A Veteran’s Story on Veterans Day

I’m a fairly private person, I don’t tell
you much about my personal life and I like it that way. This is an education channel, not a vlogging
channel. But if you’ve been paying attention, I’ve
occasionally let slip that I am a veteran. When I was in Iraq- Well, I’m a veteran. I’m a service-connected disabled combat
veteran. Many of my fellow veterans- Issues related
to my being a veteran, for example. You probably know that I’m a veteran. Aside from having ferrets, it’s probably
the only part of my real life that I’ve incorporated into my channel persona. And boy do you guys ask about it a lot. It takes up half of every Q&A I do, and while
this isn’t a Q&A, stick around. This year happens to be a personally significant
anniversary – this is me, ten years ago, today… In Iraq. You might have to squint, those ACUs were
really effective… in the motorpool. I also recently hit 500,000 subscribers, so
I thought it might be interesting to mark this dual occasion by telling you A Veteran’s
Story on a Personally Significant Veterans Day. This video was brought to you by Skillshare. I need to get a few disclaimers out of the
way first, hooah? That’s the first and last time I will ever
say that word. Most of my videos are a fact-based story with
the occasional personal anecdote thrown in… This video is the exact opposite. A personal story, with the occasional fact. This is my story about my time in the military
and while your story may be different, that said… I’m not particularly special. Most of these ribbons are just for showing
up. I’m not exceptional, I’m not the only
person to take the path I did… and the military is huge. Each one of us only experiences a small slice
of it. Also keep in mind, I’ve been out for almost
a decade… I mean they don’t even use this uniform
anymore. So a few small things may have changed since
then. And lastly, while I don’t show or talk about
anything that I think may be potentially triggering… We all have different experiences. I can’t predict what seemingly benign photos
or topics might bring up painful memories for you. Only you can know that. So while I’m pretty sure this video is safe,
if you’re worried, maybe don’t watch it alone or have someone else watch it first. With that out of the way… I was born into the military, my dad was a
P3 pilot in the Navy during the Cold War and Desert Shield/Desert Storm and my grandpa
was an aircraft mechanic in the Navy during World War 2. I was never pressured to join myself. But I was part of the Top Gun generation,
I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else… until I had one particularly good
high school history teacher anyway. I grew up in Hawaii, which is basically one
giant military base. This is a map of all the current and past
military bases on the island, I honestly don’t know how you could live here as a civilian. Though, the other islands have much less military
presence. Because of that, every high school on the
island has a JROTC – which is an elective military class, somewhat similar to band…
there’s even uniforms and marching. I would argue that it was more popular than
football. My high school had a Navy JROTC, like it was
fate, and I devoted all four years to it. What sort of stuff do you learn in JROTC? Most of it is pretty useless, a lot of memorization… The sixth general order is to receive, obey,
and pass on to the sentry who relieves me, all orders from the commanding officer, command
duty officer, officer of the day, officer of the deck, and officers and petty officers
of the watch only, sir. …A lot of Uniform Code of Military Justice,
maritime law, and map reading. But in hindsight, it wasn’t the content
that mattered. JROTC is where I learned how to memorize things,
I learned attention to detail – this is exactly fifty pixels from the top of the screen. I learned if you do things right the first
time, so you don’t have to do them a second. You can learn these things anywhere, boy scouts,
a job, band… maybe even your parents. But JROTC is where I learned it. And I was all-in, I joined and eventually
led, every team I could. Drill teams, academic teams, marksmanship
teams, and even special operations team where we built rope bridges across streams and stuff. I spent every summer doing some sort of leadership
camp. I was very heavily involved, because like
many, my end goal was to get a military scholarship – there was no other way I was going to pay
for college. So what were my options? The US military is divided into several branches
or services that each have a different purpose. The Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force,
and the “sometimes Y” Coast Guard. The Army is the primary ground force, the
Navy the primary sea force and the second largest air force in the world, just behind
the actual Air Force. The Marines are technically part of the Navy…
and the Coast Guard… Look, if we’re honest, the Coast Guard is
more like a law enforcement agency than they are a military branch, they enforce our borders
and stop drug smugglers. They’re part of the Department of Homeland
Security, and before that, the Department of Transportation. But they can, and have, been folded into the
military on occasion. You know this famous picture of Normandy that
you’ve seen a thousand times? Coast Guard. So as far as I’m concerned, they count…
mostly. As you’ve probably picked up on, there is
some friendly inter-service rivalry… but we’re all united in making fun of the chair
force. Each one of these services has a reserve component. People who join the military part-time and
serve one weekend a month, and two weeks a year, usually in the summer. These are federal troops who can be called
to service by the President whenever necessary, like a war… or a manufactured border crisis… The Army and the Air Force also have National
Guard units – these are also reservists who serve one weekend a month, two weeks a
year, but serve both the federal and state governments. Most of the time, they fall under state control,
but they can be called to federal service. The United States military would not be able
to function without the reserves or National Guard. Before 9/11, they kind of had a negative reputation
as Weekend Warriors who weren’t as well-trained or committed, but that seems to have mostly
faded away because of Iraq and Afghanistan. But there are even more options, should you
want to join the military even less than part time. These are the civilian auxiliaries, each branch
has one, but the only two worth really mentioning are the Merchant Marines and the Civil Air
Patrol. These are civilians doing civilian jobs, that
during a time of war can be absorbed into the military to perform non-combat related
tasks like transportation. These were all of the options in front of
me. My senior year of high school, when I was
deciding all of this, was after we invaded Afghanistan, but before we invaded Iraq. I wanted to be an Intelligence Officer working
in cryptology. I was in honors and AP classes, and my test
scores were good, but I didn’t have the grades or connections to get into an academy. So an ROTC scholarship was my best option. Academies are prestigious military colleges,
like West Point or the Naval Academy, where upon graduation, you’re commissioned as
an officer in that service. ROTC or “rotsee” is the Reserve Officer’s
Training Corps – it’s just like Junior ROTC, but for college… and for real. After graduation, you’re commissioned as
an officer, but unlike the Academies, you also have the option of going into the Reserves
or National Guard as well. I applied for and got an Army ROTC scholarship. But it wasn’t a full ride, so in order to
cover room and board and other expenses, I simultaneously joined the National Guard. Which sounds weird, but in ROTC it’s actually
pretty common. It counts as time in service, so you get commissioned
with four years already under your belt, but I was more in it for the experience. In order to lead, first learn how to follow. So while I was a cadet, I never once wore
that rank, and thanks to my JROTC experience, I joined right away as a Private First Class. How do you feel today Mr. [REDACTED]? I’m feeling pretty good, pretty- ha ha ha. Sgt. [REDACTED] what’re you laughing about? He changed his diaper this morning he’s
good to go. I did well enough on my ASVAB that I could
basically pick any job I wanted. In hindsight, I wish I put more thought into
that decision. Since I was in ROTC and college, I didn’t
really care what my MOS was, since it wouldn’t matter after I graduated. So I chose the one with the shortest training
time. An MOS is a military occupational specialty,
shorthand for your job title – it’s different in every service, but in the Army, it’s
a combination of a number and letter. There are different “branches” in the
Army. Infantry, Artillery, Armor, Cavalry… they
each have a different color and number associated with it. Infantry is sky blue and 11, Artillery is
red and 13. When you see a rank with a color behind it,
that’s what that means. I joined artillery, the king of battle, infantry
is important too I guess. Why is the sky blue? Because God loves the Infantry. Yeah well, artillery runs in my veins. The letter indicates your job within that
branch, A is an officer, B is regular enlisted, M is mechanized, T is a technician, and so
on. 11B is a grunt and 11M is a grunt… but in
an APC. I chose to become a 13B Field Artillery Cannon
Crewmember, because that MOS only required me to take one semester off from school instead
of two. I was in Fort Sill, Oklahoma from the middle
of winter to the middle of summer – do not recommend. I did One Station Unit Training, which is
Basic and Advanced Individual Training back-to-back, I actually do recommend that, get it out of
the way. AIT is your job training, similar A School
or Tech School. Basic Training is not at all like this and
I doubt it ever was. Yes, there is a lot of yelling and it is very
stressful at times, but if you go into it expecting Full Metal Jacket, you are going
to be very disappointed. Every military member has a moment when they
realize “Oh wait, this is real. I’m not a kid anymore and this isn’t a
movie.” And it’s not the oath. In fact, they make you say it so many times,
I’m not sure which one was the actual legally binding one. For a lot people, it’s the uniform. But I had been wearing uniforms since I was
14, so that didn’t really do it for me – for me, it was the helmet, which is weird. It was a lot heavier than I expected. Another popular answer I’ve heard is the
M16 – while there are many like it, this one is yours. But I had also been shooting since high school,
so meh. The M16 is the nomenclature used for the military
version of the Colt Armalite AR15, with the addition of full auto or three-round burst. Everything in the military has a nomenclature. Most of them start with an M, the M16, the
M4, the M240B, but there are others – usually vehicles. The 13B MOS also makes you a crew-served weapons
specialist, I know how to take apart and put together everything from the M9 pistol to
the Mark19 automatic grenade launcher. I was also posted as the ammunitions specialist
for a while. But apparently, I don’t know anything about
guns, if my comments section is to be believed anyway. So, I finish my training, go back to college,
and I’m doing the ROTC and National Guard thing… and this is when things start to
change. I’ll admit, I had a bit of a chip on my
shoulder. I had been preparing for this my entire life,
for all intents and purposes, I had been in the military for several years at that point. Yet here I am, learning everything again,
for the third time. The first time was JROTC, it was just pretend,
the second time was the real deal, and I was the guy helping people shine their boots and
memorize their 9-line medivacs. I already knew this stuff, I was high speed. Yet here I was, marching in the freezing rain
before class because everyone else still has to learn how to do an about face. Or they still spell military with two Ls. It’s not their fault, ROTC is designed to
be your first exposure, not your third. So again, do not recommend, maybe only do
it twice. Most of my time in the National Guard was
fairly uneventful, one weekend a month, two weeks a year. I did keep up with competitive shooting though,
and was on the state team for a year or two. This is also when I bought my first video
camera, if you couldn’t tell – I’ve been doing video editing as a hobby since
high school… a hobby that finally paid off decades later. Make sure to like and subscribe. Fast forward a year or two and my National
Guard unit is activated to deploy to Iraq for the second time. I was in basic training during the first. They only took half the unit, which isn’t
uncommon, and I was in that half – right up until one week before deployment, when
ROTC intervened on my behalf. They did that for a few people and it was
actually a bit of drama. I didn’t ask them to get me out of it, I
was ready to go – mentally, emotionally, legally, I had it all set up. They thought they were doing me a favor. Suddenly, I had to reinstate everything and
somehow manage to get registered for classes for the next semester with only a few days
left. Suffice to say, I re-evaluated my life trajectory. I quit ROTC, I wasn’t contracted yet so
as long as I stayed in the National Guard I was good. Which was my plan at the time anyway. My original major was Russian, I picked that
before Arabic was suddenly in demand, the fake town we occupied in basic training still
had everything labelled in Cyrillic. But now, I wanted to be that cool history
teacher I mentioned from high school. I changed my major to Social Studies Education
and also decided to switch to a more civilian-applicable MOS – 25U, Radio Retrans Operator. Which was also a poor choice in hindsight. I know how to load a SINCGARS with my eyes
closed… if only anybody else used SINCGARS… I did get a Secret-level security clearance
out of it… Not that I ever used it. But before I could go to AIT to officially
reclass, I was folded back into my old artillery unit and deployed to Iraq. For real this time. Aight, this is [REDACTED] working, for the
first time. First time… Swear to god all this guy does over here is
sleep… and go to the gym… all the time. At this point, we had switched from the objectively
awesome BDUs to the crumpled mess that are ACUs and I had long since been promoted to
Specialist. Military ranks have several tiers to them,
we’re going to stay focused on the Army for the sake of time. You start as a Private, then Private, then
Private First Class – that one used to be second class, but nobody calls it that anymore. Then there’s Specialist, the most important
rank in the Army – E4 Mafia Represent. This is the rank most people achieve at the
end of their first enlistment, though hard chargers can make it further. It’s not uncommon to make Sergeant. I just hope you don’t get stuck in the horrible
purgatory that is Corporal – an E4 who went to NCO school but isn’t in a leadership
position. They’re basically a Sergeant that nobody
listens to. Once you have three or four people in your
downline, you become a Sergeant, the start of the next tier known as Non-Commissioned
Officers or NCOs. All the enlisted ranks from here on up are
some flavor of Sergeant, all the way up to Command Sergeant Major, the plural of which
is Command Sergeants Major – just like Attorneys General. Next you have the five Warrant officer ranks,
most of which are called Chief. These are officers by warrant, not commission,
and they only exist in a few select technical positions. They’re different from the next tier, Junior
Officers, because in order to get a commission, you need a bachelor’s degree. That’s probably one of the harder things
for civilians to understand since the ranks in videos games just flow into each other. You don’t go from Sergeant to Lieutenant
without first going through college or some equivalent – the one exception being battlefield
commissions, which are super rare. Then you have your field officers and flag
officers – your one-, two-, three-, and four-star democracy distributors. We haven’t had a five-star since 1981 and
Congress has since retired the rank. We also used to have a six-star during World
War 1. I would like to point out that while it’s
fairly common for people to say “I was an E4,” that doesn’t really make sense since
that’s a pay grade and not a rank. Though, we all know what you’re saying. I was at the end of my first enlistment and
still on-the-fence about re-upping, I’m not crazy. I’m not out of my mind. Your typical enlistment lasts six years with
a two-year inactive period, where you’re at home living your life, but the military
can call you back if they need to. So technically, you’re in for eight. Because of the deployment, I was put on Stop-Loss,
which means nobody gets to leave. As a result, I was in the Army for just over
seven years. When you’re put on stop loss or called back
from the Inactive Ready Reserve, you paid an extra 500 a month though, which helps takes
the edge off. From what I hear Stop Loss is pretty rare
these days. My unit was deployed to Southern Iraq and
Kuwait, running convoy security between the Kuwaiti border and Nasiriyah, Iraq. I was assigned as a gunner – I never once
did anything artillery or signal related in country. We’d spend one day going north, one day
going south, and then have one day off where they’d usually come up with some sort of
training or presentation to fill the time. Can’t have you relaxing or anything. Rinse and repeat that three-day cycle for
an entire year. Except for a rotation on QRF, which was mind-numbingly
boring. QRF is the Quick Reaction Force, you stay
geared up and ready to respond to any threats – which usually meant chasing away teenagers
and falconers who get too close to the wire and occasionally patrolling the vast emptiness. I only brought the camera out when route conditions
were Amber or below, so if you’re expecting any action shots, you’re going to be disappointed. Somewhere out there, the opposite of this
shot exists… I should look into finding that. However, I want you to pay attention to this,
we are driving on MSR Tampa, which is the main interstate highway running from Basra
to Baghdad. Pay attention to which direction I’m moving…
notice anything weird? How about now? Yes, they would routinely drive in the opposing
direction to go around us – just about every day there was an accident like this. This was 2009, at this point we were supposed
to share the road with locals, but traffic laws are basically non-existent in Iraq so
people did whatever they wanted. The first half of our deployment we were only
running convoys at night, but then we switched to daytime, which was far more interesting. But rather than just talk to you about what
I did, I thought it might be a little interesting to take a look inside this chest. This is my box of memories. Uniforms, awards, and souvenirs that I bought
from my many friends who assured me they were giving me a special deal. Alright, so we’re starting off kind of silly
with my ipod. I only kept it because I had it specially
engraved for the deployment. A Kuwaiti flag. An Iraqi flag… with gold fringe, I guess
that makes it part of the admiralty. Teddy bears from the two camps I used to travel
between all the time. The usual base people go to near Nasiriyah
is Tallil – I only went there once or twice. We spent most of our time at the forsaken
truck stop that was Cedar II. So one of the times I went to Tallil, I asked
the locals working at a restaurant if I could buy one of their shirts. They went in the back and gave me one for
free instead. My PT Jacket with the Physical Fitness Badge
– believe it or not, I used to score 300+ on my fitness tests. Doubt I could do that today. Soda in Iraq was made with actual sugar, not
corn syrup – so much better. Alright I guess this is my LA Beast tribute… Oh gross. Well I guess that’s a good sign isn’t
it? Still good. Iraqi soda. Okay I’m not that stupid. Okay I’m not that stupid either… This is a miniature T-Barrier – these were
twelve-foot high concrete walls that protected the camp. Camel. More camels. A whole bunch of camels – this is bone,
not ivory. I have so much camel stuff that it’s kind
of disgusting, but they were literally everywhere – aside from stray dogs and sheep, they
were the only animals we saw. Look! That’s a camel in the back of a Toyota! Okay, did I really need this many rank insignia,
we don’t even use these anymore… Some old unit patches I traded for… All this Velcro! Okay, this is a joke stop loss tab – a bunch
of us wore these in silent protest. So these coins used to be a big deal during
formal events like a dining-ins. You’d go to your table and put down your
best coin, then people at the table would try to one-up you. I see your basic training unit and raise you
a Chief of Staff of the Army. I have no idea if that’s still a tradition. This is a seatbelt cutter! Look at that, it worked! My high intensity flashlight. Which I don’t have the special batteries
for. Okay so we were supposed to keep this stuff
with us at all times – I had a special pocket set aside for it. Though nobody ever checked to see if we actually
had it. Some rules of engagement stuff, 9-line medivac
stuff… my military driver’s license… Well this is about to get morbid. This is a Blood Chit, if I was ever detained
or captured, I was supposed to give this to someone, it basically promises compensation
for my safe return. Though I have a feeling nobody would accept
this expired coupon anymore. It says unclassified on it, but I have a weird
feeling that I’m not supposed to have this anymore… I’ll get rid of this off camera. I have a ton of pictures and videos from my
deployment, most of this stuff I haven’t looked at in years. It brought back a lot of memories – some
good, some bad. But this picture in particular stood out to
me – I’m not going to say why, though it’s probably obvious. I feel very different about this picture today
than I did when it was taken ten years ago. The person in this photo was the coolest guy
in the battalion that day – people gave me high fives and told me they wished they
were me. When I look at this picture now… I’m kind of disgusted. Not because of what I did, I didn’t do anything
legally or morally wrong. But because of the change in attitude from
then to now. During my deployment my dad sent me a bunch
of books, I got a lot of reading out of the way in country. But this one in particular stuck with me. Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, is about
a naval battle in the Pacific during World War 2, I’m not big into battle history But
the thing that stuck with me was the attitude of the American sailors. In the heat of battle, with the enemy shooting
at them and explosions happening all around them, they just kept working. Not because of some extreme devotion to duty,
but because it didn’t matter what they did. They could keep doing their job or cower in
the corner, if a shell was headed their way, there was nothing they could do to stop it. When we were getting ready to deploy, they
had us train on American streets. You’d drive along and see a coke can or
garbage bag on the side of the road and you knew you were supposed to stop and call Explosive
Ordnance Disposal. If you were to do that in country, you would
never get anywhere. There is trash and dead animals literally
everywhere. If call EOD, you are announcing to your convoy
and every convoy behind you, that you want this mission to last an extra six hours. For probably no reason. Several times, we found out after the fact
that we drove by something that none of us saw. So eventually, you realize it doesn’t matter
what you do. You could be hyper vigilant or asleep, the
only reason it didn’t explode when you drove by was luck. That was the attitude of the guy in this picture
and most of the people in my unit at the time. That’s the only way you can make it through
a deployment without losing your mind – by making morbid jokes about which cars are going
to blow up. I kept that attitude for several years after
my deployment – I never expected to make it to 30. On a lighter note, you probably noticed that
my callsign was Cottonballs – no, I’m not going to explain it. But I do want to bring up that it doesn’t
work like it does in the movies. Nobody had a cool nickname. Cottonballs, Harry Potter, Wiggle. The harder you try to pick something like
Maverick or Iceman, the more likely you were going to end up with something like Puddles
or Moose. In fact, serving in the military has completely
ruined most movies for me. I was deployed when the Hurt Locker came out
– the worst military movie of all time, and yes, I’m including Windtalkers. I have no idea how this won an Oscar. Luckily another veteran already tore it apart
on the now-defunct Cracked channel, I’m not sure my blood pressure could handle that. But I can’t even watch shows like Designated
Survivor without some error completely breaking the immersion. This is a NAVY Seal, named Sergeant Sims,
aside from the super tactical US flag on his chest, there are no sergeants in the Navy. Even my beloved Battle Los Angeles isn’t
immune. Move, move to the back! Let’s go c’mon get in here, get in here. What’s your unit?! Fourtieth ID! What?! What? The 40th Infantry Division is real a National
Guard unit spread across a few western states, including California. But nobody would answer that question with
their division. This was my team in Iraq, there were three
of us, so there was always one empty seat in the truck in case something happened. Joker 3-2, aka Dragon Dog. Which sounds cool until I tell you it’s
because of the stuffed animals we had on our rhino – which is this thing sticking out
from the front of the truck. It was supposed to set off any IEDs in front
of the vehicle. I keep calling the Humvee a truck, because
that’s what everyone called it, nobody really said Humvee. Which is actually an acronym spelled like
this. Everything was a truck, this was a truck,
this was a truck, and all of these are trucks. Keep it simple stupid. A squad was made up of 3-4 teams, which included
one MRAP and occasionally a medic team. We ran convoys by squads. 3-4 Squads makes up a platoon and 3-4 platoons
make up a company. Though in artillery, we called them batteries. 3-4 Batteries made up a battalion, 3-4 battallions
makes up a brigade or regiment. Most of the army deploys by brigade or regimental
combat teams, which is about 3000-4000 soldiers. A division is made up of several brigades
or regiments and average around 20,000 people – there are larger units, like Corps and
Armies, but those are big picture, continental structures. Answering what unit you’re in with your
division is like being asked what state your from… And your answer is America. The best depiction of the modern military
I’ve ever seen is the HBO series Generation Kill. Watching this is like going back to Iraq myself. I made MRE cookies, and we used to get in
fights over jalapeno cheese. For years before my deployment, my unit was
also a mess of new and old uniforms. And the endless quest for batteries is a story
I know all too well. This flashlight doesn’t take AAs or anything
normal, it uses those special camera batteries that were mysteriously never in stock. If you want to know what it was like to deploy,
watch Generation Kill. Though I will say that the show cranks up
the racism way more than anything I’d ever experienced. I wasn’t in a particularly liberal unit
either. While American Sniper has its issues, the
depiction of his life at home, including this scene in traffic and the one with his dog
during the birthday party – were almost shot for shot recreations of what I experienced
when I got out. We got a month left and I’m eating my first
MRE. That’s your second you liar. Man, you’re right it is my second. Man, why you gotta ruin my tape? Because I was stop-lossed, I was out of the
military three months after landing in the US. Coming home was the hardest part of my deployment. The Army didn’t prepare me well enough for
the transition to civilian life. To their credit, they did try… you can lead
a horse to water. But when you’re sitting in a classroom just
a few miles from home after a year of being in the desert, you just want to go home. You aren’t listening to the talk about resources
available to you. And I went right back to college life, I had
a semester left to graduate with my first degree and a fast food job. Do not recommend. The sudden, dramatic shift from homecoming
parades and being called a hero to people looking down on me and complaining about not
getting enough olives was enough to drive me insane. I also hated all of my coworkers. Oh man, that sucks that you have to work a
nine hour shift today, what happens after that? Oh you get to go home? I slowly pulled back from all of my friends
and family, it felt like I had aged ten years, while they didn’t at all. Things got very dark and very, very lonely. There were several times I considered going
back – not because I’m a war or adrenaline junkie or anything. But because life was so much simpler over
there. I didn’t have to worry about paying bills,
or what I wore, or not texting back fast enough. I obviously didn’t go back, but sometimes
I wanted to. Eventually, I found my way to those resources
and people bent over backwards to make sure I was okay. I owe my life to the people at the VA. It took me a long time to get over that cavalier
attitude towards my own safety and actually start to care about living again. And I’m one of the lucky ones. But there are plenty of positives to talk
about as well, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t mention those. I have no student debt. Thanks to the National Guard and the GI Bill,
I earned two bachelor’s degrees for free. Well, financially free anyway. A lot of states also give veterans free hunting
and fishing licenses or car registration – there’s a lot of those little things out there that
they don’t tell you about and you have to figure out on your own. A good place to start is the VA, they usually
know about that stuff. When I got out, OIF and OEF veterans were
eligible for five years of VA healthcare, just in case anything develops. Which… A service-connected disability is the US government
acknowledging that whatever issue you’re having wouldn’t have happened if not for
the military. PTSD and missing limbs count, diabetes not
usually. If they determine that they messed you up
enough, you get a monthly disability check, and at certain level, healthcare for life. Literally everything I just said has asterisks
though. Because I’m a veteran, I automatically have
secret friends wherever I go. Doesn’t matter what service you were in
or when. If we’re in a class together and I find
out you’re a veteran, odds are, we’re instant friends. We have a shared experience despite never
meeting. We could be different religions or on complete
opposite ends of the political spectrum… And we’d still look out for each other. There were numerous times in this script where
I said something that probably went right over your head. If there was ever one of those “spot the
fake vegan” videos, but for veterans, it would be over in 30 seconds. So… who’s the blue falcon? Just the look on your face when I asked that
question tells me everything I need to know. You’re the blue falcon. Thanks to the military policy of hurry up
and wait, my patience is next level. 15 minute wait at the DMV? Please… Let me know when you’ve spent all day waiting
at the gun range because your battalion commander thought it would be more efficient to just
send all 500 people at the same time. Even though there are only 6 working lanes. Let me know when you’ve been sitting in
your truck in full battle rattle for hours, waiting for… I don’t know and nobody else does either. But you can’t leave. I’m also much better at handling acute stressful
situations. For obvious reasons. Stuff that would normally make people freeze
or panic, I seem to deal with alright. Though it was tough going there for a while. My “do it right the first time” attitude
and attention to detail have helped me in the job market. Which is more than I can say for my MOS. The military sells itself as an easy way of
getting job training, and that is true for many positions, if you want to be a pilot,
there’s no better way. Not so much the case for me. Field artillery doesn’t really translate
well and even the things I did have weren’t applicable. For example, my military driver’s license,
from earlier. I was certified on just about every wheeled
vehicle the Army had up to a five-ton, with double-trailer and hazmat endorsements. Didn’t help me in the civilian world. I could haul several tons of high explosives
and chemical weapons down the interstate, but not deliver oxygen tanks to the elderly
because I needed a CDL. I was also a certified combat lifesaver. I spent weeks learning how to administer an
IV and treat sucking chest wounds with floating ribs. But you can’t work here with a Red Cross
CPR certification. If you ask me, the military needs to get better
at giving you the civilian-equivalent qualification alongside your military training. You do learn things – but it doesn’t count
without that piece of paper. But if you’re a veteran or even active duty
service member looking for more job-training, the VA and local workforce centers have several
programs available. Or you could go to skl.sh/knowingbetter13
BOOM, Artillery! Didn’t expect that transition did you – that’s
called situational awareness. Skillshare is an online learning community
with thousands of courses taught by civilian experts in their field. I’ve been doing video editing as a hobby
for decades, but switching Adobe would have been a complete Charlie foxtrot if not for
this course in Premiere Pro. You might have noticed I’ve been working
on my lighting and color correction recently, and thankfully, he has a course on that too. You can learn this and much more with an annual
subscription costing less than $10 a month. And if you head over to skl.sh/knowingbetter13,
you can get two months of unlimited access to all of Skillshare’s courses for free. You’ll also be supporting the channel when
you do. As you might imagine, things got emotionally
heavy during the making of this video. But I want you to know I’m okay. I viewed this anniversary as a chance to reflect
and put a bow on it after so many years of bottling it up. This is a form of closure for me. Looking back, I don’t regret my service
and I’m not bitter about it, there were good times and bad times, just like any job. But it did make me who I am today. This channel wouldn’t exist without every
step and misstep which has led me to this point. And the military was a big part of that. Even though this was a more personal story,
I hope you learned a few things and maybe think about the way you interact with veterans
a differently, because now you know better. You never know man. I have a feeling, tonight is the day. Tonight is the day? Yeah. That’s why we put these in the trunk right?

Stephen Childs


  1. So many memories floode through me when I watched the video.  I've been out of the army for almost twenty years but that said so many aspects of our stories are the same.  One of the ones that struck me hard was when I outprocessed hearing the words, "No civilian countepart".  NBC referred to in my unit quite often as NoBody Cares in reality stands, or stood as it has been changed, for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical warfare.  One would think that job would cary some weight in the civilian world.  Apparently not.I appreciate the video, appreciate your time in the service, and appreciate the service of any man or woman who has served in the armed forces.  Peace time or times of unrest the sacrifices made while different are huge nontheless.  To any and all of you I'm proud to call you brothers and sisters in arms.

  2. My bro is a CW5, I knew it was a pretty big deal because you kind of have to be this rare tech expert, but in this scale its kind of hard for me to tell how it really fits in to the overall command structure. Are they basically the same as a Junior officer? Or would even a second Lieutenant be above a CW5?

    edit: And thank you very much for opening up. I like a lot of your vids and its cool to see someone who has recovered so well in to civilian life but also able to talk about things so candidly. Heres to many more years and subs!

  3. Bro. Nothing is more popular in Hawaii than football. Awesome channel. And thank you for your service.

  4. Oh yeah, I've heard about that coin thing before. I guess it's called Coin Checking and there was a whole 99 percent invisible episode about it. Would recommend.

  5. Damn. I won't say thank you for your service, but thank you for sharing, I live with a bunch of veterans and this is really enlightening

  6. Thanks for sharing your story man. 🙂 I enlisted in the USMC but was medically discharged during training. I'm also a service connected vet. It's been my biggest life disappointment that I didn't really get the opportunity to serve. I love your channel and have a lot of respect for you. Thanks for everything.

  7. Why would anyone click "Dislike" on this? I swear, some humans are just frickin' weirdos…

  8. I hate it when movies and games make Leftenants like 40 year old men with 20 years experience when in reality they are are like 22 year olds with no experience.

  9. I'm Prior Navy, and yes, the VA does save lives. It is so often harped on by people for being slow, or perhaps even flawed, but that's because it operates as a halfway point between Military and Civilian life. Nothing is smooth. But the resources are phenomenal and the price, even better.

  10. Help me I'm dumb, what does he hold up after the sprite can while say "I'm not that dumb"

  11. Thank you for this video. When you got to the end and said I'm okay it made me think and realize I am not okay. I'm going to call my VA rep now and hopefully I will improve.

  12. The fact that there is even a need for a Veterans Day is really saying something about American politics.

  13. Jesus … I know this is like my 3rd time commenting on this vid but 28:00 and forward … I can't even put into words .. as soon as he said VA I fkn lost it. I've been trying to be a more positive dude and all that but it's really just me in my room all day reading or watching stuff like this. I don't want to kill myself but it's hard to see anything besides that. I have no fam not any real friends except for the angel they call Hope and she is the one who has been by my side for years. I have some health issues and of course financial prob but she has not one time dogged on me. I hate that I can't get out of her way. She should have more and better people than me … I'm sorry I'm not trying to shit on anyone mood today…

  14. 5:06 was actually the British Navy that piloted most of those Higgins landing crafts.

    Also Jeffery Epstein didn't kill himself.

  15. Just starting my journey. I’m active duty and have another 2 months at tech school (yes, I’m in your much loved Chair Force 😂) before my first duty location. I’ve been told to except to deploy within the first year, so watching videos like this help me at least somewhere mentally prepare. Thank you for your service to the nation, and keep on making awesome content. Happy Veterans Day!

  16. 29:05 I didn't see coming. Man, I can't even imagine what you went through. Glad you're better, man.

  17. Thank you for your service. While I don't always agree with your moderate views, I love your content.

  18. God fucking dammit, his name badge is "Better." That got me😆
    Thought I should edit this comment to show a bit of appreciation to all of those who served and to say I'm glad that you are doing alright KB.

  19. I appreciate you man. Keep up the great videos and I am glad it seems you are okay being back home.

  20. Real question is, where Charms as taboo in the actual field as they were in the show?

  21. The little moments where you aren't reading from a script and your relaxed self comes through are really endearing. Thank you for your service, and thanks for giving us civilians a look into what your life was like in that time. I have some veterans in my life and I know that they had struggles coming back to civilian life… Your honest description of returning home and how hard it was helps me understand them better. I hope I can support them better now.

  22. 11M isn't a specialty anymore. In Mech units now they rotate all of the lower enlisted through the driver's hole for a year, and the ground for a year.

  23. Part of my A school was completing computer hardware and networking courses by CompTIA everything except the certifications that make it a marketable skill.

  24. I served in the USN from 2011 till 2015. About my first two years were spent in training and between training schools, because I was an Electrician's Mate Nuclear field/designation or whatever they describe it as now.
    I respect you actually having put boots on the ground in a war zone. All I ever did was perform maintenance and clean a sub that was moored to the pier in King's Bay.

  25. In the Army right now and can't wait to get out… Basic training did a ton of good for me and was my favorite part of the whole thing, by far. I didn't like when we got to AIT or my actual unit, all the challenge was gone. In my MOS we do absolutely nothing in garrison. We sit around in our rooms all day or at company. No deployment in sight, no training, nothing. I'd really rather move on with my life.

    A lot of the other soldiers love having a paycheck for doing fuck all … but I didn't join for that. I was making good money before the military and can go back to it. I came to learn and do cool shit. I wish I would've gone something combat oriented.

  26. Could someone help me understand that picture at 23:45? I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at.

  27. I seriously appriciate your service, although you chose the wrong branch ya dummy!
    I was a tin-can sailor deployed to the Persian Gulf and watching this video brought up a lot of memories. Excuse my offensive slang but we used to call the Arabic sodas Durka-Cola, Durka-Pepsi and Durka-Dew, did you ever call it that?
    Watching this video inspired me to pull out the Sea Chest and reflect back on my memories.
    Thank you for talking about your service and your struggles. I am embarrassed to say but I was in the same situation of anger and hatred of myself when I returned. When you're surrounded my military personnel you never talk about it and so I never did. I also felt that my feelings were insignificant because I was in the Navy and I wasn't on the ground. I am better than I used to be but watching this video made me feel less alone. I seriously appriciate you making this video and I hope you will be able to read this.

  28. "Once you have three or four people in your down-line, you become a sergeant" – love it. uh, [laughing face emojii]

  29. Thank you so much for getting so real at 27:30. I am so glad you were able to get the help you needed with the VA. All I can say is thank you with all my heart.

  30. This broke me, very emotional. Never knew anything about the military but I'm way more empathetic now.

    Really emotionally impactful

  31. 21:48 I’m going to assume the cartridge affixed to his helmet means he made a kill?

  32. 5:06 What I always pay attention to when I see that picture is not the gargantuan historical significance, nor the massive scale of the landings, but that strange wad of toilet paper or God knows what that is sliming around on the deployment ramp. I'm probably the only person in the world who pays attention to it.

  33. Actually, we also know that you like Christian-Cosplaying… Don't think we assumed you got that satan make-up just for a video or two: We know your kit was ready to be used on a whim! 😉😂👍

  34. Today is a good day to talk about this kind of thing. I admire you all, it's not about the war being good or bad, it's about the people who fought and died. I salute you, though as a Civ I have no right to.

  35. So, just wondering, as a veteran and a guy who knows history, did you look into I Iraqi history at all, just wondering.

  36. Thanks for your sacrifice, KB. And any other vet who happens to read this.

    I grew up in a family filled with vets, and considered enlisting myself, but realizing I'm transgender between my junior and senior year of high school kind of threw a wrench into the works.

  37. Really enjoyed this – I’m not connected to the military in any way, shape or form, but have always had huge respect for those who have served. It was evident in parts that this was an emotional tale for you to tell, but it was all the more gripping for it.

    Obviously not your usual type of content, but honestly, I’d say this is one of, if not the best content you have produced so far. Keep up the great work and here’s to the next 10 years.

  38. Excellent. I loved the callbacks.

    I've delayed signing up for SkillShare because I couldn't decide with which of my favorite YouTubers, many of whom are sponsored by SkillShare, to affiliate. Congratulations; you've earned my affiliation. Now to verify that I didn't just waste twenty whole dollars.

  39. Sorry, Mr Better, but I think your disclaimer of sorts at the beginning was incorrect. This seems to be a goatload of facts about the military, ROTC, government, military training, and other fact based stuff than it is your personal story. Don’t get me wrong here, its all interesting, but I do like the personal parts better.

  40. So much love and respect for anyone who serves our country by joining the military, regardless of the reason. Thank you to all of our troops, no matter who they are or why they're there.

  41. This is the bravest video I've seen in a long time. I can't imagine how many times he considered scrapping it during the editing process whenever he would crack.

  42. By far my favorite video of yours. The longer I watch the more.. I feel like I’m just one of your ol pals who can share a beer with.

    Except you know NOTHING… about me… kinda one sided lol

  43. You probably won't see this but you do make very nice content. Even the you don't see in 24k or something video was good. I just think the group of computer dude's was super upset.

  44. Great video I really enjoyed it and I thank you for your service I’ll be a veteran soon I ship off to basic in 2 months

  45. As a fellow human being, I love you! Blessings to you😁 thank you for the video

  46. 25:23 I am extremely disturbed. No offense, but what kind of sick freak would want to blow up a stuffed animal?

  47. 0:40 damn KB was already a man at 15. Then there’s me, a 17 year old who still plays FIFA.

  48. Thank you for your service! I`m a returned Peace Corps volunteer and my service was a disaster. I love your channel!

  49. Thanks for sharing. I can't speak from personal, experience since I was medically disqualified when I tried to join the Army, but I think it's a great thing you're doing by putting a human face and spirit behind what being a Veteran really means, and thanks for sharing you're personal story.

  50. Happy Veterans day and thank you for your service from AD Coast Guard!

    Thanks for remembering us 😂

  51. Colours in flags, badges and uniform are significant – representing Royalty, United Nations to say two…

  52. 19:08 You can see how immediately after opening he gets flashbacks of the forsaken truck stop.

  53. Besides believing in "manufacturerd border crisis", it's not. People are literally being sent over the border to become slave's. It happens and it should never ever happen to anyone ever. If you think Americans dying and becoming literally slaves I ok for any reason is ok you have serous issues.

    Inb4: what about other places. Fuck you. Not the entire world's dad, figure it out.

  54. Correction:
    Warrant Officers CW2-5 ARE Commissioned.

    This was changed about 30 years ago.

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