How to Choose a Military Service

Two Parts:Considering the Benefits of EnlistingEnlisting

Choosing a military branch that is right for you takes some careful consideration. Do your research and think about what you want out of your experience, and your future, before you decide.

Part 1
Considering the Benefits of Enlisting

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    Consider all different branches and their benefits. Not all are the same, but there are some benefits in common between all branches. To decide whether the military path is right for you, consider some of the benefits:
    • Family life. It may surprise you, but the Military allows for a balance between work and personal life. In fact, service members enjoy many opportunities to relax with their friends and family, including 30 days of paid vacation a year.
    • Housing. Many factors come into play when determining housing for a military service member. Some of these include where a service member is stationed, whether they’re an active-duty member, Guardsmen or reservist and if they have a spouse or kids. Plus, qualified service members can live off base in civilian neighborhoods using an allowance they receive for housing. Housing on base is also included as a part of your compensation package. If you are married and on-base housing is not available, or you would like to live off base, a tax-free monthly housing allowance will be provided. The military also pays all travel and expenses for required moves.
    • Other Benefits. Beyond their salary, service members enjoy an exceptional quality of life while serving. Benefits include:
      • Educational benefits - GI Bill, tuition assistance, service member opportunity colleges, education on duty, etc.
      • Advanced technical and specialty training
      • cash bonuses
      • Tax-free housing and food allowances, or free room and board
      • 30 days of vacation per year
      • Space A travel - Free flights between bases
      • Substantial discounts and deals throughout the private sector
      • World travel
      • Health and dental care for you and your family
      • Special deals on home loans
      • Pension
      • Being part of a larger family with a proud history - the military tradition
      • The pride and honor of serving your country
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    Consider the different experiences you'll get in each branch. There are differences between the branches. Talk to representatives from all of them to understand which would suit you best, and consider some of the following distinctions:
    • Army and Marine Core - These services tend to be very "hurrah and gung ho"... but the majority do their time, and come out without any applicable skills (they have to go to school after). Plus, some feel they are treated like a child that must have his hand held. If you want to be a warrior only, this is the place for you.
    • Air Force and Navy - These are very technical branches. They teach you skills you can use immediately after your time is served. The Air Force especially, gives you 50%-75% of an Associates Degree just for the training you receive (you must finish it on your own....but it's free). Plus, you are treated like an adult; they wont constantly hold your hand. It's up to you to stand tall among your peers. They merely offer guidance.
    • The Air Force has more Special Forces Teams than the Army, if you still want to go full "hurrah" and maintain a very high standard of living. (PJ,Combat Control, SERE, TACTICAL AIR PATROL, EOD).[1] But be warned, these fields have a high wash-out rate.... it's not easy.
    • The Air Force is the most family friendly of all branches. They even allow you to live on base with your family while you are in Technical School (AIT for Army).
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    Think about your future. Most people join the Military for one of four reasons: Because they have limited options for work and want something new, because of family tradition, to pay for education and get a boost in their careers, or to prove something to themselves or others. Whatever the reason, it often comes down to a future for yourself and future family. So if you do go in... don't jump into the first "bullets, blood and guts" job you find. It may be the macho thing to do, but you can still be all that and choose a job that has marketability in the civilian sector (ie. a technical job).
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    Consider your spouse. For those with spouses, they can respect the fact that you are doing this to secure your future together. Plus, military spouses get free education and preferential job placement (at least in the Air Force). More than likely, they could easily get a job working at the hospital or at some other function on base serving our service members

Part 2

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    Join as an officer if you can. Joining as an officer is different as opposed to joining as an enlisted personnel. For one, a minimum of a Bachelor's degree is required, but your degree must also match up to current military job requirements. For example, most people get a business or accounting degree in college. Those particular degrees are not highly sought after in the military. A better choice would be an engineering degree, aeronautics or something similar. After you pass a background check (must be clean, no arrests/drug abuse etc) and your physical, you will have to go through officer training school. Officer training school is different for all services, but the average cutoff age is 29. Another option would be for you to sign up for college under the ROTC program.
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    Take the Oath of Enlistment. Before you sign up and join, there are a few things you will have to go through first.
    • 1. Drug test and tattoo check. Every service has a different standard for tattoos, but all have the same drug policy. No drugs, if you test positive its over. No chance of joining.
    • 2. Physical (MEPS). You will be taken through the Military Entrance Processing center, where they will evaluate your current and past physical and mental condition. If you have any history of depression, self-harm, Suicidal tendencies or have had major surgeries, you will be disqualified on the spot.
    • 3. ASVAB. You will be required to take a test so they can accurately gauge what skill-set you fit best into. The higher you score, the more jobs you are qualified for.
    • 4. Basic training. Just because you are in basic training, doesn't mean you are totally in yet. They will teach you military standards and practices specific to your branch. You will also be required to meet the physical Fitness standards required. If you cant make it, you will be sent home. Basic training is meant to shock you so they can mold you into the perfect soldier, sailor, marine or airman. Once you move on from basic, everything is much different and not at all like basic training.
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    Start your career. You will be shipped to the location of your first tech (or AIT) school where you will be trained on the basics of your new job. All training has different time constraints and locations. After you graduate that, you will be shipped to your first duty station, where you will continue to serve and advance in rank during your career.


  • Speak with past and active duty service members. Make sure you do not speak to people that got out early or get a dishonorable discharge. More than likely, they screwed up bad and their advice should be discarded.
  • Make sure that any and all promises, guaranteed jobs/career fields, pay, duty posts, and so on are put in writing in the form of an official contract signed by the recruiter making the promise, the recruit and at least one witness (the official contract will be signed and printed at MEPS).
  • Go to as many meetings with recruiters as possible. This is your future, and it doesn't hurt to research all options.
  • Before you sign the enlistment paper, you hold all the power. Use it to your advantage while you can.
  • Notable People that served in the military:
    • Drew Carey - Marine Corps Reserve
    • Elvis Presley - US Army
    • Chuck Norris - US Air Force
    • Johnny Cash - US Air Force
    • Hugh Hefner - US Army
    • Johnny Carson - US Navy (WWII)
    • Ice-T' - US Army
    • Mr. T (Laurence Tureaud) - US Army
    • Montel Williams - US Navel Reserve
    • Clint Eastwood - US Army
    • Jimi Hendrix - US Army
    • Mel Brooks - US Army (WWII, defused land mines during Battle of the Bulge)
    • 'Tom Selleck - US Army National Guard
    • Rob Riggle - United States Marine Corps Reserve officer


  • There is no quitting once you join.
  • Make sure you conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism. A Dishonorable Discharge will follow you for life. It's not hard to keep your nose clean and do your term.....and it's worth it in the end.

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Categories: Careers in the Military