Soldier Turned Successful Businessman: “That Thing You Call ‘Hazing’ Made Me The Man I Am Today”

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When conducted properly and in the manner it was originally intended, “hazing” is more than just a group of drunken brothers yelling incoherently at a line of nervous freshman. It forces a group of strangers to work together, bonding them for life. It breaks down individual egos and builds up a cohesive unit. For an unruly 18 year-old, it is a catalyst for growth unlike any he has experienced since his nutsack squeezed a hearty dose of testosterone into his body seven years prior.

But maybe “hazing” isn’t the right word. It has such a negative connotation to it, instantly conjuring images of young men being paddled till their asses turn black and blue or being told to strip naked and grab each other by the shaft. The word has such power, that now every trial of passage bestowed upon a pledge — responsible or not — is branded as illegal, dangerous “hazing.”

While not directly related, the endless plague of fraternity “hazing” scandals — some warranted, many more not warranted — has undoubtedly effected the way the United States armed forces handles their new members. There is now a nationwide “stop hazing” revolution, and it has crept into every branch of the military. This former soldier is worried about what a lack of hazing could do to the military dynamic.

Before Jarred “J.T.” Taylor became an executive of multimedia empire Article 15 or landed a role in the film Range 15, he was just a kid who joined the army. In a piece he wrote for The Havok Journal, Taylor describes how the responsible initiation rituals he underwent were transformative, shaping him into the successful man he is today. He also examines how a common inability to distinguish his process from the frat boy hazing of Rolling Stone folklore has threatened to upend the rites of passage he holds dear.

Rituals like this have existed within our ranks and specialized units for years. The sad thing is, they are disappearing fast because of the word hazing. The problem is, hazing is grotesquely mislabeled and misunderstood by our senior leadership. Anytime the word is merely mentioned there is an immediate knee jerk reaction. It all stems from leadership afraid to lose their job from a congressional inquiry. But the real question here is what is the definition of hazing?

Hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassment, abuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into a group. Hazing is seen in many different types of social groups including gangs, sports teams, schools, military units, and fraternities and sororities.

“Harassment, abuse and humiliation.”

Is it really “hazing,” or is it effective mission preparation?
Was I hazed when I showed up to the 14th ASOS? My job description required me to be physically fit, be able to carry heavy radios in a ruck, and most importantly be able to concentrate and do my job under intense stress. It seems to me that these guys were training me and helping me in all these areas. Aside from that, lets look at this from a social standpoint. At the point of showing up to the 14th ASOS I was a three time volunteer; once for the Air Force, Once for TACP, and finally for Airborne duty.

I wanted nothing more than to be in that unit, and be a part of their prestigious heritage and history. My motivation was to become one of them, so I would have gone along with any rituals or weird crazy shit they wanted me to do. To me, it was a right of passage. Everyone before me had done it, so who am I to ‘opt out’? I always said, “The more it sucks, the better story it will make.”

My advice towards this young generation that aspires to join specialized units is to embrace the suck. No hard dude ever cried to mommy or a Congressman because the guys were too mean to him. This is your right of passage, and your time to face the gauntlet. This is when your peers push you and test you in order to know if you can be one of them. I hope as time carries on that we see more General Officers rise through the ranks who have actual ground combat time so that we can shift the military back to a, “hard, and combat focused” culture. It’s sad seeing the true military culture slowly die with leaders chipping away at tradition and “true forms” of training.

Now, military initiation rituals are on an entirely different level than fraternity rituals. Rightfully so. Fraternities prep men to handle their alcohol and not creep out women. The military preps men for combat. But the overall sentiment of Taylor’s message applies to everyone, whether they’re a new member of a fraternity, the military, or an office building. Quit bitching. Roll with the punches. “Embrace the suck.” You’ll be a better man because of it.

It’s a shame that this sentiment is on the verge of extinction.

[via The Havok Journal]

Image via YouTube

  1. JakeSC95

    Going through BCT, FO School, and Jungle school are some of the coolest things I never want to do again. I’ll be the first to admit on here I’m not a fraternity man, but if the values instilled in me through hazing in the artillery and infantry are the same instilled in fraternity men today, it’s no wonder since I’ve started going to school I’ve noticed they seem to be the last bastion of conservatism and tradition. Anything good is worth bleeding over

    8 years ago at 9:52 pm
    1. BuzzLitebeer

      I’ve always considered the US military to be the best fraternity on earth. Thank you for your service.

      8 years ago at 7:28 am
  2. ChristianPKP

    I’ve been through pledgeship and I’ve been through Basic Training. I enjoyed pledgeship in the sense I knew what was the end state; Brothers for life. Unfortunately, units I’ve served in do not all get along like a fraternity. Weed out the weak with hard training events and grueling PT sessions not ‘blood wings’ and promotion rituals. I’m not going to speak for Air Force but in the Army hazing just has no place. Soldiers have access to free legal (read end Officers’ Commands) and didn’t join to be humiliated. Pledges sign up for that ride. A junior enlisted Soldier w a GED deserves better. I’ve seen a Soldier’s spirit break and it’s painful. Respect counts for and does much more for an organization. But pledgeship was shitty awful and yet had poignant moments of glory. They are just separate conversations my friends.

    8 years ago at 10:17 pm
  3. MyLifeBeLikeOorah

    Parris Island hazing had a solid consistency of hitting and bleach…but ended with a title that lasts forever

    8 years ago at 10:45 pm
      1. TerminalLance

        You guys seriously talking about recruit training?? C’mon gents don’t act like boots, it would BEHOOVE of you to keep your daggon dickholsters shut. (See what I did there? It’s fun to talk like a Staff NCO hahahahaha

        8 years ago at 8:32 am
      2. MyLifeBeLikeOorah

        Being that the topic itself was referring to the hazing that occurs at military initial training, it’s justified. And if you’re not Max Uriarte, you don’t rate a username of ‘Terminal Lance’.

        8 years ago at 12:50 pm
      3. ChristianPKP

        I can’t hear you if your heels aren’t together – see what I did there?

        8 years ago at 3:55 pm
  4. The_Sherminator

    Yeah hazing builds a shit ton of character, but fraternity hazing does not match up with military hazing. Lap me if you want, I don’t care

    8 years ago at 11:04 pm
    1. GeebsNotGeeds

      “Now, military initiation rituals are on an entirely different level than fraternity rituals. Rightfully so.”

      8 years ago at 12:20 am
  5. Fratty_Roosevelt

    Hazing?! That there is a trigger word. If you need to find me I’ll be in my safe space.

    8 years ago at 11:13 pm
  6. Frat Turnt Titty

    Suffering builds character, and when you make the rookies suffer, you build their character. People are so afraid of any suffering at all that they can’t nut up and take on the necessary suffering we need to sculpt us into better people.

    8 years ago at 12:48 am
  7. Dancampbell

    Getting the piss hazed out of me as a boot helped me in ways I can’t even explain

    8 years ago at 9:26 pm