Veteran humor

Some people see that phrase, get all amped up and are ready to hear some sick, vulgar stuff. Things that will make most people’s stomach’s turn, but they roll over laughing their asses off.  Others, instead of rolling their asses, roll their eyes and think that dark humor is certainly not relegated to the military, and that it just comes off as unprofessional and childish. Many go back and forth or find themselves stuck between the two.

There is one thing that’s for certain: the military has a certain brand of humor that is necessary to cope with difficult situations. That doesn’t meant that it’s always just some dam to hold back emotions that ought to be dealt with–though that might sometimes be the case–and it doesn’t mean that every single person in the military embraces it. Still, it’s there and it seems like the worse things get, the funnier people get. For some reason, everywhere I’ve been in my life, that’s always the case. There’s nothing more unfunny than people living in relative comfort and ease.

I’ve seen humor manifest itself in the most ridiculous of times throughout my military career:

We were planning a mission and preparing to go after a Taliban commander. In the picture we had to go off of, the guy was sporting fashionable sunglasses and a casual toothpick in his mouth. “Damn man,” a squad leader said, “that dude puts the G back in Jihad…” Everyone broke out laughing.

I’ve stayed up for days in training, only to laugh at my hallucinations and shake my head at how messed up I really was.

I’ve seen a Ranger (on fentanyl) with his legs blown off ask if he can touch the mustache of the PJ who was treating him–because his mustache was epic.

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After multiple friendly KIAs on a mission, a corporal and I were hanging out just trying to keep our heads above water. “God damn. I haven’t cried that hard since the Titanic,” he said, quoting “Zombieland.”

 

Be it training, on deployment at the FOB, or even in the middle of combat, humor isn’t just an impromptu dam against emotions–it’s simply just a breath of fresh air. And if you’re neck-deep in the muck and mud of life, you have to use the muck around you to push yourself up and get your head above the sludge. That means a little dirty humor; it means a little rough edges that might not make everyone happy. Yes, it’s not exclusive to veterans, but it’s also disingenuous to say that veterans don’t or can’t have their own subculture–one which often revolves around humor.

Featured image courtesy of AP Images