It seems every day that goes by the military appearance of our troops gets worse. I don’t just mean by the way the uniforms are worn. I mean the total appearance of each military member from head to toe. The military has changed in many ways since I myself joined the military in 1988. When I came in, you had to shine your shoes, iron your uniform with military creases, and keep everything neat and clean. Let’s face it. Our military today is a lot lazier then it was many years ago. We accept a lot less from our service members than we used to. This is why the military is now lacking in discipline and military bearing. We had many more personal responsibilities back then.
Piercings and Tattoos
The idea of personal appearance has changed more now than it ever had before. We now allow and accept a service member to have holes the size of golf balls in their ears, lips, and eyebrows. It was not too many years ago that service members had to hide ear piercings. Now not only do they not hide it, their piercings are visible from 100 meters away. The haircuts are another problem. It seems like we have gotten a lot more relaxed on haircuts over the years. What happened to high and tight or even a flat top instead of all the Justin Bieber lookalikes? Then come the tattoos that cover the whole body to the point where the person looks more like a painting then a person. This has gotten way out of control to where the tattoos are on the neck, cover the arms, and cover the legs. Once again, there was a time when you couldn’t have a tattoo that was visible. But now you see the tattoo before you see the person.
The military uniforms and the way they are worn has changed tremendously over the years. The dress uniforms are the only ones that require dry cleaning and pressing. Once again, when I first came into the military, even BDUs had to be cleaned and pressed with military creases. Yes, even the Navy with those jean dungarees had to be cleaned and pressed, and we had to keep at least one pair inspection ready. And inspections took place at least once a month. The uniforms we have today do not have to be dry cleaned, ironed, or creased. Soldiers will show up with wrinkled uniforms that look like they were ironed with a rock. There is no reason for a uniform in any branch to be wrinkled other than because of pure laziness and a lack of pride.
I must congratulate the Navy for still having boots that need to be shined! But for most, the boots today do not need to be shined, and most aren’t even black any longer. Instead, they’re tan or sage. The soldiers do not have to do much to take care of them and normally don’t do a thing to do so. They just show up with dirty, stained boots no matter the situation or level of formality.
A Return to High Military Appearance Standards
I guess our military is kinder and gentler these days. Then again, maybe that is why so many people have not wanted to join the military in the past because the thought of somebody telling them what to do and when to do it scares them. I do think we should recover some of the traditions we once had in our military, including overall military appearance. We should get rid of all the piercing holes and all the tattoos and reinstate the rule that these things can’t be visible in uniform. We should also have a regulated pair of boots that are black and shined for formations and inspections in all branches. We need to have more discipline and that starts in boot camp. We need to bring pride back into the wearing of our uniforms.