What risks/benefits are there to joining the military

This is just brainstorming at this point, but what benefits are there to joining the military? Do they outweight the risks? It seems like it might be a place to get training for a good job or a good life experience, but if its at the expense of 90 hour workweeks and the psycholgoical trauma of combat I don’t know if its worth it.

I know almost nothing about the military. What risks/benefits are there in joining a reserve unit instead of enlisting entirely?

I have some physical defects however. A bad left knee, bad calves (to the point where I can’t really run more than 1/2 mile a day. My cardiovascular system can handle it but my calves cannot), and I am obese by BMI charts. However I am in pretty good condition cardiovascularly and athletically. Would I be able to function in the military?

There are a lot of benefits to joining the military. The tangibles include a steady paycheck, travel, housing and food, and a relatively easy life.

That said, it is physically and mentally challenging. When you’re deployed, you’re under the emotional strain of being separated from your loved ones. You’re under the physical strain of possibly extreme conditions, lack of sleep, and the mental stress of wondering if today’s when you’re going to get your ass shot off.

That being said, you’ve got a long way to go before a recruiter will even talk to you. Most branches have strict weight standards that go by pounds, not by BMI. Once you hit your target weight, you’re in, but if you’re so much as a pound over their charts, forget it. (I am not kidding. One pound kept me out of the Air Force.) There are also physical requirements. They want pretty much physically perfect, healthy specimens. The inability to meet their physical standards will also keep you out.


I’m not sure if you’re physically up to it. A recruiter could tell you, but be aware that they have to meet a monthly quota for warm bodies. If the one you’re talking to is desperate, he’ll tell you anything to get you to show up. If you wash out, it doesn’t count against his record (source: my wife, a 10-year vet who worked at a MEPS and had to process recuits.)

If you’re worried about getting shot at, try the Navy. Long rides on big boats for you.

As for benefits, it depends on how long you’re going to stay in, and what kind of benefits are in place. If you’re looking for money for college, they’ll foot part of the bill. If you’re looking for training and are willing to stay in for four years, they’ll train you. One of my brothers went in and received and education in electronics that translated into a job on the outside.

If you hang on for 20 years, you’ll be out on a pension that, while it won’t make you rich, can support you while you look for something else to do. Put it this way, if I had gone into the Navy at 18, I would have been out at 38, still in my prime, with a nice cushion of cash to fall back on. Not too shabby.

After that, the bennies is based on the luck of the draw. My wife did tours in Norfolk, Va. (decent), Charlotte, NC (horrible), and Pearl (fantastic). If you find yourself in a military community, you’re at least among people who understand what you’ve been through – they’re in the same boat. Placed among a civilian community, you stand out, and that can get pretty lonely.

On the other hand, I had an uncle who went to Korea during the “police action,” which he has never talked about, so it could be worse.

Upside: training, travel, conditioning

Downside: poor pay, no respect, getting shot at.

How bad is the knee? Recruiters visit my classes regularly, and they have stressed that major problems will keep you from enlisting.

I know a few recruiters. One of the biggest problems they have is recruits who can’t get past the physical. The doctors they use are civilians and they can be a pain in the ass. One recruit that was supposed to come to my unit got booted out for excess acne. Having bad knees is a bad sign. They usually require further tests for broken bones that have completely healed. Don’t get too far into this until you find out if you meet the minimum requirements.

By the military, do you mean the US Army specifically? And what do you think you want to do in the armed forces? Are you considering enlisting, or commissioning as an officer?

For some reason, the O-10 paygrade seems right for you. Can’t put my finger on it though.

Pro: You get to go back to your home town after training and resume “normal” life. You may also split Basic/Advanced training so you’re back home even sooner. Plus while on drill/training duty you may be involved in community-oriented projects.

Con: For 8 years, you are subject to being mobilized and deployed on short notice all the way to Yagottabejokinstan, and the deployment can be extended, thus seriously interrupting “normal life”. And the Reserves are now to be used as a matter of course in any major sustained operations.

Pro: Not all deployments are to Yagottabejokinstan, and you may actually be doing something like building childrens’ hospitals in some lush tropical island.

Con: Or, elsewhere in Yagottabejokinstan. Pack flea powder.

Pro: You’re still serving your country and expressing a willingness to put your arse on the line if called upon, which more than the bulk of the population can be bothered with.

Con: That “putting your arse on the line” bit. While activated, people may try to kill you violently, and the pay is NOT impressive for something that involves being shot at. And since you train with deadly devices, accidents happen.

Pro: You may be eligible for tech training, specialty bonuses, and education aid.

Con: Your choice of training and specialty is limited to those billets available at a unit where you’re able and willing to get to on a regular basis.

Pro: You can accrue Veterans benefits and a pension.

Con: You don’t get these until after satisfactory completion of service, and in the case of the pension, not only do you have to be in 20 years and get a smaller one (having been a part-timer), you have to wait 'til you reach civilian “retirement age” to start collecting.

Con: Depending on your unit/specialty, you may be stuck for long times at a lower rank.

Pro: However this means you can stay for a longer time doing what is your real job, rather than be “promoted” into staff billets you don’t care for.

If your physical condition absolutely precludes running >a half mile a day, you may have trouble. The “lightest” services require you to be able to complete a 1.5 mile run in a fixed period of time before the end of Basic Training. OTOH if a physical condition is such that it can be corrected thru treatment or training, and you can be get yourself to the point they consider that you can stand their training, they may have a look at you.