What is it about being a Veteran and growing a beard? Maybe because while you were in the Military you always had to be at the right place, at the right time, in the right uniform. As far as uniforms were concerned, you were required to have your hair neatly trimmed, your uniform was required to be pressed, buttons fashioned, and your face cleanly shaven. However, what if the link between being a Veteran and Growing a beard was more than that?
Why Do Veterans Grow a Beard?
Simply put, because they can! So many regulations while serving prevented you from doing so. No Handlebar mustaches, no long sideburns, and especially, no hair on your chin. I remember every morning, shaving my face at o’ dark 30 just to race off to that 6 o’clock formation. All those years of enforced shaving can take a toll on you. You spend however long in your life, while in the military, being told what to do and when to do it. Now I am not saying there isn’t a purpose behind it. To me, it was a manner of discipline. However, now that you are out, maybe it is time to let everything go. That is what I did.
I remember like it was yesterday. It was September 1st, 2015. My DD-214 in hand (Discharge Paperwork). I took that uniform off for the last time. I folded it neatly on the bed, I stopped, paused, and studied it for a minute. Realizing, this would be the last time I ever dawned that uniform. Now it hangs on my wall, as a reminder, that I served my Country with honor and distinction. It was at that moment, I decided I would no longer cut my hair and shave my face to maintain a military standard. It was my way of rebelling. I was free. No longer oppressed to maintain rigorous standard, I would rebel from the standards of being in the military.
A Hairy Accomplishment
Having escaped the rigors of daily shaving may, to a Veteran, symbolize a transition from military life into civilian life. We treat it as a milestone. To us, it marks a prestigious moment. We served our country, now it is time to lay back and let someone else serve their time. Some of us may even just let our hair down, for me, it was quite literal.
The Link between PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and Beards
I like many Veterans before me suffer from PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Constantly haunted by memories of things we cannot unsee.
What is PTSD
According to MilitaryOneSource.com Combat stress, also known as battle fatigue, is a common response to the mental and emotional strain when confronted with dangerous and traumatic situations. It is a natural reaction to the wear and tear of the body and mind after extended and demanding operations.
For myself, I suffered constantly from a condition called Hypervigilance where one would exhibit an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect activity. One of the coping mechanisms I would use to combat my condition would be to remember where I was. That, for me, I was no longer in a Combat zone.
Maybe that is why most Veterans grow a beard. As a reminder. Maybe when they have a traumatic episode, they may run their fingers through their hair, or pick at their face, thus stabilizing them and bringing them back to reality. Maybe it serves as a reminder, that they are no longer in a military Conflict, and they are back at home.
How to Grow a Badass Veteran Beard
The First step to maintaining a Badass Veteran beard, worthy of reverence, is to actually grow one (a beard that is). This part would seem simple enough, right? Wrong! Battle, just like any mission in the military, good reconnaissance will ensure you are prepared for the war to come. You should approach your face like everything else in the military, you will Plan, Prepare, Analyze, Execute, and Review the task at hand, ensuring you have a good LZ (Landing Zone) for those Veteran Sprouts to SP (Starting Point) from.
5 Veteran Beard ROE (Rules of Engagement)
Rules of Engagement or ROE is the way the military engages any adversary. Adhering to a good ROE will get you far in this endeavor. Those ROE are:
- Soften your face by conditioning it with balms and face conditioners
- Shine your face or lubricate your skin every morning to ensure it does not dry out
- Exfoliate your face once to twice a week when you first start growing out that face fuzz to break the thin layer of skin that can keep some of those hairs from reaching the extraction point.
- Shine or lubricate your face every night. This will ensure your face does not dry out and cause skin irritation.
- Wash you face daily. This will provide a good clean surface for your beard to grow and will minimize the chance of clogged pores and ingrown hairs.
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