The Military Personality

By Lisa Philippart LPC, BCPCC, BC-TMH

Is there such a thing as a “military personality”? And if so, do the personality traits and attributes of veterans and service members differ greatly from those of the average citizen? Personality is defined as the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. Other terms for personality include disposition, temperament, or nature. It seems that military service members do share a number of mannerisms, beliefs, abilities, and perceptions.

Let’s take a look at a few:

• Confidence. Service members often have an air of self-assuredness and poise. These men and women tend to present with a purposeful and swift stride, make eye contact, and speak clearly and assertively.

• Directness. Military leaders teach service members how to communicate quickly, clearly, and without self-doubt or ambiguity. For those not familiar with this type of communication, the veteran may be viewed as abrasive or impatient. But this directness is a great way to get tasks completed and use available time efficiently.

• Honor and Integrity.
These characteristics are by no means unique to those in the military, but they take on more significance for service members than for the average citizen. These traits may greatly shape how veterans see the world, and influence actions on a daily basis, both home and in theater.

• Accountability. For the service member, excuses are not acceptable. Military members learn to shoulder authority and assume ownership of the outcome of their efforts. They take pride in their individual responsibility as well as the mission’s answerability.

• Teamwork. Veterans understand that the “secret sauce” of teamwork is sacrificing their own self-interest for the good of the mission and the team. Military members are trained to think big picture, recognizing the power of the collective over the individual.

• Leadership—Followership. From day one, each member of the military is given authority over others and is held responsible for them and the success of the objective. On the flip side, service members also learn how to follow. A leader is nothing without followers.

• Self-Discipline. Service members have the ability to control their emotions and overcome challenges for the betterment of themselves and their team. Veterans choose to pursue what they think is right despite temptations to abandon the cause.

• Loyalty. Someone who joins the military is a fundamentally loyal person. After all, veterans are so devoted to their country they are willing to give their lives to defend it.

• Realistic. Realism is the midpoint between optimism and pessimism. Realists are open to whatever hand life deals them. Military members learn to take in unfiltered information that can be measured, evaluated, and tested to determine what steps to take next.

This list of personality traits is not meant to create stereotypes, but rather to recognize the strength of character of our veterans and men and women in uniform. You may have noted that many of these traits can be learned. Maybe we should all work to adopt a “military personality”.

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