Joining the U.S. Military

Is it a bad time to join, or should I wait until after the elections? Or is it just really a bad choice over-all in these times? Or is it a good choice? Or what!!?

Every time I tell someone I am joining they call me an idiot (not that I actually am or anything :rolleyes:).

I don’t want to make a mistake.

Full disclosure: I’m a vet, so I’m biased.

Joining the military can be a great thing for some people. It can be a disaster for others. Some people just can’t cut it. If you can handle it, you’ll benefit from the experience in more ways than you can imagine.

Yes, there is some risk. There’s risk in anything you do in life.

The military will teach you discipline, instill confidence, and give you some time to figure out if you want to make a career of it, or serve your hitch and then pursue other things as a civilian. I’m glad I served. Hell, if I’d stayed in, I’d have retired this month, and have a pension and free medical care for life.

Do you support the current non-wars in which the U.S. is involved?

You will be risking your life; you should support current U.S. military involvements and foreign policy.

That ain’t what military service is about. Soldiers do not make policy. They carry it out. If you raise your right hand and take the oath, you’re committed. Administrations change. Wars come and go. The military remains, ready to serve as needed.

No, but soldiers do, in a sense, enforce some aspects of governmental policy. Whether you need to/should agree with it to do that is, IMO, a decision someone needs to make on their own.

A friend of mine is in the military (reserves or guard, I forget which). He loathes it, says it’s the greatest collection of chuckleheads you could possibly imagine, got screwed over by his recruiter and various others and now has a couple extra years of service, and is counting the days until he gets out. He also has an easy-as-hell job - he plays the trombone in some band, part time. Still hates it.

Another friend is currently in training to be an officer in the Army. So far he’s happy with his choice, and he joined because he wanted to serve. He likes the people he’s working with, he feels he’s getting top-notch training, and other than the obvious complaints from basic training and occasional ongoing drudge work, he says the military is working out very well for him.

My sister is an officer in the Air Force and she has mixed feelings. She’s said that you’re never short of bullshit to put up with, but you also get some great opportunities, so it’s really what you make of it. She could be making a bit more money in the private sector, but she got paid by the military to go to college, so she still comes out on top. Are there parts of it that she dislikes? Yes. Are there parts of it she enjoys? Yes.

So…my (wholly unqualified) advice is think about it, a lot, before signing over any years of your life. Do lots of research, try to talk to people in the service that you’re looking at. Consider why you’re considering joining, and weigh whether or not you could get those same opportunities other ways. List out the benefits of joining vs not, and talk it over with people you trust.

Also, really, do your research. If a recruiter tells you something, before you let it influence you at all, verify with another source that it’s true. And then if you do decided to join, make sure that everything you were promised is in the final contract before you sign it. Friend #1 made the mistake of not verifying everything and not totally understanding the contract before he signed, and you do not want to get screwed the way he has.

The US is in a non-war war and hurting for troops. I don’t know if the leash is tight enough to ensure troops get adequate training before being shipped out (for those who are) but you should at least entertain the notion that this will require a level of commitment, time and self-deprivation higher than what you may have been told. Depending, among other things, on the upcoming election, the Iraq occupation may extend for a very long time. Troops will be recycled as fast as possible.

Being a member of the military force of a country is not inherantly bad, but it brings extraordinary risks. Do you feel the risks of being wounded, mutilated, killed and potentially losing friends in the corps to the same outweighs the benefit of personal growth, serving your country, the pay and benefits as well as the advantages having been part of the military in your later, civillian life? If you do, then you should not enlist. Or at least reconsider, or wait until you know the realpolitikal situation US troops will face in the future.

And if you do enlist, what branch are you interested in serving in? Could I convince you to consider the medics? Accross the board, US, british and Norwegian, medics are the most respected, most treasured and, in Iraq, most empowered to do objective “Good” branch in the army. An additional benefit of this will be a head start on a good carreer, later in life. And you will be saving lives.

Get off my lawn! If I had stayed in I would have retired this month last year.


That said, I loved the ARMY. Sometimes I feel like getting out was the biggest mistake. I was set with a slot at the Q-Course but turned it down to go to college. Now I am pretty successful with a nice house and a beautiful wife and son, BUT I often catch myself reminiscing and wishing for the good old days. Looking back even the year in Iraq doesn’t seem that bad.

But, my advice is to wait and see if Obama wins and see what the military is doing. Right now it is stretched thin and the lowered enlistment standards probably make for an unhealthy and less than optimal experience. Bottom line I generally would recommend the Military to anyone, just not right now. Not because of increased danger in war time but the type of danger is pointless. Who wants to stand around a war torn city and wait for the next suicide bomber or mortar strike or worse an IED that you can’t do anything about?

SrA RandMcnally
USAF 2004-2008

I think the military can be good for a lot of people. Like said above, you get out what you put in. No one expected me to do well in the military. I’m really quiet, shy, etc and I ended up flying in a helicopter over Iraq. One of the things the military taught me is no never question your ability to do something, you’ll surprise yourself more than anyone else.

But if you’re thinking about joining after the election because you’re afraid to go to Iraq, then I don’t think you should join at all. There is no one I have less respect for than someone who joins in order to get college money or something and then gets all upset because they’re going to deploy. Remember: it doesn’t matter one damn bit if you’re in favor of the war or not. You are to do your job and as long as your orders are legal, to follow them to the utmost ability.

Do I personally think we should be there? It doesn’t matter what I think. I’m to do my job despite my personal opinions.

And when you’re over there the ''Is this war just?" questions go out the window. All you care about is keeping your buddies alive and making sure they’re able to go home.

If you have any specific questions about the Air Force in general I’d be happy to ask.

And sorry for my tangent. I just hate when I hear people bitch about deploying because “all they wanted was money about college.” I’m not saying you’d do that or that you’re any less dedicated, sorry if it came out that way.

This is ONE of the many concerns I have. My recruiter states that when someone joins the ARMY they are GUARANTEED their job that they have chosen. Can anyone else stand by this?

I agree, but before you join you certainly should ask yourself if you support the current non-war. If you are in, I agree you have no business questioning policy. I served in Iraq despite my personal feelings about the reasons behind it. I certainly would not have joined if it had been happening at the time.

Read the fine print. They have a general escape clause reads something like “Unless the Department of Defense determines a shortage in another field…” I was guaranteed assignment to an Airborne unit in Italy, along with thirty other guys. Long story short, only me and three other guys in the group got to enjoy jumping out of planes helicopters and balloons in Europe the others ended up as ground pounders in Kentucky…No Airborne School, No RANGER School, No HOT European chicks, No fun at all…

All right, you are misinterpreting my concerns. To be honest, I’d love being apart of a war to rid the world of scum. I’m not afraid of anything and don’t care about the money. I want to serve a good cause and get some good training and just have something to do. I’m more worried about all this conspiracy shit going around, and there is no proof it is only a conspiracy. If I ever end up have to carry out orders of martial law it would be quite daunting. I’m just trying to think outside the box a little.

Spare me. All rhetoric aside, when one joins the military, one supports existing actions and policies. As one remains in the military, ditto.

“Take the Queen’s shilling, do the Queen’s work” is a warning as much as an exhortation.

That’s an opinion. One probably held by a civilian. You’re entitled to it. Just never forget that without guys like me, you might not be so free to express that opinion.

spare me. I served and I have the same opinion. Before you join you have an obligation to decide if you support the current actions of the military if not you shouldn’t. The last thing people in the military need is soul searching on the battlefield.

That’s just silly. Bravery is not the lack of fear but the fortitude to persevere in spite of fear. If you do join you will learn this if you are lucky enough to serve in a Combat Arms position. Many REMFS never learn it though…

BTW what conspiracy are you concerned about?

No, you spare me…whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.

Soldiers soldier. One can chose a military career without supporting current political policy. As I noted above, policies change. You may love the policy in effect today, wake up in the morning and find yourself shipping out to East Yakistan to spread love and napalm among the locals. You may hate the policy in effect today, but tommorrow the next Hitler touches off WWIII, and you’re all fired up and ready to go.

The operative question is do you want to be a soldier, or don’t you.

Ok. That’s actually a reasonable point of view.

If you want good training and you want to do something don’t join the Army. The US Army is hurting so badly for bullet sponges right now that you won’t get enough training to do your job, much less anything you could apply in the civilian world. I can’t speak to any of the other services, but the Army has made vast sacrifices in quality of its troops in order to build numbers.

Ya, it’s sad they actually have to use bribes in order to get new soldiers. This kind of defeats the purpose of being a ‘soldier’. Being a soldier should be a offering, not an acquisition.

Thinking about this is kind of swaying my decision. I don’t want to be out in the field with some prick who took a bounty for a job and doesn’t really want to be there.