My brother is joining the Marines.


So, my brother has decided to join the Marines. He’s about to turn 21, has a baby and a fiancee, and feels like joining the military is the best way to be able to provide for them. (They’re getting married before he goes in.)

I’ve been trying to explain to him that perhaps he should join a branch that doesn’t have such a high chance of shooting-and-getting-shot-at, but he seems adamant - mostly because he feels that 1) Marines pays better, therefore easier to provide for the family and 2) There’s a decent chance of him being stationed in nearby Fort Pendleton, so he’ll be able to stay in Cali.

He took the pre-ASVAB and got a 93%, which is pretty good. He’ll be taking the actual test on Friday.

Anyone have some advice to give him, both about the recruitment process and survival tips for the Marines in general?

None of our family has been in the military at all (except our grandfathers back in WW2), so we have zero idea what to expect.


He should understand going in that making it through boot camp will likely be the biggest challenge he’s ever faced. He’ll either make it, and stand proud at graduation, or he’ll wash out and be sent home. Drill Instructors do not accept excuses. He needs to keep his mouth shut, his ears open, and do what he’s told. He also needs to be in decent physical condition before going to boot camp. Good luck to him.

Best thing his family can do for him while he’s in boot camp? Mail. Lots of mail. From anybody, about anything. Seriously. Boot camp has very few pleasures, but mail call is one of them. It really sucks when everybody else gets mail and you don’t get anything.


You sure about that?

LOL yeah, I’m sure :smiley:

His information regarding pay is just, well wrong. Pay is the same across the services much like it is in regular government sector jobs. Enlisted men pay is ranked from E-1 trough E-8 and corresponds with rank. I’m former Army so I can’t tell you much about the marines other than that I seriously question that the Marines is the most stable of deployments for a new father.

If this is his motivation, tell him that the first is untrue and the second is unlikely. There are positions that offer incentive pay, but an E-3 is an E-3 across the board. Also, a brand-new enlisted guy never, ever gets to pick where they go. The odds of getting Camp Pendleton are very low unless he gets a job that is limited to a few bases, with Pendleton among them.

As far as “survival” goes, do exactly what you are told to do when you are told to do it and as quickly as possible. Do remind him that there have been millions of Marines, and if they can make it through he can as well. Good luck to him.

The Marines certainly don’t pay better. The common rank for the Army is Specialist, E4. It takes a bit more to get to E5. In the Marines, it’s E3 and it takes a bit to get to E4 (so say some Marine comrades).

And I wouldn’t count on getting to Camp Pendleton.

ETA: If it’s money he’s looking for, I’d recommend the Army or the Air Force. They train people better for life after the military. I rarely hire people in my field from the Navy or Marines as they don’t usually have the skills we’re looking for. After the Army, you’re well set up for a career doing the same thing for 3 times as much. But maybe that’s just my field. Tell him to consider what job he wants and to make that his top priority for picking a branch. Tell him to consider what skill he wants to have after the military.

Marines get paid much, much less than the Army. I don’t understand why he would think otherwise. In the Army, you can enter at a higher rank (higher pay), get promoted faster (more pay, sooner), and they have much higher signing and reenlistment bonuses!
Who the hell has told him any different?

The part about “a branch less likely to be shot at” is ridiculous. His job is what matters, not his branch. But The Marines, won’t garuntee his job. I don’t think his “chance” at getting stationed at Pendleton should factor into his decision at all. It’s not really much of a chance, now is it? In the Army, he can have his first duty stationed AND his job (pick something safe, like X-Ray technitian) garunteed before he ever ships off.

I’m all for him joining any service. Doesn’t matter to me. But just make sure he’s doing it for the right reasons! He couldn’t be more misinformed!

One guess–a Marine Recruiter.


Didn’t we have one poster here who’s a recruiting officer? I haven’t seen him for a while…

Yeah, I think it’s Sgt Schwartz? But he’s an Army guy, I think, and seems pretty straightforward and honest, so he’d say he doesn’t do this. And I’d believe him. However, there are other recruiters and other services, and they’re not necessarily so scrupulous.

California has more military bases than possibly any state in the Union. It’s not like Camp Pendleton is the only one. That shouldn’t really be an issue.

The military these days is a Family Organization™, so generally speaking it is a good way to provide for your family. A steady paycheck, built-in “community” structure, great healthcare & dental plan, all these things (and more) make the military popular for people with families. But the Marine Corps isn’t exactly the best way to go. Marines are all about “Mission First, welfare of the troops second”.

If he wants to bring honor to his family, then Marines are the way to go. That’s what they primarily offer. Stable, quality of life for the family, not necessarily so. That’s not to rag on the Marine Corps, as there are plenty of good reasons to join, and there are thousands of careerists who’ve raised happy families there. But if his primary motivation is for his family, I would pick another branch, unless he really wants to be a Marine, and if so, more power to him. But providing-wise, I’d really recommend one of the other branches.

Here’s a couple of good message boards that have excellent information for relatives:

The biggest problem for Marine recruits is probably the job guarantee. My son joined about two years ago, but didn’t make it thru boot camp because of a bad reaction to the multiple inoculations. He found out that since he wouldn’t graduate with his original class, the job guarantee was void and he would probably wind up in Humvee in Afghanistan instead of the school he was promised. (The Marines were desperate at the time to fill combat positions.) The same thing happened to a recruit he knew that got hurt during the last day of training (the Crucible). Any recruit has a much better chance of getting the training and job that he wants in any of the other branches, IMHO.

When I joined the Air Force all those many years ago I went in under a contracted job. Meaning that if for some reason, as long as it wasn’t my fault, the Air Force could not give me my job, then I’d be allowed to separate without any penalties.

Yeah, that was me. I think I got 2 letter in boot camp, both from the same friend. :frowning:

But clue him in on one thing. All branches get paid the same, so its not like Marines make more money than the comparative ranks in the Air force or Army.

As Ivylad discovered after he joined the Navy…

recruiters lie.

I applaud what your brother is trying to do, but he needs to make sure he gets stuff IN WRITING.

All base pay across the board is equivalent. However, the Army has much higher signing bonuses and allow you to come in as high as E-4. Try that in the Marines.
An E-2 coming in the Army could get a 20-30 thousand dollar signing bonus, plus will be promoted automatically within 6 months or so. Does the Marine Corps even offer signing bonuses? I bet a Marine recruiter would say your bonus is that you get to be a Marine. . .

You say that like its a BAD thing!

Echoing a bit that was said upstream by Doors, when things are tough at Boot Camp, and they will be, a good thing to think of is just how many people have accomplished what is facing him, and how he is no worse than they were, he can do it, too. That probably goes for all the services’ Boot Camps, to a lesser or greater degree. Marines are best dressed, best brainwashed, and for a West Coast recruit who ends up with a “common” MOS (job description) he stands a decent chance of being stationed on the West Coast, which is more likely than not Camp Pendleton. No guarantees, the “Needs Of The Corps” outweigh the individual’s desires at all times.

Judging by the very experienced responses here it sounds like your brother is being lied to fairly blatantly. Stop him from signing anything until all data is confirmed.

It really depends on his personality and what his goals are. There is honor in being a Marine. My younger brother was basically forced into it when he was a little younger than yours and came out a very, very different person in the best way possible and is a very admirable family man these days. It isn’t an easy thing to do though and pretty hard-core. He says it was the best thing that ever happened to him except for having his kids but ‘pleasant’ isn’t a word that people usually choose to describe the Marine Corps experience. I would choose the Air Force personally because the job skills are somewhat transferable, they have tons of really high-tech stuff, their bases and resources are known for being fairly cushy, and the chance of getting seriously killed isn’t all that high. Like any job, it depends on what the best fit is for him though. Some people really want the chance to be front-line soldiers. The chance of getting killed or permanently injured in any branch of the service is still fairly low these days even with two wars going on relatively speaking.