Visiting with sailors at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis didn’t mince words when discussing the differences between serving in the military and the civilian population.

Mattis told sailors they would experience the best and worst life has to offer while in the Navy, a sign they are living life to the fullest.

“That means you’re not some p---y sitting on the sidelines,” Mattis told the sailors Wednesday, according to a Pentagon transcript of the event.

Military service will help ensure sailors are ”not going to be laying on a shrink’s couch when you’re 45 years old, say ’what the hell did I do with my life?’” Mattis said, according to the transcript. ”Why? Because you served others; you served something bigger than you.”

Mattis took questions regarding U.S. nuclear deterrence, the nuclear triad and whether America’s place in the world should continue at the post-World War II level of engagement or recede to a more isolationist stance.

While extolling the virtues of military service, Mattis told the sailors he wasn’t there to give them a re-enlistment pitch.

“Some of you aren‘t old enough to drink a beer, and yet you’re the only reason I came back to work in the Department of Defense,” he said.

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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