Hazing and harassment are terms that, unfortunately, find relevance even in the revered halls of military academies. These esteemed institutions, known for producing disciplined and dedicated personnel, also conceal a darker side to their rigorous training methods.

A fresh-faced recruit enters a military academy with dreams of serving their nation. He prepares himself for challenging physical drills and tactical exercises. 

Yet, often unspoken are the challenges not mentioned in any official curriculum, which can result in long-lasting emotional and physical scars.

As the focus shifts to the world of military education, addressing the issues of hazing and harassment becomes imperative. Behind those sharp uniforms and proud salutes are stories. Some of resilience and others of distress. 

Highlighting these stories is essential to ensure the sanctity and honor of military academies remain intact.

The Deep-Rooted Tradition of Hazing

Soldiers at Camp Willis were hazing a recruit in 1916. (Wikimedia Commons)

To many outsiders, hazing might appear as simple initiation rites or harmless pranks. But these “rites” often take on a more sinister form. It occurs not only in the elite setting our our military academies but in almost every unit in the United States armed forces in one form or another. It can be as benign as asking a new private to fetch a box of “grid squares” for his Platoon Sergeant to outright beatings. 

While some argue that hazing builds camaraderie, discipline, and resilience, there’s a thin line between harmless tradition and dangerous abuse. Recruits often face harrowing ordeals when their superiors cross that line too frequently.

The West Point Pillow Fight Incident (2015)

Every year, first-year students at the United States Military Academy at West Point participate in a pillow fight to build camaraderie and blow off steam after a rigorous summer of training.