to your altogether untruthful statements about the Canadian Forces. I feel entitled because you make the CF out to be a bunch of knuckle dragging idiots who blindly follow ridiculous commands obediently.

        I’m a straight-shooting, no bullshit, tell it like is person and I always have been.
        Those of us who actually completed Basic Training and then went on to trades training where we were presented with the “real” military know better.

        Not to mention, you were in the Reserve, not the Regular Force. No disrespect to anyone in the Reserve; but full time trumps part time, 24-7, 365 days a year.
        You cannot even begin to imagine what a true military career is about – you quit before it even started.
        Then you have the audacity to call those of us who excelled, lemmings. What gives you the right or even makes you think you have the right to criticize the military?

        When it comes right down to it – no one forced you. We all volunteered.

        Some people can’t cut the mustard; and you’re clearly one of them. Too bad you wasted a lot of good people’s time. Your version of passive resistance in the Regular Force would have seen you meet with some kind of accident and or a stint in Detention Barracks. There is no place in ANY military for that kind of crap and it gets dealt with swiftly and quietly in most cases.

        There is a specific reason for slogans like “Be all you can be” and “The career with a difference”. The military isn’t for everyone.
        You fall in that category and my original statement stands – you have no standing when it comes to commenting on your failed attempt. Ergo – your blog is pointless and should be taken down.

        1. Gerry,

          It all boils down this:

          You are proud of your experience in the military whereas I am not.

          The idea that my statements are untruthful are just as ridiculous as suggesting that everyone who goes to high school should write about it positively.

          Does your experience as a high school student reflect that of everyone else? Of course it doesn’t. Just because you’ve spent a longer time serving in the forces doesn’t give you a monopoly of opinion on the matter.

          Your reaction – pumping your chest and saying your’re superior and suggesting that anyone who doesn’t enjoy a career in the military equates to ‘can’t cut the mustard’ – shows how narrow minded you are.

          I can say what I want and it is freedom that I enjoy. Take your bronze age beliefs (the idea that freedom of speech shouldn’t be expressed fully) and get a life.

          1. says: Gerry Hartman

            It boils down to this – I have military experience; you have none. You are naive and ultimately, a coward.
            You had adversity thrown at you and you buckled. You’re ashamed and you justify it the only way you know how – you lash out at an organization you were never a part of.
            You were an untrained Private soldier who did not and cannot seem to understand the bigger picture.
            What exactly did you think the military was? A country club? We train for the most undesirable situation on earth, you idiot!
            War isn’t glorious, nor is it ever nice. It is gut-wrenching, ugly and ever present death and despair.
            Of course they were going to brow beat you and stress you out! You would eventually be trained to KILL people. That takes a lot of numbing of feelings and a special kind of obedience. Did you miss that part at the recruiters?

            It’s not all sunshine and roses; however, a majority of your service would have been incredibly awesome – tours of duty in kick-ass locations, decent pay, the most loyal and enduring friendships, incredible travel and endless training – most of it geared towards your professional trade. You would talk the talk and walk the walk; not bullshit people.

            You, can’t see the forest for the individual trees. You can’t figure out that Basic was the Go-No Go line and you are too weak a person to make the team!
            Here’s a news flash, sunshine – my generation didn’t hand out participation ribbons for just showing up. We were actually expected to EARN our way.

            It’s okay, you keep traveling the world with your back pack – I’ve seen quite a bit of it too. I’ve seen the democracy where you’re safe and I’ve seen…

            Oh, and that freedom you enjoy so much… That came from the blood,sweat and guts of men like me. My family has a military history I was proud to carry on.
            I’m so glad that my fellow soldiers and I served; so that you could spend 10 seconds in our world and pronounce yourself an expert.

            Your freedom of speech exists solely because of my “Bronze Age” beliefs. You will do quite well to remember that when some lunatic with a machete chases you down in a backwoods jungle somewhere.

            I did a Jungle Warfare course , did you?

          2. Gerry,

            I can at least agree with you on a few points. The eighteen year old version of myself wasn’t a good fit for the military. This post was written years ago (initially published in 2010) and republished on this site here a couple of years ago. My time spent in the military was back in 2000 and I’ve since more than moved on. I realize that not everyone (nor even the majority of people in the military) are block headed idiots. In fact, the majority are not and I met some great people during my training who I still keep in touch with today. However, my particular experience in the military was not a positive one and there are many who feel the same way that I do. The lack of accountability for the actions of superiors is something that I particularly found appalling. One of our Master Corporals jumped out of a locker – with the intention of scaring someone – and instead ended up giving an unsuspecting private in training a concussion. The result of that reckless bone-headed decision of his? Absolutely nothing. He got to yell and scream again at us an hour later for not making our beds properly. Also, I completed both Basic and my QL3 training and spent a year reporting to my base unit. In other words, I’m not an untrained private and I got to experience enough on course and on base to formulate my opinions. Just because you don’t agree with them doesn’t make them invalid. I understand the importance for nations to have a military presence and in many ways I respect those who decide to serve; however, it doesn’t take away from the awful experience I personally had.

  5. says: Kevin

    I am not sure how spending a year in the reserves qualifies you in any way to make sweeping generalizations about the military.

    I am glad you didn’t stay in. I sure wouldn’t want to depend on a self-absorbed tool such as yourself for my life.

  6. says: Rick Jeans

    You definitely did not have enough time in the military to make any kind of judgement of the system. You should not have passed your basic training at all, let along in the bottom third.

    You failed to realize that making a bed to such high standards was only a way to teach you that only “Your Best” was acceptable (it wasn’t about the bed!!)

    You went on to university. If you stayed with the military and proved yourself, you could have went on to university, on their dime, plus given experience in your field. They would have also given you some leadership training. A degree does not make you a leader, or prove your value as a member of any organization.

    Your creativity and individuality were not appreciated? They were trying to make you part of a “Team”. Everyone in a team cannot be an individual with different ideas of how something must be done…nothing would ever be accomplished.

    There are many good men that have served their country. They understand discipline, loyalty, obedience, dependability, reliability, trustworthiness, duty, dedication, and commitment. Traits that you obviously don’t understand.

    You are now 28 and still don’t realize what their goals were and still think that you know better. I wouldn’t want you in my organization. Please continue to go hiking in the mountains and please don’t tell them that you are from Canada. You are below the bottom third in my book.

    1. Rick, in a nutshell you’re suggesting I have no right to judge my experience in the military yet, you have every right to judge me considering we’ve never met before in person. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

  7. Pingback: 10 Travel Websites That Will Help You Travel Long Term And Live Adventurously | Hedonist Adventure
  8. says: Leisha

    Great memoir. I have always imagined that army training is designed to weed out those who have the mentality for armed combat and those who don’t. In so doing they can also weed out those whose skills match non-combatant service. Some people join the army for adventure (usually those who excel at basic training), and the thinkers (strategists). They don’t want strategists to be empty headed followers but they kind of need the adventurers to be exactly that.

    I imagine what they do need from the thinkers is mental toughness though. The ability to just ‘get the job done’ no matter how absurd or crappy the scenario may be. My guess is that is why they make everyone do the same training no matter what their mental capacities are.

    I’m Australian and the current head of the Australian Army has a BA and Masters, so he is quite clearly a ‘thinker’. He has been very much involved in strategic decision making over the years and has not seen much active combat (he served on a peace keeping mission in East Timor in the late 90’s). However, he has a huge amount of respect from within the ranks and he is currently committed to overhauling cultural issues within the military. His main priority area is to weed out misogyny (and any other form of bigotry) and get rid of them and to encourage female participation in the armed forces…and he’s doing an amazing job.

    I guess they call it ‘basic training’ for a reason; everyone get’s lumped in together so they can see who is good at what and what the different mentalities are among the group. I imagine they would then encourage people to ‘play to their strengths’, and that is probably where the creativity comes into it.

    I guess they figure if you can withstand basic training, you can withstand any aspect of the armed forces.

  9. says: Scott

    What an entirely misconstrued tainted view of the military you are attempting to project. I have been in the Canadian Forces for more than 8 years now, and have instructed on MANY basic courses which your writing about. Oh and I too have a University degree (B.Comm (Hons) majoring in Accounting) but that doesn’t fit well with the “double digit IQ instructor” image your perpetuating does it? I have also traveled the world and seen and done many things a “free spirit” like yourself would value. The problem is the military was simply not for you. You were clearly a terrible soldier and so now you want to shun the entire military for your poor experience. Who do you think you are with a total of 1 year in the military as an untrained private to even attempt to give an insider’s view of how the military operates? The military is not for everyone and that’s perfectly fine. However to have someone with such minuscule experience to attempt to review the military and its members in such a condescending smug manner because they simply completed a single course is just wrong. You should be ashamed for giving such a skewed vision of the military to the general public.

    1. says: k

      I absolutely agree with the article. His view is spot on. I did basic myself and promptly got my ass out of there. Is that a degree in Accounting or arguing using ambiguous statements? To the poster above you have said nothing factual only ridiculed on how he was wrong yet never explained why. Which is exactly my experience when I was in. I went in to the Army in my 30’s. I scored 100% on my all my forms for recruitment and 92 percentile on the aptitude test. I scored way higher than most Officers. One of my choices was a combat role. The Captain showed me the test results and I scored 240% higher than the requirements for the combat role.

      I was a CEO for 7 years, I have a education in computers and networking plus I’m a journeyman in a red seal trade. The recruitment centre couldn’t of stamped my accepted paperwork fast enough.

      I get to basic training and wow. Nothing like advertised. Everyone was slaves. Stress, aggressiveness and strict obedience is encouraged. Any signs of questioning or intelligent thought was strictly punished. We would sit in classroom nearly daily for up to 1 to 2 hours after the courses were done and the instructors would waste everyone time by letting people who are self admitted mentally retarded ask stupid questions instead of doing something useful like going back to your room call home and get prepared for the next day. We spent a whole hour one night standing at attention on how to lace a boot. WTF. It took me a whole 1 minute to learn that. Then we get told to use our brains and stop wasting time.

      We had one class where the civilian instructor showed a power point and also vocally confirmed at this phase in our training you will only remember 1 – 3% of the what is told here. This was due to the sleep deprivation. I know from study’s a healthy person will retain on average 20% of what is communicated.

      Intelligence and Morale was never encouraged. I been reading psychology on sleep deprivation, stress and the affects it has on the mind. Interestingly it makes you more susceptible to uphold other people values/rules if you agree with them or not and the instructors love making you sleep deprived. Then once you finally accomplish the outrageous demands of your instructors you do get that sense of pride.

      Let me paint a different picture. The abusive husband, hits his wife several times a year. She lives in constant misery. She finally sees her husband is in a good mood and she feels good, but it won’t last next day he will verbally or physically abuse her again. No one will say that is a good environment. Now back to the Military.

      I have to ask. What’s the difference between the two?

  10. Great article Sam!
    The military always advertise was something fun to do and get great experience but usually its get yelled at , get broken down and become a “robot”. It was something i really wanted to get into for a few years then realised that I wouldn’t make the cut because like you, I’m a free spirit and I have a “bad attitude”oh and I enjoy arguing.. So probably not the best type of person to head into the armed forces..

    Good on your for giving it a go!

  11. says: Jeremy

    I once considered joining the military, but I think I didn’t for the exact reasons you mentioned. Having my spirit quelled was not something I think I would have been able to deal with, and I’m glad you got the hell out of there while you could!

  12. says: Deb

    Glad you are following your dreams, the military definitely isn’t for everyone. I could never do it. I would be exactly like you and could never make it through basic training. I also would look at it as absurd. However, my sister was in the Canadian Armed Forces and now works for NATO. She learned French in the military, she was educated in the military (I remember she was always on course somewhere, learning something new) She ran for them (she was on the cross country team and travelled around the world competing for them) she was then stationed in Germany and when I visited her there, she seemed to have an amazing life. They seemed to encourage her to always try new things. She and her husband are now retired and collecting a full pension from the Armed Forces, while working for NATO overseas. It turned out very well for her.

    1. says: Samuel

      That’s great to hear the story of your sister Deb. I’m glad that there are success stories like these, and I must admit, I wasn’t part of the system long enough to receive any potential benefits.

  13. When I was younger I was always curious about what it was like in the military, but not anymore. This post reinforces that thought. The traveling lifestyle could not be anymore of a polar opposite.

  14. says: Steve

    The rules and regulations of the military do not suit everyone. If a person is forced to go into the military and eventually finds out they just can’t make the grade, they end up with a dishonorable discharge that is an embarrassment for the rest of their lives.

  15. says: Ellen Keith

    As an Edmontonian, I’ve always been curious what our military training was like. Somehow, none of this really surprises me! Thanks for the insight though; I’m sure you’re extremely happy about the choice you made in leaving!

  16. says: Ash Clark

    Interesting take Sam. The thing I find most interesting in what you described here is that I now live a life that is very similar to yours except that I pushed through basic and ended up serving in the Australian military for over 7 years (including 2 overseas deployments and probably gives reason as to why I know that the monument in the picture behind your platoon photo is Vimy Ridge 😉 ). I have absolute respect for you and what you have achieved in your life, but I think that this post has been written through the perspective of an individual. The whole purpose of basic is to strip you of yourself and to start living for others around you. Grasping that concept has completely impacted and changed every facet of my life for the better. I have made some of my closest friends from my time in the military and just as Shaun said in the comments above, once you progress through basic and remove that selfish mindset, your leadership, initiative and strengths are really nurtured and encouraged. Everything you said you hate and thought the army was setting out to destroy in you while you were at basic are the exact characteristics the military looks for in their special forces soldiers. Life is a brilliant learning curve and its without a doubt you learnt a lot about yourself during this time, if we ever meet be prepared for the JOOB jokes though! 😉 (JOOB= Just Out Of Basic)

  17. I think part of basic training is so that if/when confronted with a life or death situation, your training kicks in and you can operate on auto pilot as part of the team. At least that seems to be what most U.S. soldiers say when asked how they held out against a large force. It also seems to be true that the higher you go, the more autonomy you are given. I have to say, I’m impressed by the educational resumes of generals in the U.S. Most seem to have advanced degrees from our top universities that were earned while they were in the military. This is in no way to disparage what I’m sure was your honest perception of basic training at age 18 nor the clarity of thought when deciding that a military career was not something you were interested in pursuing.

    1. says: Samuel

      You bring up some very valid points. My perception is certainly skewed by the fact I was a teenager while in the army. I think that had I done the training in my mid to late 20’s I may have a different opinion.

  18. says: Nico

    Not the first person I’ve met who had a change of heart about the army after an early experience doing training as a teenager. My friend joined the French Army so that they would pay for him to study to be a Doctor. He didn’t last lng being an army recruit at University.

    Nico recently posted top 150 Travel Blogs Using Comment Luv

    1. says: Samuel

      Thanks Arti, a lot of people (even close friends) would be surprised to know that I was at one time in the military. I guess I rarely bring it up in conversation.

    1. says: Samuel

      Yeah, the commercials (for the military in just about any country) really sell an experience that is far from reality.

      I’m enjoying a life of travel and adventure on my own terms now. In many ways, I’m glad I was such a lousy solider…LOL

  19. says: Cheryl

    And this is why I could have never served in the military. I spent 5+ years in Navy League and Sea Cadets and I’m so glad I made the decision NOT to join the military when I finished high school and went on to college instead.

    I have a friend who served in the German military and made many of these exact same observations.

    At least you had a character building, not to mention interesting experience.

    1. says: Samuel

      Thanks Cheryl, that’s fascinating to hear about your background. It definitely was an ‘interesting’ experience and one in which has made me appreciate my current lifestyle more.

  20. says: Jarmo

    I do understand what you’re saying. Over ten years ago, I also did spent 6 months in the Finnish military, as it is mandatory in Finland. An Oh My God I hated every moment of it. Even after so long, I still do! 🙂 I still think it was the most useless 6 months I’ve ever had. Yes, you are not supposed to be creative there, you’re supposed to follow orders, no matter what how stupid, and that’s it!

    1. says: Samuel

      Hey Jarmo, I had no idea you had to serve mandatory service. I totally agree with you! I found it awfully annoying/stressful to constantly be following orders.

  21. says: Shaun

    The Canadian Military is often overlooked when it comes to how difficult the training and lifestyle is. Even for a reservist. Atleast now you know it’s not for you. I had a brief time in the reserves as well and I loved it. Not much room for it in my life anymore but I would go back in the future.

    Just remember that initially, the training and your rank determines what is required of you and that’s what the military needs a private to do. Depending on your trade and rank in the future. Your thoughts, creativity and ambition is nurtured and encouraged. I’ve seen it.

    1. says: Samuel

      That’s an interesting perspective Shaun. I think you’re right though that I didn’t stick around long enough (just did the challenging training courses) to potentially see that. In a lot of ways, when I look back in hindsight, I was really young and immature and I found things overwhelming at the time.