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What is a Drill Sergeant Really?

January 17, 2011 | Staff Sergeant Derrick Grabener

                My time is a Drill Sergeant is coming to a close in a couple of weeks and I’ve had a little while to chew on exactly what being a Drill Sergeant is and how I felt about being a Drill Sergeant for the last two years.

                First off I’d like to say that it was nothing at all like I thought it would be.  I fully expected it to be just like any other Army job that I had done in the past.  It was not at all but in a good way.  Being a Drill Sergeant was probably the single most rewarding job in the Army.  Over the course of a ten week period we took young men and women from all different walks of life from all different parts of the country and taught them some of the most important life skills needed to survive in today’s ever changing world.  We get young men and women fresh of drugs and alcohol.  We get young men and women from broken homes, abusive homes, from the streets.  We get them from blue collar families and we get them from very rich families and yet the goals that we have as Drill Sergeants are never changing.  Our goals are to take these patriots and warriors and teach them everything we can in a short amount of time while giving them confidence and dedication not only to the Army but to their comrades and friends alike. 

                During the ten weeks you will be in Basic Combat Training you learn a multitude of different skills from how to balance a checkbook and save money to the typical Army skills like shooting and communicating.  You will also learn skills like combatives (Mixed Martial Arts), how to lose weight and keep it off, how to exercise the right way, and most important you will learn exactly who you are as a person and exactly what you are capable of.  Every cycle we get new warriors and every cycle when it’s over and graduation has come and gone these soldiers always say, Wow, Drill Sergeant I didn’t know that I was capable of doing all of these things and being this kind of person.  It doesn’t matter why they joined or for what reason they chose the Army at some point every single person has thought to themselves can I really do this and am I good enough to make it through this.  The answer is really simple, YES.  Millions of soldiers have accomplished the task of completing basic training over the course of its 235 year history and I say if they can do it then you can do it too. 

                Most soldiers actually have fun in Basic Combat Training.  I’ve heard so many times over the past two years from soldiers that they actually really don’t even want to leave Basic because they were having so much fun.  Think of it like a 3 month break from life.  All you have to do for 10 weeks is get into shape and save some money while learning about yourself and what it is that you really want to accomplish in your life.  We teach you have to set and obtain both short and long term goals.  You will learn about college and how to do it in the Army while earning a steady and might I add pretty good size paycheck.  You will also learn about how to take in facts and make the best decisions for you when it comes to personal matters and we as Drill Sergeants are kind of like sounding boards, there for you to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice about anything you need help with.  There isn’t a situation that we haven’t been through and don’t have the answers for and if we don’t have the answers then we know somebody that does.  It’s a really awesome thing to have so many people available to you to help guide you down the right path so you can make the right choices.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to ask for help and was so grateful to have all of these outstanding people there for me when I needed them.

                There are so many excellent reasons to join the military and let us Drill Sergeants work our magic on you and your life.  The only question is do you have a good enough reason not to.  For those of  you that have a plan for life and all of the means to see that plan through to fruition then I wish you the best of luck and I hope you realize your dreams but for those you that don’t have a clear cut path or aren’t sure what you want to do with your life but would really like somebody to show you what your capable of and how to get to the finish line of your goals and dreams then give a recruiter a call or walk in their office and let them tell you how a Drill Sergeant and the Army can change your life.


     Drill Sergeant Grabener


  • Patricia
    2/15/2011 2:11 AM
    Staff Sergeant Grabener, I am a writer and my latest book is about an Army Sergeant and I want to make him a drill sergeant, but I'm not sure if I can. As it is now he is a Sergeant Major. can he still be a drill sergeant or should I change him to a Staff Sergeant. I know this isn't your normal post's I'm sure but I couldn't find this information any where else. I hope to hear from you soon thanks.
    • Jonathan
      11/11/2011 8:12 PM
      Hey Patricia,
      Read both Drill Sergeant Grabener's and your posts. My dad was a drill sergeant in the army. At that time, I believe he was an E-6. For the purposes of your book, and probably more realistically, I'd say it's more likely for a drill instructor to be a staff sergeant. My dad is a retired Sergeant Major now and I know he didn't make that rank until years after leaving his D.I. billet. Hope that helps =] Cheers and good luck with your book.
  • fredu
    4/6/2013 8:29 AM
    can a drill sgt yell to a soldier that is not in basic ( active ) duty soldier please me.know. And please provide reference
  • DS Martinez
    4/26/2013 5:37 PM
    Fredu - Typically no, however once you wear the badge, its hard to not want to raise your voice. The Reg is AR350-6; DS Bible
  • jordan
    12/25/2014 5:17 PM
    I know at basic I admired my drill sergeants I kept motivated because of them I wanted to quit so bad but it was the belief they had I could be an excelling soldier that made me never give up. I'm in ait now. I even wished my drill sergeant who helped me a merry Christmas. It was on facebook. Is that a no go is my question.

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