9 Army Things That Drive Us Crazy

Happy Birthday, Army! Here's what you do that drives us crazy.

The Army’s 240th birthday is June 14. That’s 240 years of strength, service, honor … and driving military spouses like me absolutely batty.

I love being an Army wife. I love seeing my husband in that uniform. But I think that we can all agree that no matter how much you like something, facets of it are going to drive you insane. And so, as part of this auspicious week of Army birthday celebrations I bring you …

Happy Birthday, Army! Here's what you do that drives us crazy.


9 Army Things That Drive Us Crazy

1. Those terrible pens. … and their mysterious ability to sneak into your load of laundry and then explode. Really, the manufacturer of these pens should win an award. Never before has a pen been so stealthy and so lethal. If wars could be fought just by ruining laundry, we could send these pens to the enemy and watch them immediately destroy all clothing. Victory would be swift and sure. Instead, the battle is waged on the home front. Piles of uniforms and the drum of my dryer are the casualties.

2. Uniform changes. Multicam! No multicam. Greens! No more Greens. Beret? Nope, just the patrol cap. Grey PTs! Nope, black and gold. And do these uniforms just disappear from my home after they are cast off by the Army? No, no they do not. They clutter up the closet and garage for eternity, saved by your soldier “just in case.”

3. The cost of “mandatory” unit balls. Yes, these can be fun. But what’s up with the cost?! The last time we attended one, tickets were $80 per person (plus parking … and my dress … and cash bar …) and it was made pretty clear that my solider, at least, was expected to attend. I’d much rather spend my $160 on an extremely nice dinner than on lukewarm conference food, wouldn’t you?

4. Waiting, all the waiting. In my seven years in this life my patience has grown exponentially. But I don’t think Mother Theresa had the patience it would take to never be annoyed by the waiting the Army requires. Orders? Wait. Deployment? Wait. Redeployment? Wait. But first, all the things that happen before the waiting must be done RIGHT THIS SECOND so please, hurry up and wait.

5. The infuriating CIF process. I have one Army friend whose husband was not allowed to turn in an issued item because it came home from deployment with enemy’s blood on it and was “dirty.” Yeah, guess what? When you deploy with something, surprise, it gets dirty. It drives me absolutely insane that we end up paying out of pocket for reasonably used items.

6. All the gear. All of it. In my garage lives a giant box of Army gear that has never been used — not once during training, deployment or otherwise — but must nonetheless be stored in my house until our next move at which time he will turn in the never used stuff. Then, when we get to our next duty station, he will be forced to bring home a completely new pile of things he will never, ever use. And so the world turns.

7. Somebody has to pay. If your soldier is on the more senior side of things he has probably at some point experienced the inequitable and unfair process that is the Financial Liability Investigations of Property Loss (FLPIL). That’s a long way to say something “expensive has gone missing and someone has to pay for it.” And since crap floats downstream, well, that someone is your soldier. Thus, I will never see that $4,000 again.

8. That certain stench. Ever notice that the battalion area has the same odor as a fine wine … if wine smells like dirty socks? I think they build the smell into it. Maybe that’s why Army construction costs so much. After all, building such a finely tuned odor into a construction project is not free! Not long ago I visited a brand spanking new battalion area and, yup, it still smelled like man feet. Then again, maybe they should figure out a way to bottle that odor. When we are missing our soldiers during deployment we can just whip the bottle out, take a sniff and think “yup, that smell is still nasty.”

9. All the paperwork. Really, is all this paper necessary? You’ll notice they never decrease the requirements, they just add new ones. And so to enroll my child in the Army’s child and youth program I will be doing paperwork (annually, no less) until I die.


The Army is like a crotchety old aunt. You can’t live with her and really, you don’t want to live without her.

And so happy birthday, Army! You don’t look one day over 238.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Paul Lundquisrt

    Add one more… the unpredictable all-night duty roster. Just when you and the spouse are prepared for an outing, the first in months because he/she has been gone for weeks on field training, the first sergeant calls the soldier in and says they have to stay after the unit cleans up all the weapons and vehicles and pull a 24 hour shift in the barracks looking after all the privates who clamber back into their racks drunk as skunks.

  • UH-1CDriver

    A division commander informs his brigade commanders that he will be inspecting their troops at 0800 hrs.
    The brigade commanders order their battalion commanders to be ready by 0700 hrs.
    The battalion commanders order their company commanders to be ready at 0600 hrs.
    The company commanders order their platoon leaders to be ready at 0500 hrs.
    The platoon leaders order their platoon Sgts. to have their troops ready by 0400 hrs.
    Therein lies the crux of “hurry up and wait”.

  • Erica Brent

    To the most annoying things about the army.
    Be glad you got them , I would trade you spots dear. I lost my husband 45 years ago in Vietnam. So I would be glad to store his Army gear forever if he could be here to collect it. No one says the military life is easy but I thank your husband and every other Hero in our military for all the sacrifice they make to keep our country safe. Just for a brief moment when you are sick of all the Army crap, think what it would be like if he wasn’t there any more. You then smile and not mind the things that annoy you . I promise

    • MAJ Jeff Coulter

      Thank you so much, Erica, for your service and sacrifice and for keeping things in perspective for us. May God bless you and your family.


    Um FLIPL’s can be challenged and if you get stuck with a bill I bet there is a reason YOUR Spouse got stuck with it. Your leader there did not do his/her paperwork right tro keep accountability of the property they are responsible for. Don’t complain to the army about what was your other half’s responsibility as an NCO/Officer. If s/he has their ducks in a row they CAN”T be stuck with the bill. Sorry only 8 reasons for me. And If you like filling paperwork out, it exist on the outside to. down to 7. Want your kid to play in a sport or band at a non-DOD school. Try $1000/year minimum for any sport or band, either do the fund raisers or pay up. down to 6. How about you do a piece on all the things you are thankful for instead of your complaining and help morale. So much for a mil-spouse support. I’ll send you the cracker barrel cheese for your box whine

    • Denise

      Aw for Pete’s sake. This was done in fun. Lighten up. Yours is the comment that sounds like whining!

    • jewel

      It was just a tongue-in-cheek way to let off steam in an entertaining article. Take a chill pill

  • Leon Suchorski

    LMAO. And that is why the Army is the Army, and the Marine Corps is the Marine Corps. In the Marine Corps, the Marine is responsible for their own gear, and not their wife being responsible for it. Of course I will hear from a few of the Army guys about this, but the fact that YOU are gripping about most of this stuff, says that your hubby pawns off his responsibilities on YOU.

    • steve

      griping….gripping is something totally different.

  • steve

    What’s a “mandatory unit ball?”

  • grunt_USMC

    Wow – some people have NO sense of humor! S4 NCO – she was making the same type comments that most of do – even thought we love the Marine Corps (in my case, Army in others) – enjoy the article as HUMOR.

    • MAJ Jeff Coulter

      S4 NCO is just disgruntled because he probably got stuck with being held accountable on a FLIPL. either that, or he’s just a jerk.

  • Guest

    This truism probably dates back to the Continental Army. If the Army thought you needed, or wanted you to have a spouse, they would have issued you one. Spouses are an unnecessary luxury.

    • D. Ridenhour-McHenry

      Amen to the unnecessary part. You can’t get around considering family, though. I’m a veteran, a mother of two veterans and worried my head off during their deployments. I got busy building care packages – they complained – too much, they said. I said, “TS! Share the loot!!!” Be thankful.

  • dan barrett

    Thanks for the column. It’s funny and so true. For you folks who complained, my research indicates that all five services now allow (1)wives and (2)a sense of humor. They were authorized maybe this year.

  • robert doudican

    In WWll my father lost a tug boat in combat. Because there was no “combat: in the area that day he received a statement of charges for the tug boat. Some how in all the paper work it was changed from boat tug to boat gravy. He paid the statement of charges and framed the receipt.

    • Mysticnocturne

      That is awesome Robert! I would much rather pay for a gravy boat too lol

  • ussodier3281

    lol I thought it was a great article and the use of humor and facts is great! got to admit its a great and clever way to relieve stress and still know what has to be done as for the soldier, and for the spouse who deserves credit for the enduration.

  • Jenny

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually used those pen pockets on the jacket. I just stick them in my cargo pockets but I always empty my pockets before I do laundry as does my husband so no pen-streaked clothes for us. We are both definitely looking forward to getting rid of the ACUs and current (old) Army PTs just because the newer stuff both looks way better, is more comfortable, and more effective in more locations though we’re not excited for the cost. I’ll never understand why so many spouses/family members choose to wear the grey Army PT shirt casually places though. I don’t even like wearing it for PT let alone around the house or when I go out anywhere. The material just isn’t as comfortable as civilian shirts (esp when it comes to working out). I have way too many old sets of ACUs (and ripped multicam for that matter) that I need to get around to getting rid of. Luckily neither of us have been to any mandatory balls. I’ve heard them strongly suggested and unit commanders certainly enjoy begging people to buy tickets but I’ve never felt forced into them. I think the only ones my husband or I have ever attended were the post-deployment ones that were more about drinking and relaxing than anything too formal. Ah the hurry up and wait, don’t think there is anywhere to truly always/ever escape that no matter what kind of unit you’re in. My husband and I can fit all of our gear in one walk-in closet and a couple of drawers so storing it has never been an issue. Transporting it along with all of our civilian stuff on deployments and PCS moves is a different story. Never lost anything that I would have to pay for thankfully. Maybe I’m used to it but I’ve never really smelled some consistent bad odor unless we’re just getting back from the field, deployment, or a really good sweaty work-out. I actually just went through the paperwork my husband and I have accumulated between us in the so-far 5 years each in the Army. I have a garbage bag full of junk that I made tons of copies of that needs to be shredded.

    I will say I completely cringed at part of the CIF process comment though. While I do think they go a little too far on not allowing things to be dirty (though my husband and I have both managed to get away with some of our things being less than perfect), I don’t think the “enemy’s blood” part would be the best example. Both my husband and I have had times where we’ve gotten enemy blood, fellow Soldier’s blood, even our own blood on our uniforms or gear but we don’t try to turn our stuff into CIF like that. There are appropriate ways to dispose of things that have been exposed to blood ESP if it’s enemy blood and handing it with the blood still on it to CIF is not it. I know this is a joke article but yeah, it’s the medic in me that would cringe at the idea of any Soldier shoving bloody items at people even if the blood has long since dried. There’s a difference between getting enemy blood on yourself and your gear versus other people being forced to handle it (esp those who have never had to deal with situations where you’d end up dealing with said blood). That’s why we have other ways to get rid of those items such as disposing of them in hazard bags and/or burning the items.

  • Chuck

    The thing is: The Army is 100% volunteer. The person needs to do their due diligence before they join. And marrying a warrior is also 100% volunteer. The prospective spouse should do her due diligence prior to saying “I Do”. Bottom line, these things that drive you Crazy are things you had every opportunity to know about before you got married. So, suck it up and quit complaining. You are a Warrior’s spouse and that’s that.