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CPL Pinkamena Pie

CPL's guide to joining the military

32 posts in this topic

Well, as of late I have noticed a number of my friends that have expressed interest in joining one of the US military branches, so I figured I might as well post a quick guide to help those that are looking to join get the best possible deal.

First and foremost, I will preface my guide with this. I joined the Army nearly 9 years ago, so the Army I came into was dramatically different than the Army of today. While I expect some of this to be a little dated, I'm sure that overall it will should still be relevant. Also, despite this being tailored from my experience entering into the Army, a lot of the advice could also be helpful for those looking to join the other branches as well.

With that out of the way, let's take a quick look at your service options;

Air Force - Out of the 5 military branches, the Air Force generally have the best standards of living. The jobs in the Air Force are a bit more specialized, meaning that whatever job you get you will most likely do. Job promotions are based off of written tests about your job. Overall, the attitude within the Air Force seems to be a lot more relaxed than the other services. The only cons I have seen to the Air Force seem to be that promotions can be slower than in the other services.

Navy - I would rate the Navy as having the second best standards of living. Jobs are also specialized with promotions based off of written tests about your job. The Navy also has some choice bases around the US and the world in general. A potential con, depending on your preference, the Navy is one of the more strict of the services, preceeded only by the Marines.

Marines - Honestly, I am a little foggy about the inner workings of the Marine Corps. I know that they are among the best disciplined of the military services, which can potentionally be seen as either good or bad. I am also not particularly familiar with how their promotion system operates nor the promotion rates.

Army - While I am unsure as to the standards of living for the Marines, I can honestly say the Army has some of the lowest among the armed services. As far as overall attitude, the Army is more laid back than the Marines and Navy, but more strict than the Air Force. Jobs within the Army are more generalized, so while you may train for one job, there is no definite guarantee that you will work it. However, this can also be beneficial, since you can get job experience in additional fields than the one you were awarded. Normally, the Army will attempt to at least keep you within your field (so, say you are a computer specialist, you may potentially find yourself running satellite systems or radios or some other communications equipment). Promotions in the Army for the first four ranks are automatic, with the potential for early promotion based off of attitude and work ethic. For E5 and E6, you have to go before a board where you are tested on general Army knowledge. After you attend the board, you then have to meet points for your job (points are derived from PT test, weapons qualifications, military and civilian education, awards, etc). Once you meet or exceed whatever the monthly points are, you pin on the next rank. From E7 to E9 promotions are based off of record reviews only. Out of the services, I have heard from the other branches that the Army allows for the fastest promotions (of course, if you are in a job that requires the ranks, some jobs like mine are over strength which leads to a stagnation in promotions). Cons, however, include on average longer deployments than other services (average for Marines is 7 months, Air Force between 6 to 9, can't remember the Navy) with average deployments being 12 months, however with the war in Iraq over and Afghanistan winding down, this will soon no longer be a real concern.

Coast Guard - I have no information what so ever about the Coast Guard other than their rank structure mirrors the Navy. Aside from that, I have no idea about their standards of living, promotion system, or promotion rates.

Aside from your branch, there are also three options for service (which may vary depending upon your actual service), these are as follows;

Active Duty - Essentially, the military is your full time job.

Reserve - Pretty much you will continue on with your civilian life after basic training and your job training. There are time requirements on a monthly basis (known as "drills" in the Army) and you can still be activated to deploy in times of war, however, often times the Reserves are used to address natural disasters and humanitarian efforts.

National Guard - More or less the same as the Reserves, however, unlike the Reserves, National Guard fall under the control of the state government as opposed to federal government.

Once you have a basic idea of the route you intend on going, next is to research what you want to even do in the military.

Some excellent resources are as follows;

http://www.goarmy.com/ - You can research the different occupations within the US Army as well as get a better understanding about what to expect in the Army (of course, highly glossed over, but that is any service).

http://www.navy.com/careers.html - Same as above.

http://www.marines.com/home - Ditto.

http://www.airforce.com/

http://www.gocoastguard.com/

One of the few things that my recruiter actually told me to do (that was good, that is) was to go through the above listed websites (depending which branch you plan on joining) and make a list of at least 5 jobs that you are interested in. Label these jobs in order from the one you want the most to the one you want least. Take this list with you both when you go to talk to the recruiter and also when you head to the MEPS station. As long as you score high enough to meet the job requirements on the ASVAB, stick to this list to ensure you end up with a job that you are going to be happy with. If the people at the MEPS station are not willing to give you a job you want, be ready to walk out of the office with the understanding that you will come back later when they have availabilities for your job (of course, this will only work for you if they tell you that there are no available slots for your job, if you didn't score high enough on the ASVAB for the job you want, you will have to wait to retake the ASVAB to try and score higher or settle for what jobs they say you qualify for).

Before going to the MEPS station to take the ASVAB test, look up practice questions or study guides online. While the majority of this test is basic knowledge stuff, English, math, basic mechanics, etc it is still helpful to have an idea what to expect so that you can be better prepared. Some practice tests can be found here; http://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/asvab

Also, the recruiting station should also be able to administer some practice ASVAB tests. Generally, the tests they administer are more difficult than the real test so, it should be a good gauge on how well you can expect to do on the actual test.

When you start working with a recruiter and they discuss with you about rank, ask if there is anything that you can do to come in with more rank. I know that at least for the Army, you can meet certain requirements before shipping off to MEPS to obtain more rank. While things have most likely changed, a few things that were used when I came in to get more rank included participating in JROTC in High school (regardless of which branch JROTC it was). For each completed year in the JROTC you had, that was another rank that could be awarded. Of course, you will need to prove this with high school transcripts, but that is easy enough. Another thing I was told could of been done was passing an Army PT test. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/a/afpt.htm Basically you have to score a minimum of 60 points per category to be considered passing. Another was getting a friend to join the service as well. Any college that you may have taken can also help towards gaining additional rank. I'm not sure if this applies to all services or just the Army, but it never hurts to ask, especially when you're talking about a difference of a few hundred dollars.

Another thing to always keep in mind, the recruiters are almost guaranteed to lie to you. Most the time, I do not believe it to be a matter of malice, but rather ignorance. Sometimes, the recruiter may not know something and instead of looking like they are uninformed, will tell you whatever they think you want to hear (I got that when I was awarded a shit job, they told me that it was exactly like the job I had originally wanted, which in turn was not the case). Due to this fact, anything that is promised to you, be sure to get in writing. Anything promised in writing must be honored, but anything promised by mouth does not have to be.

When negotiating a contract, some other considerations that you can ask about include sign on bonuses or choice of duty station. While the Army isn't as hard up as it was 9 years ago, you still may be able to make out with something a little extra. Certain jobs come with sign on bonuses, so if you're not particularly attached to a specific job, you can choose a job by how much of an incentive they give you. Same with choice of duty station. Worst case scenario, they tell you no. Best case, you can get the job you want with a little extra rank, pocket money, and a choice of where you'll end up in the world after training.

Finally, if you are not satisfied with what is offered, always remember you can walk out. The less desperate you appear to the recruiters, the harder they will work at getting you in (or at least, that's how it used to work).

At this point in time, I think that about concludes the advice I have to offer. If there is anything more I can think of or if there is anyone with questions about enlisting (or perhaps members of other services that can offer a little insight on contract options and what not), please feel free to chime in.

Best of luck to you guys,

CPL

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Thanks for the guide, much appreciated.

I'm pretty much set on the Air Force at this point, just working to get in shape before basic.

The one thing I constantly hear though, "Get everything in writing and have a witness if possible."

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Thanks for the guide, much appreciated.

I'm pretty much set on the Air Force at this point, just working to get in shape before basic.

The one thing I constantly hear though, "Get everything in writing and have a witness if possible."

Definitely... Unfortunately, I didn't know a lot of this and because of it, I didn't realize that I could of gotten a better deal (or at a minimum, gotten a job I actually wanted instead of getting lied to about what I was initially going to be doing in the Army)... So... If what I learned the hard way could help others, then so be it...

Of course, I will also go on to say, I'm no one that thinks that everyone should join the military... Realistically, it's not for everyone... However, for those that can serve their time honorably, they will by far have a leg up once their out of the service over their peers that didn't... Between the training, job experience, certifications that the military pays for, as well as free college to active duty military members, there's a lot of opportunity to better yourself while making a living (which, I'll be honest, military life isn't necessarily a hard one)...

Coupled with the fact that the war in Iraq is over and America's involvement in Afghanistan is on the decline, the threat of being sent to a warzone is also on the decline (which, too, isn't all that bad... Not as bad as movies make it out to be)... That's after 27 months in Iraq with another 12 upcoming to Afghanistan...

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Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely keep all these things in mind.

I'm rather beholden to the Air-force, but as I understand it there is a wait list for joining. Also, some cursory reading seems to suggest that the Army offers better post-term education benefits or at least guarantees certain benefits that the AF might offer but isn't obligated to. Also, I like living in Washington, and I'm not entirely sure there is an Air-Force base here. . .

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Due to popular demand: AFB's (.PDF)

Also includes Air Stations, Air National Guard Bases and Air Force Reserve Bases for the US and other overseas countries/regions/etc.

Edited by Racquerr
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You might want to add a paragraph of the possibility of extremely though moral dilemmas, traumatizing episodes and life threatening experiences you know.

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You might want to add a paragraph of the possibility of extremely though moral dilemmas, traumatizing episodes and life threatening experiences you know.

Why? As I stated before, Iraq is done with and by the end of next year, so is (the vast majority) of America's involvement with Afghanistan... That possibility of "extremely [tough] moral dilemmas, traumatizing episodes, and life threatening experiences" are on the steady decline these days and unless another war kicks off, most people joining the military now will not have to experience any of this...

Besides, being on the outside (as both a foreigner and a non military member), most of what you believe to be true as to the nature of the US military is most likely based off of conjecture and movies, neither of which, I assure you, are very accurate...

With that said, this post isn't meant to persuade people into joining the military branches, because quite frankly, I'm not the sort of patriotic zealot that believes every American should serve it's country... The military is not for everyone, I've also said that too... What this post is for is to help those that are already considering joining the military, to help them know what to expect and how to get the most out of their contract...

Anyways, now that that is out of the way...

Thanks for the advice. I'll definitely keep all these things in mind.

I'm rather beholden to the Air-force, but as I understand it there is a wait list for joining. Also, some cursory reading seems to suggest that the Army offers better post-term education benefits or at least guarantees certain benefits that the AF might offer but isn't obligated to. Also, I like living in Washington, and I'm not entirely sure there is an Air-Force base here. . .

As far as post-term education benefits, I really think all services stand even at that... For the most part once out of the service you will rely on the GI Bill to pay for your education... The GI Bill is universal amongst the services, so in that respect, your options are all the same... Point of interest however, and I'm sure it will be brought up whenever you finally do ship to basic training (or whatever they call it by the other services), but you have to opt in for the GI Bill... Basically, you opt in for it and then you have about $100 deducted from your paycheck for the first year you are in... Once you pay in your dues, after service (or really, even while in the service) you will have the GI Bill available to assist paying with your educational needs...

For more information, check here;

http://www.gibill.va.gov/

http://www.gibill.va...bill/index.html (Post 9/11 GI Bill)

http://www.gibill.va...bill/index.html (Montgomery GI Bill)

Personally though, I have yet to actually touch my GI Bill (that, and I have an older one than currently offered... I have the Montgomery GI Bill, the current one offered is the Post 9/11 GI Bill... I'm not really sure the difference between the two though)... I'm not sure if the other services offer it, however, in the Army at least, as long as you are on Active duty status, you can actually attend college free of charge... The Army pays for an Associates level degree, a Bachelors level degree, and will pay for a portion of a Masters level degree... You can also get the Army to pick up the cost for certain technical certifications (like, for instance, being in the computer field, some of my certifications have been paid for by the Army)...

More info;

http://www.goarmyed.com/

https://www.goarmyed...e_policies.aspx (Tuition assistance policies)

https://www.goarmyed...lan_search.aspx (if you scroll through the box marked "Colleges" you can see which institutions are partnered with the Army for this program)

Also, most colleges that are associated with the program (which there are many) will offer a review of your military records. Depending on what classes you have been through and what military job you choose, you can get a sizable number of credit hours to use towards a degree... I received 60 college hours for the training I've done within the Army (hell, another few hours and I could get a degree in general studies, but that's not what I'm actually shooting for)...

Of course, as I have said before, I am not sure if similar programs are offered through other branches of service... The best I can tell you to do is to ask a recruiter from the branch you wish to serve in (which, at current, appears to be Air Force ;p) and ask them about any programs offered that allows for Active duty service members to attend college... Also ask for any kind of website or documentation so that you can compare the different programs against each other...

Also, thanks Coffey... After being in 9 years, you pick up a thing or two...

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What is life like while on active duty? What do you actually do for most hours of the day? And recreation? When do you get opportunities to leave and go home for a short while?

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Active duty is more a lifestyle than just a simple job...

A typical day in Active duty military life goes as follows:

0630 - Accountability formation & physical training

0730 - Released from PT for personal hygiene

0900 - First formation & work call

1130 - Lunch

1300 - Work

1630~1700 - End of day formation

The typical work week is just Monday through Friday.... Occasionally, there are extra requirements such as CQ (Charge of Quarters) where you sit at a desk for 24 hours, but you get the following day off work and it's rarely a straight 24 hours that you're there... You get meals and often times take turns with a little down time to catch some sleep... These requirements are rare though... I have only done it a handful of times in the 9 years I've been in, but that is also due to my position...

Bear in mind, this is the absolute basic day... Depending on your job and where you work, your hours might be adjusted... My hours are highly irregular due to my job and the fact that a lot of what needs to be done, only seems to be able to be done by me (because no one else is usually around or even knows how to do it)...

Also, it's very typical to get at least one long weekend a month, be it a 3 or 4 day weekend... We also get federal holidays off... And if you don't decide to go home for the holidays (Christmas/New Years), typically the base switches to half day schedules for about 2 weeks towards the end of December...

As recreation time goes, really when you're off duty you can pretty much do whatever you want... The only real restriction is you can not go outside of 250 miles from base without approval (specifically, for long weekends)... All it requires for approval is to put in a pass request, which outlines where you are going and all that... There are usually numerous recreational opportunities on and close to base (ie, here at Fort Hood, we have lakes for swimming, fishing, and boating... There are paintball fields, mountain bike and hiking trails, camping grounds, horseback riding, etc)... In addition to all this, for single soldiers there is a program called BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) that normally organizes trips to different places or holds gatherings/parties, etc... Normally a lot of these BOSS organized gatherings take place during the duty week, so it's like free time off from work... A big one they like to do here is take people down to San Antonio (about 2 and a half hours south of here) and put the soldiers up in a hotel and let them take part in activities or whatever for a few days... All expenses paid, minus spending money...

Vacation (or, "leave") is pretty flexible... You earn 2.5 days of paid leave per month you are on duty (which means, you will get a total of 30 paid days of leave a year)... You are not required to take leave except during deployments (which, often times is "free leave" anyways, meaning they don't deduct it from the days you have accrued)... You are permitted to maintain up to 70 days of leave per fiscal year (so, if you have more than 70 days, you have to use them prior to Oct 1st every year or you will lose them... This is known as "use or lose" leave)... Aside from a few times a year where operations require as many people as possible (usually during exercises), you can request to take leave at any time... There are also times when you have "block leave" which means, they expect people to ask for the time off, so it's less of a hassle to request it... Usually these times coincide prior to and immediately following a deployment... Also, around Thanksgiving or Christmas time... Depends on your unit really... If you're a workaholic like me, however, you'd regularly carry more than 70 days and are constantly getting bitched at for not using up your days... Lol... I think I am already up to 75 days and I had to use 13 just prior to Oct 1st... For leave, you can pretty much go where ever, as long as you include all required documentation with your leave packet... Only real caveat to that is places that are considered dangerous, ie Mexico currently... There are also other countries that you are restricted from traveling to... But, really, that only applies to international travel...

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Military life is sounding better and better. . .

Granted, I know there are going to be times when I'll regret going into it--but in the long run I'm really liking what I'm hearing.

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Military life is sounding better and better. . .

Granted, I know there are going to be times when I'll regret going into it--but in the long run I'm really liking what I'm hearing.

Could you at least please talk to me about this? I want to know why.

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Military life is sounding better and better. . .

Granted, I know there are going to be times when I'll regret going into it--but in the long run I'm really liking what I'm hearing.

If any time, it will be initially while in basic training... You're going to get yelled at, even if you haven't done anything wrong... You're going to be tired between the sleep schedule, the training, and the "smokings" (punishment through physical training)... But, it's only 9 weeks of your life (or wait, is it 10 these days?)... Some of it really sucks, some of it will be fun... Just take it with a grain of salt and keep moving forward...

After basic training you'll get to AIT (Advanced Individual Training) or, the equivalent of such for whatever branch you decide on... At first, it will be very similar to basic training, but over the weeks they gradually start to give you more and more rights... Wearing civilian clothes, going off (and staying off) post on the weekends, having electronic devices, all that jazz... Although, that too is kind of dependent on the length of your school... The really long schools will treat you like a regular member, the shorter schools less so... My first school was 25 weeks and after the first 4 I had most of my rights back... My second school was 24 weeks (although, when you are reclassing, they don't treat you like a child... Most of the time)...

Once you get to your unit, you may get a few people acting like a hard ass for a few weeks after you first arrive (I guess, asserting their dominance or some shit?) but this too fades... I'm friends with the majority of the people I work, both enlisted and officers...

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To tell you the truth, I was kind of thinking about actually back into this myself. I do have a little bit of a "jump" because I did do Naval JROTC, but then decided to go to college because financial aid offerings were pretty good (really good since I was an orphan).

The thing is I'm not really satisfied with the job aspects post college. I do have a 2yr business degree with a computer support specialist emphasis and 3 other IT/CIS/WEB certificates and 1 other technical certificate (in electronics) plus I'm close to my bachelors degree and one more certificate for web development. While I still do a fair amount of technical support work, I'm basically doing it on my own and not as part of an IT department for <Insert Random Company> despite having all of that.

I wanted to get with a company that does tuition reimbursement, but it's not the easiest thing to get. I'm afraid of taking out more loans to finish everything up and then not having a decent enough job to repay it easily after I graduate. It's not just the education I'm looking for, but the working experience I need probably more so than anything else.

It's not about the money, I love doing the work. It's just I don't want to have to struggle monetarily afterwards. I also want something more challenging. Back with the JROTC, I remember all computerized systems I saw and would just love to spend days on end working with plus the "taste" of the military life I was able to experience. If I could get into that (doesn't necessarily matter the branch of service) I'd be happy.

At the very least, something along those lines with the guard or the reserves would do too. I'm also considering that.

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To tell you the truth, I was kind of thinking about actually back into this myself. I do have a little bit of a "jump" because I did do Naval JROTC, but then decided to go to college because financial aid offerings were pretty good (really good since I was an orphan).

The thing is I'm not really satisfied with the job aspects post college. I do have a 2yr business degree with a computer support specialist emphasis and 3 other IT/CIS/WEB certificates and 1 other technical certificate (in electronics) plus I'm close to my bachelors degree and one more certificate for web development. While I still do a fair amount of technical support work, I'm basically doing it on my own and not as part of an IT department for <Insert Random Company> despite having all of that.

I wanted to get with a company that does tuition reimbursement, but it's not the easiest thing to get. I'm afraid of taking out more loans to finish everything up and then not having a decent enough job to repay it easily after I graduate. It's not just the education I'm looking for, but the working experience I need probably more so than anything else.

It's not about the money, I love doing the work. It's just I don't want to have to struggle monetarily afterwards. I also want something more challenging. Back with the JROTC, I remember all computerized systems I saw and would just love to spend days on end working with plus the "taste" of the military life I was able to experience. If I could get into that (doesn't necessarily matter the branch of service) I'd be happy.

At the very least, something along those lines with the guard or the reserves would do too. I'm also considering that.

A viable option if you are interested in the military would be to finish your bachelors and see about coming into the military as an officer... Pay would be significantly better as would your quality of life (yes, it's true... Officers really do get pampered in the military)... If you have student loans, there are also some options for getting your loans paid off by the military (after all, it's most likely cheaper for them to pay your student loans off than it is to send you through ROTC, since they pay for college as well as housing and what not)... Of course, this will most like come at the cost of a set amount of service required (but, for officers, I believe they're locked into a 4 to 6 year commitment anyways)...

Best I can tell you is, once again, is to talk to a recruiter... They have a lot more experience and understanding as to the requirements and contract options available...

http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/become-an-officer.html

I do know, however, the student loan repayment options are available for both Active duty, as well as Reserve and National Guard components... With your computer/IT background and studies, I would suggest you take a look at becoming a 25A...

http://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/computers-and-technology/signal-officer.html

Either way, officer is definitely the easier route in military service...

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Military life is sounding better and better. . .

___________

Too bad you can't pay for the ranks anymore... I would have loved to be an Ensign, and march around with the Colours through a smoky battlefield, to then get shot and die at the young age of 17, wearing a red coat and tricorne.

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I've recently heard horror stories about that enlistment bonus--that sometimes it takes up to two years for it to come in. While it won't really change my decision, I was looking forward to getting that enlistment bonus fairly soon. What do you know about that?

In the long run, what does joining the military mean for my artistic career? Is this a hobby that I'll still be able to pursue? I mean, sure I know that I'll be bale to do whatever I want while on leave, but during active duty I don't imagine that I'll have access to my tools for arting. . .or even the privacy that I'd prefer.

Also, a friend mentioned the idea of going ROTC first. They teach a lot of the same things, and ultimately prepare you form becoming an officer. You get food and board (and some education?), as well as a small stipend for your own spending. Sounds like a idea to me, and I want to consider it.

Military life is sounding better and better. . .

Granted, I know there are going to be times when I'll regret going into it--but in the long run I'm really liking what I'm hearing.

Could you at least please talk to me about this? I want to know why.

Because of the long and short term benefits. I'm in debt--I'm threatened with the idea of being homeless. I might be able to avoid it, but that would be a life of struggling and effort working minimum wage jobs that give me no life long skills; all for potentially going no where in the long run. Yeah, I'd love to work toward getting a job in illustration, but realistically speaking that's a pipe dream. And while I'm not giving up on it, I need to have more practical idea. As long as I can take care of my self and still pursue art as a hobby, I think I'll be happy.

I need money. I need skills. I need physical training. I need to not feel like I'm dead weight for the people I'm living with. I'm hoping the military can help me with all this.

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I've recently heard horror stories about that enlistment bonus--that sometimes it takes up to two years for it to come in. While it won't really change my decision, I was looking forward to getting that enlistment bonus fairly soon. What do you know about that?

Eh, I haven't heard any such horror stories... Usually, as with mine (I was awarded a $5000 sign on bonus when I joined), they will not give it to you until after you have completed basic training and AIT... Also, be it noted that the amount they offer you is pre-taxes (yes, seems like a silly thing to point out, but at 18 I didn't realize that)... Of course, you'll get the majority of the back when you file taxes, but still... So, depending on the length of your school will depend on how long you have to wait for a bonus, if awarded...

In the long run, what does joining the military mean for my artistic career? Is this a hobby that I'll still be able to pursue? I mean, sure I know that I'll be bale to do whatever I want while on leave, but during active duty I don't imagine that I'll have access to my tools for arting. . .or even the privacy that I'd prefer.

I don't see why you wouldn't have the ability to pursue your art... As I pointed out, your time is your time, what you choose to do with it is up to you... The only issue you may encounter is the privacy portion, but that too is wholly dependent on what style of barracks you get... The newer barracks that the Army is now building is essentially a two bedroom apartment, with a shared common area for you and your roommate... The older style is more of a large open room that is divided by furniture such as wall lockers... It affords some privacy, but not to the same degree the newer style barracks offers... Also, barracks are really for junior enlisted... Once you start getting more rank (or, if you go the officer route), you'll be given BAH (basic allowance for housing), where you can go out and get your own place off post if desired...

Also, a friend mentioned the idea of going ROTC first. They teach a lot of the same things, and ultimately prepare you form becoming an officer. You get food and board (and some education?), as well as a small stipend for your own spending. Sounds like a idea to me, and I want to consider it.

In my prior response to Racquerr, there are some links for becoming an officer... If you're accepted into the ROTC program, you are (and forgive me, if things have changed I am not privvy to it, so verify all my facts against an actual recruiter) given the same monthly pay as an E5... In addition, they also (I believe) give money for BAS (basic allowance for sustinance) and BAH... They will also pay for your college... In exchange, you are required to go to drills just like a reservist where you'll learn a lot of the basics about being in the Army...

More info here:

http://www.goarmy.com/rotc.html

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Because of the long and short term benefits. I'm in debt--I'm threatened with the idea of being homeless. I might be able to avoid it, but that would be a life of struggling and effort working minimum wage jobs that give me no life long skills; all for potentially going no where in the long run. Yeah, I'd love to work toward getting a job in illustration, but realistically speaking that's a pipe dream. And while I'm not giving up on it, I need to have more practical idea. As long as I can take care of my self and still pursue art as a hobby, I think I'll be happy.

I need money. I need skills. I need physical training. I need to not feel like I'm dead weight for the people I'm living with. I'm hoping the military can help me with all this.

I see. But please, do consider all (and I mean all) other options before going through with this. I would have offered you to come live with me, but I sadly don't have the money or space due to living with my family, but I will say that if I had I would have been more than happy to let you come over. Though I am sure there is friends out there who both have the space and would be happy to let you stay, and if a friend offers to let you stay it wouldn't be as much a burden for them as them wanting to genuinely help you after all.

And if you do join the army, please do not go into any of the ground troop divisions where you can be sent out with a assault rifle to the middle east if the time being would call for it. Even if your life might seem dark now you do truly have a huge amount of friends who love and care for you and don't want to see you in any danger or harms way.

I wish there was more I could do to help you, I really do. But I will tell you this, your artistic skills and illustration job isn't necessarily just a pipe dream, you just got to find a way to get your work known by the right people.

Just please, whatever you do, stay safe and never get yourself into a position where you have to fight in close armed combat. Your life is way to valuable to all of us to be thrown away as cannon fodder for something as stupid as a war.

Edited by Nikki Lyra

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Sometimes, perception on what the military is about and what it actually is are two very separate things. It's not just about the ground-pounders who go in and fight. There's genuine opportunity for education and learning for various skills and trades. It also teaches self-discipline, self-confidence and gives you everything you need to confront challenges you may run into in the future.

Even if you were to join the infantry, the airborne, etc no one sends anyone somewhere expecting them to become cannon fodder or a sacrifice. Yes, there's danger. It's no secret we're not friends with everyone in the world. The military invests a lot into education, technology and anything else necessary to make sure it's soldiers come back alive and well if they are faced with that danger.

It's also not fair to say that certain people should not go into the military even if they are seriously considering it, but for others who are doing the same thing, it's okay and they can do whatever they want. Everyone should be able to make that choice freely and without guilt. That is a choice between them and themselves. It is up to those who are making that decision on how to consider the feelings of their family and friends.

However, the decision can't be made solely on what they feel. It is about what you feel and what direction you want to take in your life in. If you only focus on the negative aspects of anything, you will never what to do anything.

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Well sorry for fearing for the safety of someone who means a lot to me. If anyone I know suddenly decides to base jump without a parachute I guess you will complain if I feel worried about that and try and talk them into reconsidering it too.

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Well sorry for fearing for the safety of someone who means a lot to me. If anyone I know suddenly decides to base jump without a parachute I guess you will complain if I feel worried about that and try and talk them into reconsidering it too.

We all understand that you care for his safety, lass, but I do believe he has to follow what his heart and brain tell him. If Rainbro wishes to 'list and fight, we should not waste our energy in trying to stop him, but rather support his decision and hope he won't put himself into needless dangers.

The army is, of course, a very dangerous employment, but if he believes it's the best for him, so be it. Let us be proud of him, for we all know he will come back in one piece, and great stories to tell.

Besides, it's not like he will be marching in a straight line, directly into a wall of lead.

battle_of_camden.jpg

Those glorious days were done for a century ago.

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Fact is, joining the military isn't nearly that dangerous. Base jumping without a parachute is infinitely more dangerous, so it's not a good analogy.

I don't have any interest in fighting, or even really protecting king and country. Though the skills that I'll learn will help me protect those close to me, and that I do appreciate. As far as combat scenarios are concerned, I'm taking a calculated risk to avoid getting into a real battle, while still gaining the benefits of military work.

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Well sorry for fearing for the safety of someone who means a lot to me. If anyone I know suddenly decides to base jump without a parachute I guess you will complain if I feel worried about that and try and talk them into reconsidering it too.

It's all fine and well to have fears about a person's safety, however, what you seem to fail to realize is that Rainbro is merely exploring his available options for supporting and bettering himself. All of your good intentions in the world will not help him in that respect and if you truly cared for Rainbro, you would support and respect his decision regardless of your personal feelings on the matter. Failure to do so gives the appearance (no matter how right or wrong said appearance is) of selfishness and that it's less about what Rainbro wants and more about what you want.

I am not here to push people into the military, personally, I have no real stake in our troop strength (and actually, the fewer of us there are, the more secure my job is due to the troop reduction under the current administration). I am, however, offering as unbiased as possible information so that people who are interested in joining the military service get the best possible deal.

But, since everyone seems to be so dead set on talking about the inherent dangers of military service, let's talk about it.

In the United States, there are approximately 145,212,012 people who meet the age requirements for military service (18 to 49). Of these, only about 120,022,084 are considered "fit for duty", meaning they do not have a physical or psychological condition that would exclude them from service. The Active duty component is comprised of 1,456,862 service members (approximately 1% of the US population that meet age requirements for military service and a paultry 0.46% of the total US population). If we go on to factor in the Reserve and National Guard components into these figures, that only brings the numbers up to 2,915,362 service members (approximately 2% of the US population that meet age requirements for military service and 0.92% of the total US population). As you can see, a relatively small group of people.

Since the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2011 (and the subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003), approximately 6,518 service members have died in the "War on Terrorism". This averages out 592 deaths a year during the duration of OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom) and OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom). This means, that during this time period, a soldier's chances of dying on the battlefield was approximately 0.02%. Afghanistan, for the duration of the 11 years we have been fighting there, has averaged about 184 US deaths. Since we are now only fighting in Afghanistan (with an expected draw down of troops later next year), our chances of dying on the battlefield lower to 0.006%.

Just for comparison, all the US law enforcement agencies put together have a total of around 795,000 officers (officers being defined as any person that has jurisdictional rights to arrest an individual) averaged a number of 153 deaths per year in the line of duty which means a law enforcement officer's chance of dying in the line of duty is (surprise surprise) also approximately 0.02%.

Since the percentages are based off of annual likelihood of a person dying, I would go out to wager that being a law enforcement agent has the more dangerous of the jobs, since this 0.02% is a constant, where as a military service member this figure is only true while deployed.

The sad fact of the matter is, in the US military, a person is more likely to die due to suicide than on the battlefield. http://www.nytimes.c...roops.html?_r=0

So explain to me, just how being a soldier is somehow more inherently dangerous than other professions? I'm sure if I dig around, I can find a few civilian jobs that have a higher rate of fatalities in the line of work than service members.

So, moving along, let's discuss about personal experiences and feelings on the matters of military service.

I have been in the Army for just shy of 9 years. I joined because I was stuck working two dead end jobs and despite literally working myself into the ground, operating on little sleep and a diet of ramen noodles, kool aid, ephedra/caffeine pills, and Mountain Dew I could still never seem to get ahead. I was putting my health at risk, some of which still persists to this day (occasionally I experience chest pain, heart palpitations, as well as some unexplained nerve issues that now seem to fit long term effects of ephedra abuse that include problems regulating body temperature, sweating, and heartbeat). At the end of the year, when I filed for taxes, I realize that I had made only around $17,000, which was abysmal given the long hours I worked. I remember the stress of trying to figure out how to merely survive and how much I hated my current situation. I had blown my chance to go to college after I dropped out after 2 semesters to work and there were no chances I could afford to go back while supporting myself. I also had other obligations that I will not get into at this time, promises that I had made to the people closest to me, that I was slowly failing. Having grown up in a family that primarily served in the US military (primarily, the Army), I had always swore that I would never resort to joining the military, but when faced with the possibility of letting down those closest to me and not living up to my promises, I humbled myself, bowed my head, and went to the recruiting office to sign up. I figured anything had to be better than not living up to my promises and I figured that I would at least make more money, even if I was stuck working the same hours (which, as it turns out, isn't true. I make significantly more now and only rarely have to put in hours like I was working prior to the Army).

The Army I came in to was not the Army of today. You didn't get a free pass in, you had to earn it. The drill sergeants were there to antagonize you and many of them had made bets with the other drill sergeants as to how many people they could kick out before the end of the cycle. When we started, my 50 man bay was completely full, by the end of the 9 weeks of basic training, only about half of them were still full. The drill sergeants could be (and often were) overly cruel, with sessions of full chemical gear pt being held in the heated bay (it was February when I shipped to South Carolina, so, it was still snowing outside, so the heat was on inside). There were some drill sergeants that if you were within arms reach of them, meant they were going to grab you and slam you into whatever was nearby, be it the bunks, wall lockers, the wall, or even the floor. Was it illegal? Yes, even back then it was not permitted to lay hands on the trainees, but everyone was so afraid of making it through basic training, that not a single word was ever spoken of it. Although there were times, when basic training was almost enjoyable (like unarmed combatives and basic rifle marksmanship), for the most part it was a miserable experience and I remember thinking more than once to myself "You only need to put up with is for 4 years and then you're out".

My original job, while disappointingly was not what it was promised to be, was simple and I took some measure of pride in being able to do my job and do it well (I was told it was a computer networking job, but it turned out to actually be a telephone switch operator).

My first duty station was in Korea, which was the first time I had been out of the States. It was miserable too, having to be so far away from everything you know as familiar and everyone you care about it, but in time I would grow to appreciate the experience and would even come to enjoy it.

After that I was sent to Fort Hood, Texas in December 2005. By this point, my personal feelings about the military had changed, to a degree. I didn't outright hate the service and even considered the notion of reenlisting. I was excited and pushing for a chance to deploy, since in those days, those that hadn't were looked down upon as less of a soldier (although, not much has changed, despite it becoming more increasingly common to see more people without combat patches than with). Finally, in November 2006, I was given my first chance to deploy to Iraq. I was scared, naturally, with most of my understanding about war coming from second hand stories and movies. I had it in my head that we would be landing on an air strip in a C-130 while taking enemy fire in the heart of a battlefield. That I would be having to lay suppressive fire while running for cover. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

While yes, the threat of being killed or maimed always loomed over head, it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. We took gunfire (mostly indirect), we took rocket and mortar attacks as well every few days, but with enough time, these things became normal and garnered no more attention than the sight of a car accident. Most of us (myself included) adopted a very casual "If I did, I die" attitude over the whole situation...

A stray round that punched through the ceiling of my trailer, missing me by only about a foot or two to the right from where I was laying on my bed. I would bring it back with me as sort of a keepsake.

534690_10151184114838087_1867566506_n.jpg

196083_10151184116033087_346306820_n.jpg

Of course, there were instances when people were injured or killed around me, but that was expected when serving in a military at war. I had a few close brushes with rockets and mortars landing relatively close to me, to include a 240mm rocket attack on my camp.

I found some pictures of the attack here, not originally posted by me.

http://media.militar...tory,-Iraq-2007

In picture DSC03801, if you look to the top of the truck there is a sand colored building behind it, that was my building at the time and I was present during the attack.

The blast was so forceful, that it blew out all of the glass in my building that was facing towards the parking lot where the rocket landed. A steel door that faced the blast would also forever have a permanent bow outwards. Bits of sharpnel larger than quarters landed on and around my building and many of us thought that our building had been directly hit (because all the dust in the AC ducts had been knocked loose, so a thick plume of what appeared to be smoke started pouring from the ceiling mounted vents). It was also the first time that we had been hit with a munition of that size. During that deployment, I actually felt proud of what I was doing for my country and would eventually reenlist (well, that and because we got extended to a 15 month combat tour, so I was going to be stop lossed anyways). Point is, during the "Surge", it was probably one of the most tumultuous times to be in Iraq and I survived.

I would do another tour of Iraq in 2010, which was like the complete opposite of my first deployment. Other than the occasional fire fight (which, I can only think of one or two breaking out) and only one mortar attack, it was completely uneventful. It was just a year of being in a foreign country that was hot and miserable in the summer (with temperatures pushing 130) and cold, wet, and muddy in the winter. Another 12 months of combat I survived.

And now, I sit here, preparing for yet another deployment, this time to Afghanistan. I am not afraid and to be honest, I look forward to another deployment (as hard as it is to believe). Yet another upcoming 12 months of service in a combat zone, which will bring my grand total up to 39 months in a combat zone.

What are my feelings about it? Overall, I am proud of what I have done, what I have accomplished, not because of some sense of patriotism, but because I am providing for those that I love. I am providing a better life for others than what was provided for me and I am doing so because of the military. I have a skill set that is in high demand and because of the Army, I have many contacts that have offered me a job on the outside (some of them friends that got out of the service before me and got good jobs, some from civilians I worked along side throughout the years). I have had training that I would never have afforded as a civilian (such as VMWare, which the average class costs between $2,000 and $5,000) which also will set me up well for the outside. I am also just a few college credits away from a degree. I know I could leave the Army tomorrow and fall into a job that makes 6 figures, but I stay with the Army. Why? Because, when no one else was there, the Army was. The Army took me in and helped me take care of myself and those I love and in turn, made me a better person because of it.

Be warned, the deeper this goes, the more negative it may get...

Now, for the drawbacks of military service. Honestly, serving does change your mindset. I remember when I first arrived to basic training, one of the drill sergeants telling us that we would grow to despise civilians. I didn't believe it at first, but truth of the matter is, over time it would come to be true.

Why? Because civilians don't understand the blood, sweat, and tears that have been sacrificed to ensure that their way of life continues unchanged. They have a sense of entitlement and feel that they have the right to judge the military for doing what a military is expected to do. Truth be told, warfare is not a pretty thing. The sole purpose of a military is to attack and defend a nation from it's enemies. A profession based off of this, is inherently, an ugly thing. But civilians often times forget this and because of the fact that media coverage is everywhere these days, they can see the horrors of war from the safety of their homes. Furthermore, without experiencing much of this themselves, a lot of it is taken (I feel) out of context (which, is further aided by the bleeding heart of liberal media).

Nothing pisses me off quicker than a person who likes to think they understand what I have been through and what my organization is about without ever having served themselves. I truly feel that unless you have been there, unless you have served in a branch of the military and experienced things as I have, then keep your mouth shut. And the truth of the matter is, I feel that way regardless of whether what they say is positive or negative, because really, what right have they to make these determinations? I hate when civilians thank me for my service or tell me that they think that what we are doing is right, because it always feels like patronage, especially when they say "I support the troops, not the war". I hate it even more when people speak poorly about the military service, because, as I said before, unless you've had the balls to stand up and also join, what right do you have to comment on something that you know nothing about? What right do you have to judge those that have? And what makes you so self assured that you have any measure of understanding about what you're talking about?

I guess, in the end, all I can really say is this. After 11 years, we have had only 6,518 US service members die in the line of duty. I think, despite everyone's bemoaning about a "staggering death toll", that speaks tomes about the training and equipment that we have these days when you consider approximately 6,600 US service members died in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

So, in short, give it a rest about how "dangerous" military service is. Yes, there is a naturally inherent risk in the job, however, I don't perceive it as any greater of a risk than any other profession.

[/rant]

EDIT: Sorry, a lot of this may have been rehashed by others, but literally I've spent the day working on this post, so, early this morning I was the first to start responding...

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Fact is, joining the military isn't nearly that dangerous. Base jumping without a parachute is infinitely more dangerous, so it's not a good analogy.

I don't have any interest in fighting, or even really protecting king and country. Though the skills that I'll learn will help me protect those close to me, and that I do appreciate. As far as combat scenarios are concerned, I'm taking a calculated risk to avoid getting into a real battle, while still gaining the benefits of military work.

Well I am very happy to hear that *hugs*

Take good care of yourself

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So I have a question: Would getting a Bipolar and/or ADD diagnoses bar me from ever joining the military?

 

I'm pretty sure I have said disorders. I think I can deal with the Bipolar one, however hard it may be at times. But I am realizing that ADD maybe the cause for many of my problems in life, and has contributed to a general feeling of being disabled. I want medical help, but I don't want to never be able to join the military.

 

Just looking at all my options here.

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