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Military Myths About Boot Camp

military boot camp myths

Boot Camp Myths

So, the day has finally arrived. You have left your reception site and began the long journey that is known as boot camp. There are many myths about boot camp.  You should know that boot camp is mostly a mind game. It is designed to take the civilian out of you and replace it with a top-notch military servicemember (Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or Airman).

You probably have heard the saying, thousands of young men and women have survived basic before you – just roll with it. That statement is much easier said than done. The methods used to remove the “civilian” out of you can seem to be a little brash or excessive,  however it is very much needed in order to transform an individual into a member of our nation’s Armed Forces.

As with most things in the military, there are myths about boot camp than need to be dismissed. So while you are waiting in your “cattle trucks” or other method of transport, for the arrival of your Drill Instructors (DI), Drill Sergeants (DS) or Training Instructors (TI) to retrieve and take you to your training barracks. You can put these three myths out of your mind and focus on surviving what is about to happen to you.


Basic Training Has Gotten “Soft”

Answer: False.

This is a myth that is perpetually created by everyone who has served before you. No matter what year you attended boot camp, it was always tougher for the generations before you and to some extent, that is true. However, basic training is not soft or easy, it has just continuously adapted to the type of conflict that our nation is preparing for. Basic Training focuses on elements such as first aid, water survival skills, marksmanship, tactics, and other related topics. Training also focuses on the customs, traditions and history that have made the U.S. Armed Forces respected around the world. There is nothing soft about removing the “civilian” out of a person and replacing that persona with one that is infused with military elements mentioned above.


Drill Sergeants Will Physically Harm You & Ruin Your Life

Answer: False.

This is a myth that has gotten twisted based on previous allowed behaviors in the past. Yes, decades ago, Drill Instructors (DI), Drill Sergeants (DS) or Training Instructors (TI) would put hands on the recruits to snap them back in line when the instructor felt that the recruit was not up to par with the rest of his unit. The instructors were not supposed to do this, but the behavior was allowed. This does not happen in today’s modern era. Now what the instructor can make you do, is what is known as corrective training, which usually consists of some type of physical activity that never ends. Despite a belief that is popular with recruits, the training cadre want nothing more than to send a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, or Airman to their assigned units fully trained and ready to contribute to the organization’s success. They want to get individuals out of the civilian mindset and into the team-centric, grace-under-fire mindset of a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. And that requires applied pressure and an ever-present uncertainty that at any moment, all hell could break loose, and the best way to avoid that is to count on the men and women to your left and right. Bottom line: You want to graduate. Your instructor wants you to graduate.


The Military Gives You Saltpeter To Reduce Sexual Urges

Answer: False.

This is arguably the most ridiculous of all the basic training myths. As someone who went through Army Basic training at Ft. Benning, Georgia; I can attest to the fact that there is no saltpeter of any quantity in any food or drink served at basic training.

There is also no proof potassium nitrate (saltpeter) has any effect on libido, plus or minus, so there would be nothing to be gained from such a doctoring of edibles. Yes, saltpeter has long rumored to be an anaphrodisiac, a substance that reduces sexual drive. But it is all rumor and no fact.

However, there are very loud Drill Sergeants yelling at you and pushing you, trying to get the civilian out of you from the moment you are awake till the moment you fall asleep. On top of this, there is also continuous physical activities and military classes and training that leave you exhausted by the end of the day.

Barracks life also contributes to this suppression, with the knowledge of the close proximity of many others subconsciously working to inhibit that aspect of an individual’s expression. The sexual urges may still be there; however, they are presumably buried under all of these additional factors.

If you have the courage to succeed, “Boot Camp” will help you develop into a mature, highly disciplined, and fully capable servicemember. For more boot camp tips, follow this link.



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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, and blogger. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.