With a history that dates back to before the United States was a fully recognized nation, its military, a militia at first, paved the way to statehood. For that entire history, parents have fretted the risks associated with military service, men and women have strived to serve with honor and distinction, and the world has benefitted from their meritorious actions. Enlisting in the military brings with it a steady paycheck, a surefire way to gain life and leadership skills, and a membership to an elite club of some of the nation's brightest and bravest citizens.
For these reasons and others, most parents can look past their initial concerns as their child honorably serves, receives paid training, and is molded into the adult that their parent had hoped they would be.
Military service is not for everybody, so if considering enlisting in the armed forces, it is to your benefit to research your options and the individual branches before you sign on the dotted line and raise your right hand.
First Things First
If you are only starting to toy with the idea of joining the military, the natural first step is to consider what the military will ask of you. Especially in basic training or boot camp (same thing with different names based on the branch of service), you are guaranteed early wake-ups and late nights often. Physical fitness is a key for the service, and though you may not be at pique conditioning today, you need to be prepared to reach a point of fitness by the time you head off to training. Finally, though the chances are not as high as Hollywood movies would seem to indicate, you need to acknowledge that regardless of the job you have in the military, you may end up injured or killed one day. That is the ugly truth of joining "the profession of arms."
Picking The Right Military Service To Join
If you are ready for the challenges and dangers of military service, the next step is figuring out which branch to join. Each of the service components (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) tend to have their specialties, pros, and cons. So you need to take some time and consider where you may want to end up seeing yourself in the next couple of years. Look at where you may be based within the United States or abroad. A website like this one:
Also, and even more importantly, you need to decide what you want to do in the military. Not everyone is G.I. Joe, but everyone has a role to play. The military is a great way to receive training in a skillset that can secure your future. Many servicemembers gain training in computer, radar, nuclear, aviation, or automotive technologies and then, after serving, gain employment in those fields as civilians.
What To Expect When Talking With a Military Recruiter
There is no way to enlist without speaking with a recruiter for the service you want to join. Recruiters are your first real chance to interact with a servicemember in that branch. Before you contact them or respond to them after they contact you, know the things listed above. If you are in a rush to join the military, you need to prepare a backup job or two, as your first choice may not be available for some time. If you can wait, do not feel like you have to take whatever position a recruiter offers you.
There is wisdom in waiting because recruiters can sometimes work within the system if they worry they may lose out on recruiting you. In some circumstances, recruiters can work it out to get you the job they first said was unavailable or sweeten the deal on your second choice. Look at the recruitment process as a time to learn and work on your negotiation skills. Be sure to ask about bonuses and the potential of putting a specialty school into your enlistment contract, such as airborne school, if you are looking at the Army for your branch of service.
How To Tell Your Parents That You Want To Join
Many men and women have gone before you, and the first hurdle was to tell their mom or dad. If you believe your parents will ultimately support your decision, that is an easy win. If you think you may need to "sell" your parents on your choice to enlist, there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, your parents have spent close to twenty years loving you, raising you, teaching you, and providing for you. That is great, but it also means that they rightly have emotional ties to you that run deep.
The idea that you would volunteer to one day be in harm's way is terrifying to many parents. Parents want to know that you are looking before you leap, and your eyes are open to the realities of what military service entails. For that reason, you will likely have a lot more positive response if you know the service branch you want to join, which job you are looking at, where you might be assigned, and most importantly to most parents, how it will benefit your future.
The Benefits Of Military Service
The benefits are both tangible and intangible in the military. The intangibles are the pride, honor, and distinction that comes with putting on the uniform. The tangibles are often the selling points for a lot of parents and service members.
How Much Do You Get Paid While Serving In The US Military
For instance, your pay will increase every two years for the duration of time you are in the military service. Military salary is also annually adjusted to ensure that it keeps up with inflation and does not exceed or fall below a level of pay in the private sector. For the current pay scales in the military, you can visit a website such as:
Financial Benefits Of Military Service Beyond Weekly Pay
Your base pay also does not include other payments you may be entitled to that help to subsidize food, uniforms, or housing. Furthermore, the military offers a lot of additional money to help pay for your college education or trade certifications. All of these financial factors, including provided healthcare, can also help to soften your parent's view on military service.
Training, Confidence, and Other Benefits Of Serving In the Military
The overhaul of a person’s character and personal attributes is one of the benefits of military service. Many have entered the military plagued by timidity, doubtfulness, or a fear of being “put on the spot.” After a period of service, whether two years or twenty, many leave the military as lions. All service members are expected to conduct themselves by a measure of pride, a warrior ethos, and the best of human character traits.
The military’s strong emphasis on self-improvement has the intended effect of forming an individual into a leader that serves well in the military and eventually in the civilian sector. This bears itself out in confidence that is fostered from the moment a person arrives at basic training.
How Does Bootcamp Work
Though every branch in the military has its spin on basic training, or “boot camp”, the fundamentals remain the same. Upon reception, the place you initially arrive, you can expect a lot of programmed in chaos. Drill sergeants, or drill instructors, will introduce consistency of pressure in all of your activities. All events are timed, including, eating, showering, shaving, sleeping, etc. Throughout the weeks of basic training, which vary by service component, you will learn the specific set of basic skills inherent to your branch of service. Swimming is a component for the Marines and Navy, but not included for the Army or Air Force. Whereas more time is focused on skills related to military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) for Army recruits. Across all components, basic training is the first rite of passage, and a time to mentally, emotionally, and physically build up service members.
How To Get a Job In The Military That You Want
The military is quite large and with such depth in its ranks and missions comes a lot of different job types. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) governs all occupations in the military at least in part. The higher your ASVAB score, the more opportunities that are open to you. For instance, if you were looking to join the Navy to be a nuclear technician your ASVAB score would need to be higher than if you were looking to join the Army to be an infantryman. There are options for ASVAB practice tests that can help you to see where you might score. In the end, know the job(s) you want and ask your recruiter what ASVAB score you would need to qualify.
Where You Can Learn What Being in The Military Is Like Without Joining
If you are interested in getting a taste of the military experience, you might consider joining a JROTC or ROTC program. JROTC programs are run at some high schools, though fewer have them than their ROTC counterparts at the college level. These programs can begin to instill discipline and military drills into your daily life. Scouting organizations can help to teach you some of the outdoor knowledge that may be helpful based on the job you choose. Depending on your service, time in JROTC, ROTC, or some scouting programs can entitle you to faster promotions than civilians who have no experience in those organizations. There are state, and non-state, militias that exist as well. However, these tend to lack the funding, discipline, authenticity, or authority to be recognized by the United States military as pipelines into service. Generally, these have no standing in the military's view, and thereby whatever experience you may gain in them is likely to be moot when being recruited.
The Final Step
Hopefully, with full parental support, as much research as you can gather, and a good recruiter, the time will come to enlist. Your recruiter can walk you through the details of what that day will look like, as it will vary a little based on your branch and where you are enlisting. Once you sign your contract and take your oath of enlistment, it is just a matter of time until you head to your first place of training. Go there with an open mind, a closed mouth, and a body as physically prepared as you can get it, and that will be the first of many challenging but fun memories you will have of your time in the military.