Military Life Compared to Civilian Life

Both military and civilian lives are regarded normal, even though they are unique and different in many ways. Military service has always been considered as difficult, demanding, and dangerous. However, return to civilian life may present considerable challenges. On the one hand, some military personnel consider civilians have unimportant jobs, which is the reason behind their bland lives. Military personnel are trained to lead and be led by the principles that are a part of their lifestyle. Besides, the conditions for survival in the military are different from civilian life. Military personnel are expected to learn to rely on each other for their survival. On the other hand, decision-making may lead to disastrous consequences as compared to other professions. Whereas civilian careers allow consultation before reaching a decision, military lack the need to undertake such an initiative. Military job is, however, more secure than a civilian one. In the civilian career, there is no job security or teamwork. While military environment requires soldiers to have a strict and disciplined life, civilians enjoy more freedoms. Thus, military life considerably differs from civilian one in terms of the workplace, competition at work, managing stress and other matters although they have particular similarities as well.


The Workplace

Military personnel are known for their valuable experience, skills, discipline, and oter personal qualities distinguishing them from civilian employees. Members of the military are used to reprimands from their instructors. Such form of communication can be quick and very often harsh. While some employers greatly value military personnel, others stress on the difference, thus expressing preconceived ideas about military personnel as a potential misfit to the civilian employment system. However, military personnel are always ready to help one another, even without request, for the sake of the mission and not personal gain.

Civilian workplace is totally different, with just a fraction of military service characteristics being present. While military leadership commands obedience, civilian managers are expected to motivate employees to action. Civilian employees expect to be heard. They tend to disregard the military notion of being instructed. Civilian employers establish the standards of excellence, thus gaining a greater influence over their workforce. A civilian work environment lack teamwork and greatly focuses on individual achievements. There is also minimal mutual support from colleagues due to the assumption that by helping workmates one may be misplaced. Therefore, if introduced to a civilian work life, military workers may feel less appreciated given their range of skills and experience.

Combating Stress

Mental health professionals consider stress, especially intense and persistent stress, in normal civilian environment to be a toxic agent that has to be minimized, otherwise it would lead to stress-induced disability. On the contrary, military personnel have an opposing view about stress. Military cultures acknowledge stress as a weapon that is used against the opponents, a slight friction that individuals can overcome on their way towards achieving victory, a challenge determining good leaders, and a test for personality. Taking an example of volunteer military forces, recruits join military service despite being aware of the potential stressors they are likely to face. However, they rely on their unique ability to sustain stressors of combat. Furthermore, going to war is one of the remarkable tests for character. Military operations are in most circumstances opposed by others because stress is one of the weapons used against the opponents. In this argument, mental health professionals consider stress to be an irritant in civilian life and to have no effect on military life.

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Similar to civilian families, military families face a lot of challenges during deployment. For both parties, anticipating challenges is significant for minimizing their emotional trauma. The military has programs meant to resolve emotional issues that accompany deployment even though they happen to be difficult to accomplish over the period before soldier's return. Establishing a support network will assist the families to cope with trauma. All these programs are supported by the employer. Similarly, through innovative approaches schools and community offer support to the military dependent before deployment, during deployment and when transitioning back home. The non-military community is always ready to show their appreciation and support to military families. However, the case is different for civilian families. Sometimes, emotional problems are a result of events from outside the workplace. Therefore, civilian employees rely on their health insurance plans to provide mental health benefits. Only enrolled employees are in a position to receive counseling services using their insurance benefits.


There is a great difference between career advancement in the military and civilian employment sector. In most cases, a service leaver may feel disadvantaged in civilian employment. In the military, career management is undertaken by people in command. Postings, course allocations, and promotion are rewarded based on regular evaluations without the involvement of the affected service personnel. Competition among peer groups is reflected in annual appraisals and evaluations. However, from a military perspective, competition is not a common occurrence. It is largely goal-orientated depending on individuals pride rather than working towards achieving a personal advantage over peers. Military life is dominated by trust and confidence among colleagues. They mutually support one another and showcase an absolute commitment to their duties.

On the contrary, civilian employment is different as promotions and job security depend on an individuals ability to meet the goals. On a similar note, individuals have to compete with their peers to achieve advancement on a daily basis. This survival of the fittest culture renders the civilian working environment more ruthless and fundamentally different from the military one. This can appear a problem to military service members intending to join the civilian workforce. They may be subjected to selling themselves out in interviews before getting the opportunity to make a successful civilian career. Service leavers need to understand this in advance in order to prepare for the necessary adjustment.

Job Recruitment, Training, and Duties

The majority of civilian jobs with above minimum wage demand a formal education, which is costly. The military, on the other hand, always recruit even high school graduates and offer training to them. The trainees also have opportunities to move up the rank after gaining experience and proving their performance. The recruits also have an opportunity to earn a degree while working under the sponsorship of military programs, such as the Montgomery G. I. Bill. Comparison of recruitment and training systems for civilian and military jobs indicates that the major difference lies in the instructional systems. Military duties are defined by grade, and training and career progression are directly related, whereas civilians' duties differ depending on the job classification and level. Supervisors may only assign specific duties for a specific position. Supervision happens to be different in the military, where members carry out their tasks regardless of the duties allocated to them. Recruiting military personnel is centrally conducted with the aim of filling the military structure, with all recruitments generally being done at the entry level. On the contrary, civilian positions are filled at any level as long as vacancies occur.


There are also similarities between civilians and soldiers lives, especially within the workplace. Both environments have ranking systems as well as retirement plans. Military personnel and civilian employees both have their seniors to whom they are answerable. Both parties have an opportunity to take healthcare insurance and worker and family coverage plans. Military personnel receive at least 15 days of paid vacation yearly, which is similar to civilian jobs. Finally, both military and civilian employees tend to comply with a particular dress code.


When comparing military and civilian lives, the major considerations are intangible aspects: transitioning to fit in the family, work-life stress, teamwork, and camaraderie, which is unique to military personnel. These aspects determine the differences between civilian and military lives. All of them present their advantages and disadvantages, whereby some are more pronounced than others. However, every individual has a different way of addressing the most important aspects of life. Many service leavers may find transitioning to civilian life difficult because of numerous differences. On the other hand, some soldiers may find it easy given the similarity of some aspects of the two lifestyles. The same case applies to individuals joining the service. Nonetheless, both lifestyles present opportunities. Not everyone appreciates military life, and the same applies to civilian life.

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