What should I know before I talk to a Marine recruiter?

I’m a junior in highschool, and I’m seriously considering signing up for the Marine Reserves once I graduate. I’m thinking of something along the lines of 4 years active and then 4 years reserve. Besides not to sign anything, what should I know? Do I have any choice in where I would be stationed?

Also I would really love to hear from any SDMB Marines.

IANA marine, but…

A guy I know wrote me from boot camp a while back, and I quote:
“man, this shit aint at all as fun as it looked in the video”

Ex-Air Force, myself, but I can help with the recruiter questions.

He wants you to join and he will talk up the good points of service. Most recruiters don’t actually lie, but they can put one hell of a spin on things.

Your job in the service is not guaranteed unless it is in writing on your contract. If you can get a guaranteed job, get one and get it in writing. That’s the most important advice I can give you.

Jobs in the military are sort of determined by your test scores at MEPS, but the military has a strange way of interpreting the results. If you don’t have a guaranteed job waiting for you, they may put you in the first slot that comes up and matches your abilities according to your test scores. So, if you are suited to be a computer programmer, but also suited to be a supply clerk or a cook, you may be a Marine with programming abilities working his way up to managing a mess hall. Once you’ve put a little time in, it is possible to cross-train to a different career field.

You do not have absolute choice of where you are stationed. You can fill out a dream sheet and specifiy your picks of where you want to be stationed, but it is not guaranteed. For example, you can say you would like to be stationed in 1) Georgia, 2) Eastern US, 3) California, 4) Europe, 5) Alaska or some such thing. You can specify bases, states, regions, etc…

When it comes time to fill the manning slots, they see that they need 10 marines of a certain rank in a certain career field at a certain base. The requirement goes to the manning and personnel department and the check the database. Of the marines at that rank and in that career field that made picks matching that base and are available for re-assignment, they pick 10. If there aren’t 10, they start pulling marines that match everything except the dream sheet and send them. It’s a little hard to explain.

You can tell them what you’d prefer and they will try to give it to you. But if they need you somewhere else, you will get the orders. You can refuse an assignment, but it pretty much says you are not going to re-enlist And they can still tell you to go.

None of this is absolute, but it’s true most of the time.

I enjoyed my time in the service, and I got sent places I didn’t want to go. Except for one assignment, I ended up enjoying the places anyway. Never did get anything on my dream sheet.

As for the reserves, it can be a good way to go but you have to realize that the elder Bush kinda changed the rules. Reserve and National Guard units deploy much more often than their name suggests.

Still, the military has wonderful education benefits and great job skills training. You will learn more than you could imagine and have more fun than you would think.

Don’t lock yourself into anything. Take what he says with a grain of salt. Better yet, see it in writing.

do you think if i listed overseas locations i would be more likely to get them? because most people probably want to be stationed in the U.S?

half of the reason i want to enlist is to get out of Maryland and experience something different

the other half is that i need money for college

what if i’m in college and i get called off reserves? am i expected to just drop everything and go?

could you give me a list of countries in which i could potentionally be stationed?

thanks :slight_smile:

Iraq. Korea.

You might also want to take a look at what kind of casualties different branches of the military sustain. The marine slogan, “Semper Fi, Do or Die” comes to mind.

It used to be the case that the Marines specifically had lower criteria for joining up. They’d take just about anyone. I don’t know if this is still the case, but it might be worth your while to investigate other branches of the Armed Services as well.

The Armed services DO offer some nice bennies. But take a look at what’s going on in the world around you. There are deployed reservists who have been away from home for a year now. The US wants to sign you up as potential cannon fodder. Keep that in mind when you’re weighing the benefits.

Good luck! and DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!

daughter of a jarhead

You’d better believe it. My brother was an officer in the Army reserve while he was in college and law school. He got orders to go to some kind of training for nine months, which coincided with a whole semester of law school. He had to miss that whole semester, and part of another one, because of that training.

Orders have the force of law, and as such, are not negotiable. If you get deployment orders, you can’t say, “Well, gee, I’m in the middle of the semester, can we postpone this till December?” You go when they tell you to go. On the plus side, the school has to keep your place open. You’ll graduate late, but you’ll graduate.

If you’re doing this to earn money for college, consider the National Guard. In Pennsylvania, you get free tuition to any state university, plus Guard pay, plus a GI Bill stipend. You’re still subject to deployment, however, and some units go just as often as a regular unit.


i’m not exactly amped about possibly being deployed into combat

but i want to travel, and i want to go to a good college, and this sounds like the best/fastest way to accomplish that

i figure if i go in when i’m 18, i’ll be out by 22

time i probably would have wasted hammered at frat parties :slight_smile:

A Marine can get stationed:
[ul][li] East Coast[/li][li] West Coast[/li][li] Okinawa[/li][li] Hawaii (if you’re lucky)[/li][li] Misc. (e.g. 8th & I; recruiting; embassy duty)[/li][li] War zone[/ul][/li]If you want to see the world, then the Marines are not what you are looking for. If you want to know that you serviced with the best then join the Marines. Marine boot camp is hell, pure and simple, but then anything worthwhile has its price.

That’s from a Marine.

ALL RECRUITERS LIE!, IF IT IS NOT IN WRITING IT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!, military life can be fun (former Army here).

good luck


Just remember that quite a few of the folks in Iraq now just signed up for the college money and maybe the chance to travel. Realize that you may go into combat. You’re in the military.

Do not allow yourself to be rushed. Take your darned time. If there’s any pressure of the “sign now or the next class in [specialty] will not be until next year” type, then say “seeya next year”.

And prepare for pressure. These guys are master salesmen and they want to close that deal – besides, high numbers of good recruits = career progress.

BTW, 4 + 4 (active + reserve) is the norm. The 4 years in reserve may be all with a drilling unit, all in inactive “ready” reserve, or a combination thereof and yes, those 4 years they own you. You gotta drop everything. Some states (like here) have had to pass additional servicemen’s protection statutes upon facing these long mobilizations.

However, once you take into account the risks, it IS a great way to set yourself up to enter college with some real-world real-pressure experience, plus money, under your belt.

  1. WARNING! Something in Basic Training makes a man want to get married. Both my brothers, fresh out of boot camp, got married to women they divorced within a year.

  2. Something about Marine life makes a tattoo nearly mandatory. I know no Marines without a bulldog or globe-and-fouled-anchor permanently imprinted somewhere.

  3. Though the military discourages use of illegal drugs, tens of thousands of young men had their first drug experiences in uniform.

While that was true at one time, in more recent history other branches of the service had to lower their acceptance criteria in order to be able to get enough recruits to meet (or get closer to) quota. GEDs were accepted instead of diplomas, for instance. The Marines never had to lower their standards, and generally has better attainment of recruiting goals. This was about six years ago, I think the other services are doing better now on recruiting.

AskNott, I am a tattoo-less jarhead, but I am in the minority, I’d say.

Ask a lot of questions. Take the test and see what you qualify for. There are a lot of MOS’s that you might find pretty cool. Where you can get stationed depends in part on what MOS you choose. There aren’t a lot of USMC bases though, but you can list your preferred order of where you want to be, East coast, West coast, overseas. If you want to get some travel in, look into aviation. You’ll get some good in-country travel now and then to bases of other services, occasional out-of-country travel to the same and the occasional ship cruise for 6 months with a lot of cool ports. Overseas bases are Iwakuni and Fuji, Japan and Futenma and Butler, Okinawa. Also Hawaii, if you want to count that as being overseas.

After a while, if you are sharp, you can try for embassy duty. If you get on that, you can go anyplace where there is an embassy. I had a few friends who went on it, and they loved it.

Taking the test doesn’t obligate you, and you can even take your test score to other services if you are curious to see what type of work you can get. When you look at MOS’s, ask questions. Some may sound really cool, but could be work that you don’t want. An Irrigation Systems Design Engineer could be a ditchdigger. Most recruiters will be honest with you about jobs as long as you ask them, although they may be a bit sugar coated.

Good luck and good choice:)

Well, just a navy brat here, but keep in mind that you can die. Also you can get parts of your body blown off. With the US mucking around in Iraq and other places currently, it might not be the best time for the “money for college”.

Loans are safer.

If you don’t want to be a soldier/marine/airman/sailor don’t join the service. You won’t be doing you or anyone else any favors!

This doesn’t mean you have to be “amped” about going into combat, but if the possibility is a problem, go find something else to do.

Former Marines may disagree, but the one thing you should know before joining the Marines is that you should really join the Air Force instead. Boot camp is better, the training tends to be more technical, and more easily translated into civilian applications. The bases are in better areas, you won’t spend months out at sea, and when you leave the service you’ll be more like a civilian than a military nut. Just my opinion of course.

I never joined any branch of the armed forces, but I did talk to a Navy recruiter once. I expressed an interest in learning about what opportunities the US Navy had. All I ever said I wanted was information. I said that to my parents. I said that to the recruiter.

The recruiter made me take a test to find out my proficiencies.

After looking at the test, he REALLY put the pressure on me to join the Navy Nuclear Science program. When I say he put the pressure on, he went on an all out, no holes barred sales rampage. He tried everything to get me to go take a physical examination in Detriot.

But I stayed the course and told him I just wanted information.

I ended up not joining the Navy.

I later found out that the Navy Nuclear Science Program is for people who go on submarines… which is really NOT for me. I also found out that at the physical you can take your oath of admission into the service… and that they really pressure you there to do that too.

All in all, I think that the armed forces are a good thing for someone who doesn’t necessarily know what he wants to do, for learning some great job skills, and for earning money for college. But they are not for me.

FWIW, I hope this helps you.

What Mukluk said.

You are signing up for a job that may require you to get shot at. The travel and other benefits may be attractive, but don’t forget that if you get deployed where there’s fighting, it won’t be optional; you will have to go. Personally, I’ve got a suspicion there’s going to be more fighting in the next few years.

Then you shouldn’t join the service, and you certainly shouldn’t join the marines.

You have to remember the military is all about combat and preparing for combat. Nearly everyone else that you’re working with in the military will be amped about combat. Your job duties won’t be geared toward giving you travel opportunities and training for civilian jobs; they’ll be geared toward preparing you and your fellow marines for combat. Saying you want to spend 8 years of your life in the marines, but don’t particularly want to engage in combat, is like saying you want to be an actor for the next decade, but don’t particularly like getting up on stage.

And to make matters worse, the marines are typically the branch that is most amped about combat. In other branches, there is some division of labor between the troops. Someone can be a JAG Corps officer or a cook or a doctor. But the marines have a saying – “Every man an infantryman” – meaning that no matter what your day-to-day job is, you’re a soldier prepared for battle first and foremost.

If you’re really into this for the travel opportunities and money for college, then I’d suggest you look into the Air Force and Navy. Those two offer plenty of travel opportunities, and offer plenty of jobs that aren’t combat-intensive.