Hey warriors Thor here and I just want to cover some things that I see while playing airsoft that can be handled differently or avoided all together. This is a general list and may not include everything.
There are many veteran and current active military personnel who play airsoft on a regular basis. Being around Veterans can be an excellent learning experience if you are looking to join the military or are just curious about what goes on, but there are some things you shouldn’t not ask or talk about unless the Vet opens it up in the conversation themselves.
1.) Talking to Vets:
First “Did you see anyone die?” The answer is more than likely, yes. Anyone who has served in a combat zone in the last 10-13 years has probably seen plenty of dead bodies but please don’t ask about it. While Vets can get colorful and descriptive about the enemies we’ve faced and taken down we have also watched our friends, family and brothers pay the ultimate scrifice, and we don’t really want to relive that all the time; especially not when we are about to go into simulated combat, in an environment that is suppose to be fun, with kids around. It’s just not going to be good for anyone.
Second “Did you kill anyone?” This is almost as bad and in some case worse that the first item. Usually we don’t want to relive the extreme and usually deadly battles we took part in. Not only does a situation like that change a person but again we might have lost one or more of our brothers in arms and that can cause very painful memories to resurface.
Finally if you have questions about training, weapons, boot camp or specialized schools just remember to be respectful. The military is based around respect and honor so if you approach a Vet or active duty military person and are being a jerk more than likely they will either ignore you or ask you in a very obsene and colorful way to get away from them. Just be respectful and if they answer your questions show appreciation for them doing so. One other tip that goes with this one, we don’t all know everything about the military so sometimes the answer is “I don’t know” and you’ll just have to accept that.
2.) Wearing military uniforms around Vets:
First I will say that we all know that a good majority of airsoft is based around the military, so looking like a military person is a big part of that. That being said, and this is very important, if you have NEVER served in the military do not wear real military insignias (this includes military name tapes) there is no “yeah but” when it comes to this, if you did serve and didn’t earn a patch, insignia or device then DON’T wear them, if you did serve and you did earn items that you wear be prepared for other Vets (and sometimes defensive military loving civilians) to ask you if you earned them or if you were with that unit, especially if you are not known by others around you.
Second if you want to pay tribute to a unit or command or military person make or buy a patch that might resemble the original design but that is NOT the original design. You can also find tribute patches for pretty much any noteworthy service member who has passed away during or after service.
Third rank insignia pretty much the same, didn’t earn it? Then don’t wear it. There is a fine line with some Vets between being respectful and stolen valor so in most cases it’s better to be safe than sorry.
3.) Uniforms and gear:
Guess what, no one in the military ever called woodland camo M81… it just doesn’t happen. The most use nomenclatures get are when referring to weapons systems (some times), some ammunition, and maybe gas masks. If you speak to a Vet and rattle of some nomenclature more than likely he will stare at you like you’re speaking Aramaic, we just don’t use them so we don’t know them. I can’t tell you how long it took me to realize that M81 referred to my beloved woodland camies. Now I could be somewhat wrong on this one but in 9 years, 2 different service branches, 2 deployments (one with each service) and having the honor of speaking with numerous people who served in much more specialized jobs than myself rarely (close to never) have nomenclatures been used to describe items we used… the real exception being anyone who had a supply MOS (Military Occupational Specialty)
Gear, rarely do you have 100% all matching gear… unless you served in the Army, they love that shit. So when you’re building a load out and you don’t have all the same shade of tan pouches or god forbid different patterns or completely opposite colors, remember most of us made due with gear we were able to aquire or bought ourselves and usually it didn’t match. Don’t stress about being a runway model … the real guys don’t look as matching and perfect as some airsofters.
Vets and active military personnel are use to real weapons like M4s, 249 SAWs, M9s and the rest. Sometimes we forget that much of what a real weapon will do does not translate over to airsoft weapons. A perfect example of this:
A teammate, his call sign is STREAKS, and I were playing at a local airsoft park, we had the top of a hill and had to fight down it to the objective. Streaks took control of the situation and planned a charge attack, in doing so he directed the light machine guns closest to us to concentrate fire down the hill at the enemies position about 250 yards away… he order was met with blank stares. What Streaks forgot was the ballistics and range of an airsoft SAW is much different (shorter) than an actual SAW.
The point is, we think in terms of what we know and sometimes that doesn’t work so show patience with us and teach us things we don’t know like we teach you things you don’t know.
When playing with Vets ask questions that you can learn something from, gain knowledge, be respectful and let us enjoy the game with you. We want to play and want to have just as much fun as you do.
6 thoughts on “Airsoft and Veterans: Things to keep in mind when playing with military personnel.”
Youre awesome thor! I think that this was a really great idea to express these things and really helpful to some of us willing to listen amd take the advice! Thanks alot man! Im careful about what patches I choose to wear and things like that specifically for these reasons youve listed here. I think the kids and adults that enjoy the sport should really be more aware on the importance and reasoning for these sort of things because it is a big deal and setimes very disrespectful and offensive. Even for some of the military enthusias civies that play like my self.
Thank you I appreciate you stopping by and taking part in the discussion! I hope to keep awesome content coming for all you guys and together we can make this sport positive and outstanding for all involved!
Questuon. Looking for a bugout bag and a weekend Assault pack that has a cushioned compartment for a laptop. What can you recommend. Also who do you recommend for getting outfitted I’d love to join the hobby?
I read your comment about patch insignias and I think that it is unfair for Veterans to take task with a representation of their unit in a hobby or historical reenactment and while your right some would take offense not all especially if it’s being done for Airsoft or historical reenacting. Which I consider Airsoft to be. Now if you were to show up in a dress uniform wearing the medal of honor and medals I’d say that constitutes as stolen Valor which is a crime. But someone wearing a Seal Patch or USMC recon Patch is not meant to be and insult nor considered stolen valor.
I agree somewhat with what you say. Yes military reenactments do follow exact replication of historical battles which include dressing exactly as the people would have in the past, patches, unit insignia and all. This is where our thoughts differ, I don’t see airsoft as military reenactment but only as what it is simulation. I said in the article that there are plenty of companies that make patches that honor units and specific people that are not exactly like patches or insignia that the actual military use/wear. Now again I also said and encourage players and teams to come up with patches that look similar to actual military patches that can pay tribute to those units or people without wearing the actual patches. In the end I have my views on it which are pretty relaxed but I know there are other veterans out there who take it much more seriously. I do appreciate your input and you joining the discussion, and I wish you the best in everything you do! Thank you for stopping by the page and getting involved!
I completely understand, but some patches and insignias are harder to earn than awards and medals so some people will take offense to that. I’m just trying to balance out what I see all the time. Compromise isn’t always a bad thing.