Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri

Daniel M. DeWald’s compelling memoir Grey Feathers, a book on actual operations during the Vietnam War, describes the selflessness and bravery going through one of America’s bloodiest wars.

Grey Feathers: Led by Love of Country by former 1st Lieutenant Daniel M. DeWald is a motivational and compelling memoir with critical insights into combat operations rarely found anywhere else. Grey Feathers, a book on actual operations during the Vietnam War, should be on the shelves for readers interested in military life and procedure.

As part of the 4th Division of the 3rd Battalion’s 12th Infantry, each service member was awarded a grey feather, a token of their bravery against adversity. It reminded them that they all watched each other’s back and fought forcefully and honorably.

The heat of battle is a pressure cooker for everyone involved. All variables are constantly and quickly shifting, conforming to the demands of the situation. 

Although not everyone is cut out for war and the military, it is undoubtedly the grandest stage for self-improvement and growth—because, as Nietzsche said, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Knowing this, there are still plenty of profound lessons the military and its service members can teach people that they can use in civilian experience, from self-discipline to camaraderie.

There are always lessons to be found even in the unlikeliest of places.

What the Military Teaches You About Life

The military can teach people many things, but sometimes the most challenging lessons they teach are also applicable in everyday life.

The military, in essence, is a microcosm of larger society: there are goals to keep, objectives to follow and the communal sense that everyone is in it for the long run.

Here are some empowering lessons that the military teaches you:

  1. Discipline is at all levels.

Every action conducted by a soldier in the field is purposeful; sometimes, no one wants to do those actions, but they are done anyway.

That is because a competent soldier knows the value of a task.

Every soldier knows how things should be done, not because of personal preferences but for the good of the group, your comrades-in-arms, and the people you want to defend.

  • Excellence is something you can learn.

Not all geniuses are born in the womb; some are birthed in the forge. All soldiers strive toward perfection and excellence.

Excellence leads to fewer mistakes, fewer mistakes mean fewer casualties, and fewer casualties translate to better outcomes.

Excellence is knowing the worth of doing things well and knowing that it becomes a habit.

  • Confidence can mean everything.

Confidence can often lead to arrogance, but that is not a good reason to vilify confidence. In moments of high tension, a second of hesitation can lead to failure.

People find themselves in trouble when they’re sitting ducks.

When making decisions, confidence and wisdom are essential; once a course is taken, people must follow it as close as possible (barring any surprises, of course).

Why People Should Join the Military

There are a lot of convincing reasons why there should be universal military training, but this is a topic best discussed in another article; so for the people who want to join the military, here are some positive outcomes that come with joining:

  • Service cultivates leadership skills: Every service member is responsible for themselves and their fellows, meaning each has to be dependable, disciplined, and decisive.
  • Service offers education and training: Every service member is taught professional proficiencies in various skills in state-funded institutions.
  • Service allows growth and experience: Every service member is screened and appraised of their weaknesses and strengths, providing a personal framework of improvement.
  • Service provides community and friendships: Every service member is an integral part of a team and knows the importance of cooperation and deep camaraderie.