Is there such a thing as a "military personality?" And if so, do the personality traits and characteristics of service members differ greatly from the average citizen?

Barring the high and tight, cammo backpack and forearm "tat," can Mr. and Mrs. Civilian spot a service member at the airport, in the mall or at a ballgame? Probably so.

I don't believe there is a "military personality" per se. But service members do share a number of mannerisms, beliefs, traits and perceptions.

Confidence, for example - service members have an air of self-assuredness, poise and downright coolness. A purposeful and swift stride, eye contact with strangers and a head held high with a

slight controlled swivel is a dead giveaway that a confident soldier, sailor, airmen or Marine is in the area.

Service members share a strong sense of pride, honor and integrity. These characteristics are by no means unique to those in the military, but they take on more significance for service members than for the average citizen. These traits greatly shape how the service member sees the world and influence his actions on a daily basis, both at home and on the battlefield.

Another shared trait of service members is directness. During the first days of recruit training, military leaders teach the new troop how to communicate quickly, clearly and without any hint of self-doubt or ambiguity.

For those not familiar with this type of communication, the service member may be viewed as abrasive, impatient or even rude. For those in the know, it's a great way to get tasks completed and use available time efficiently.

In today's society, individualism is the standard, and working for the betterment of the group is the relative exception. This is the complete opposite of what's found in the military.

Putting the group before the person is an important aspect of military culture. Many civilians have difficulty understanding this level of personal sacrifice, embraced through all ranks and branches of the military.

We're all different. Stereotypes are often incorrect and individual differences are what make us unique. Embracing similarities and differences is crucial in defining who we are as husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and service members.

Copyright Bret Moore. For more, see "Military Times." 

About the Author

Bret A. Moore, Psy.D., ABPP

Bret A. Moore, Psy.D., ABPP, is a board-certified clinical psychologist, prescribing psychologist, and the author of 13 books.

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