You practically live in your uniforms when on deployment. At any given time a uniform is your work clothes, your sleeping bag, your “going out to dinner jacket”… it sounds nasty (and actually, it is) but after a while you don’t notice. Especially when everyone else is dressed the same way, with their uniforms deteriorating in much the same way, and with everyone accumulating a similar nastiness, stains, rips, and rumpled appearance. You get comfortable with the same, familiar old rips and tears.
Sure, we had laundry but field uniforms get abused in a way that many of our at-home clothes don’t. We had four uniform sets, pants and jacket (called a “shirt”, the t-shirt was the “undershirt”), and those four sets of clothing got worn for all kinds of rough stuff for a few days at a time, then sent to the laundry. It was a constant cycle of wear, abuse, wash, and back again.
Eventually the Army will send you a new set of uniforms– your “second issue”– and you look forward to new clothes but also realize that this means a new period of breaking in, stiffness, and a lack of that nice, jersey-like cooling ability that only a threadbare uniform can give. Priorities and perspectives can be strange in a deployed environment.