Military Dangers They Skip In The Enlistment Brochure
When enlisting in the military, you expect that your life is going to get a bit riskier -- whether that comes in the form of bullets, bombs, or the food. However, there are some dangers that they skip in the brochure. Not because of the clear mortal danger, but simply because they're so damn stupid ...
You Could Destroy Your Career By Taking An At-Home DNA Test
In ye olden days, if people wanted to know about their family tree they'd have to sift through whatever bullshit older relatives told them to get somewhere halfway to the truth ("No, Aunt Carol, we're pretty sure Grandpa didn't name his butcher shop 'The Sausage King' because he had some English royal blood from his mom's side."). Nowadays, it's all about at-home DNA tests, like those offered by 23andMe, Ancestry, and MyHeritage.
We've written about these tests and the myriad of problems with them, but the worst thing that's usually going to happen to somebody taking one is having a very awkward conversation with their loved ones ("Aunt Carol, Grandpa's mom's side descended from German cannibals that made human sausages."). That is, unless they're in the military -- in which case, taking an at-home test could easily blow up their entire career.
Some tests don't just tell people where they're from, they also tell them what medical conditions they have genetic markers for -- as well as the chance of those medical conditions becoming an issue in the future. This is a problem for service members because if the military learns about these results, and finds something they don't like, they'll be booted out the door so faster than someone trying to collect VA benefits.
On civvy street, this would be illegal under GINA -- the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act -- which prevents employers and insurers discriminating against people on the basis of their genetics. However, GINA doesn't apply to the military because it's necessary that they don't employ soldiers whose genetics contain timebombs that could explode at the worst possible time. Because If you were pinned down by a machine gun nest and your sniper buddy's genetic predisposition for glaucoma chose that specific moment to kick in, you'd be totally hosed.
You Could Wind Up in Dangerous, Dilapidated On-Base Housing
If you're in the military and have a family, chances are you'll be living in on-base housing at some point -- which the more perceptive of you may have already sussed out is housing on a base. These digs aren't provided by the military though, they're done by private companies, who build, manage, and maintain them.
On paper, this arrangement makes them landlords to (roughly) a third of all military personnel -- which is great because, as we all know, landlords are kind, generous, and renowned for keeping their properties up to code regardless of how much it eats into their bottom line ... Oh ... wait.
In September 2019, the Army Inspector General released a damning report of on-base housing conditions. One of the report's key findings was that, of the surveyed residents, a whopping two-thirds not only expressed concerns about the health and safety of their properties. They also said that they would happily move off-base if they could do so without suffering any resulting financial hardship.
What kind of health and safety issues are we talking about here? The better question is, what health and safety issues AREN'T we talking about? They range from leaky ceilings and woodworm-infested floorboards, to water quality issues and floods of raw sewage, to faulty wiring and recurrent gas leaks -- and this doesn't even cover the BIG fucking problems with lead paint, mold, and asbestos.
The AIG also found that when on-base residents complained about their properties some housing providers responded by being petty assholes -- hitting them with bullshit fines for things like poor yard maintenance, as well as excessive fees and deductions when the tenant moved out. One housing provider was even called out by a Congressman after tenants in his constituency complained about vengeful housing company workers engaging in "drive-by harassment" and denying them requested repairs.
It looks like things are going to change in the wake of this report, though. In its aftermath, the five biggest on-base housing providers Voltron'ed together to form a coalition aimed at, um, lobbying the government to ignore the report and block any military housing reform proposals that come their way -- something that isn't likely to be difficult considering that Trump had already shown he doesn't give a damn about reforming on-base facilities.
Military Doctors Will Likely Ignore Your Medical Problems If You're a Woman
Joining the military and expecting not to get hurt is like joining a flamethrower enthusiasts club and expecting not to get pinkeye (They never clean those things.). It's an unavoidable part of the job, but as long as there's a medic nearby, you'll get help ...
If you're a man.
As journalists, Ema O'Connor and Vera Bergengruen revealed, in an expose for Buzzfeed News, female service members who suffer medical mishaps while on-duty frequently have their pains and injuries handwaved away by military doctors as nothing more than "female problems." When this happens, the condition usually winds up getting worse, to the point that the women quit the military -- then visit a civilian doctor, that diagnoses (and treats!) their condition with no fuss.
In one case identified by O'Connor and Bergengruen, USAF Capt. Rebecca Lipe began suffering from multiple sports herniations as a result of wearing ill-fitting body armor. However, when she complained to medics about the pain she was in, they instead diagnosed her with a bad case of being a ho. In their medical opinion, she'd caught an STD from having an affair (she didn't) and so told her to suck it up and deal with the consequences of having gotten her hand caught in the sausage jar.
It was only after Lipe lost the ability to walk that medics started taking her seriously ... j/k! Instead, they diagnosed her as having everything from a heavy period to cramps to a pelvic infection and eventually settled on her just being flat-out crazy. It wasn't until Lipe returned home almost two years later that her condition was identified and fixed by a normal doctor, inside of two one-hour surgeries no less -- roughly the same amount of time her military doctors spent making jokes about periods.
The reality is that many female service members feel like they're under pressure not to either be seen by their commanders as "problem soldiers,' or justifying the still prevalent false belief that women have no place in the military. Complaining about medical problems is to "prove their thinking that women shouldn't serve in certain capacities," says retired first sergeant Catherine Harris. "So you think, OK, I'm gonna keep quiet so I don't ruin someone else's chances of doing this."
Things are gradually getting better, not because the military is becoming more woke to women's issues, but because women are now occupying senior leadership roles in both the government and military. Or, as Lipe puts it: "I laugh when says they take care of women in the military. No, women in the military take care of other women in the military."
Your Identity Could Be Stolen By a Facebook Scammer
Here's the set-up: You're idly browsing Facebook (for some reason) when out of the blue, you receive a message from a soldier serving overseas -- who despite the whole 'war' thing, wants to flirt. He's hot, you're single, and soon you're swapping photos of your genitals like there's no tomorrow. Then, one random day, he asks you to wire him some money. Confident that you're looking at the only man on the internet who isn't a sentient pile of garbage, you trust him and send over the amount he needs ... and he ghosts you forever.
Congratulations! You just fell victim to the "romance scam" -- an unimaginatively-named scam where someone masquerading as a service member feigns a romantic relationship with an innocent mark in order to defraud them out of countless thousands of dollars. In the last couple of years, they've become a major problem not just for social networks, but for the service members who have their identities stolen.
See the fraudsters aren't fashioning identities from scratch, they're stealing them from real soldiers -- an act of shitbaggery helped by the fact that many soldiers will upload countless photos and videos of themselves while on active duty to keep their friends and family back home up-to-date. After uploading this trove of information to a new profile, these scammers then have the perfect disguise to use ... as well as the perfect fall guy in the real soldier who wakes up one morning to an inbox full of angry messages from a scorned 'lover' they've never met.
"Couldn't they just ask Facebook to take down the profiles?" Well, the thing with that is A) that requires knowing you've been cloned and B) there are sometimes dozens of profiles mimicking a single soldier. So if you somehow manage to squash one, three more will take their place like a catfishing hydra. Until Facebook gets it shit together, if you're a soldier with a profile, we'd recommend locking that shit down tight. Unless you're in the mood to find your face plastered over the local news for defrauding an entire retirement home of horny war widows out of their savings.
Top image: Bumble Dee/Shutterstock