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CuriousLoner's avatar

Questions about enlisting into the Army, can you offer advice?

Asked by CuriousLoner (1812points) January 23rd, 2011

Mainly I want to make sure my recruiter is not pulling one on me.

From the sounds of it, as long as my score is high enough and there are openings for the specific job I’m interested in I will get it.

He told me how it works now is that they reserve that spot if there is one for 7 days. I then have that time frame to say yes or no.Then go to MEPS review my job title, years doing it, etc….Then sign it if I want that job and swear in.

Is that how it usually works? Is there a possibility that they can switch me or some how put me to a different job or once I do that it is locked in?

I was told to be careful since recruiters just want you to join, so I am asking for extra reference.

Also other advice or general knowledge I should know before actually joining completely.

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23 Answers

snowberry's avatar

It can be and has been a good career for many people. I was in the Army Reserve about 30 years ago. In general I found that they will offer you the moon and give you a rock. Your experience will depend a great deal on whether you enlist or become an officer, because they treat them very differently. Officers get better treatment.

I can only tell you about my personal experience in the Army medical system. They had a tendency to assume that because I was a non-commissioned officer, I was “gold-bricking” and faking my symptoms. The fact was I was seriously ill, but they did not care for me. I went to the hospital 3 times, once in an ambulance before they would admit me. I needed gall bladder surgery, and I nearly died because of their neglect.

I hope these things have changed. Perhaps someone can give you a more current report on how things are in the Army.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I spent my first 8 years in the military in the Army and I’m currently serving in the Air Force (for the last 15 years) so I’ll explain what I know and have experienced.

While it’s true that military recruiters are expected to meet a recruitment quota, that’s not to say that they’re all going to use whatever devious means necessary to try to get someone to enlist in the military. Realistically, some recruiters are better than other ones but as far as you are concerned, be very clear when you state to the recruiter what MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) that you’d like to enter into and that you’d like it written into your initial paperwork that he’ll guarantee that position for training after you finish boot camp.

Yes, if your ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) score is high enough, it will qualify you for a number of different career fields and the recruiter should explain to you how that applies to what you’re interested in. Ask lots of questions and again, be very clear to the recruiter exactly what you want to do and what it entails to get there.

When I joined the Army in 1986, they didn’t have the reserving of a spot that you selected for 7 days like you stated but I’m glad they’re doing something like that so that it locks in your choice for a predetermined amount of time although it would be nice if it was longer than a week.

Yes, you will eventually go to MEPS and review your choice of your MOS and review paperwork and it is also where you will be given an extensive physical examination prior to induction into the military. One way that you can be involuntary switched from one career field to another is if you fail to complete your AIT (Advanced Individual Training which follows boot camp) for the specific career field you signed up for. In a case like that, you can be moved to another career field that might have shortages that need to be filled.

If you plan on making a career of the military, it can be very rewarding and beneficial in many ways. Your career is what you make it so always keep that in mind. If you’re interested in advancing your personal education, make sure that you sign up and take advantage of the G.I. Bill. There has been many good changes to the program over the past decade or so and it is a very solid way to have the military pay for your education. Additionally, if you enlist and prior to going to boot camp, start getting in shape now doing push-up’s, sit-up’s, and running on a regular basis because it will benefit you really well when you first arrive at basic training.

Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors and in your future military career if you decide to go that route.

klutzaroo's avatar

Get anything they promise you in writing. You cannot hold them to promises that they did not agree to officially, officially meaning on paper, signed, dated, whatever else. Including that you are headed for the MOS that you want to be headed for.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Couldn’t have said it better myself! ; ))

Seaofclouds's avatar

@Bluefreedom said it really well. The main thing is when you finally sign your paperwork, make sure it has the correct information on it and everything that they recruiter promised you. Without it in writing, it doesn’t really mean anything.

My husband use to do recruiting (just a few years ago) and he said they can reserve slots for you (which sounds like what you are describing), but don’t be surprised if they try to convince you to pick one of their more needed MOSs (if yours isn’t one of their highest needed) all the way up until you sign your paperwork. It’s important that you know what the exact MOS is for what you want to do so you can be sure that is what’s on your paperwork when you sign it and enlist.

If you have any other military related questions, feel free to ask and I’m sure you can get plenty of good answers from the people of Fluther. We have quite a few people that have prior service and some still in the service.

john65pennington's avatar

The military is desperate for men and women to join. they may sometimes tell you anything to get you to sign on the dotted line. i would think long and hard before making a decision that you cannot get out of.

This is the same advice i gave my son.

jerv's avatar

I am not sure if they can actually reserve the slot, so they may be using the seven-day thing as sales pressure. However, if they say in writing that you will get a certain MOS/rating if you enlist, then that is the school you will get after Boot Camp. They don’t have to (and probably won’t) honor any promises not made in writing, but those that are in black-and-white are binding.

Of course, you can lose that school and wind up in a different MOS/rating if you fail the school that you get sent to first. That happens to many who go into the Naval Nuclear Power program; they get into the school that they signed up for (NNPTC) and then, for one of many reasons (academic, discipline, or (all too often) psychiatric), they wash out, become Nuclear Waste, and hit the fleet as a non-Nuke. (The attrition rate was around 70% when I went.)
I wouldn’t worry about that too much though. Fortunately for you, NNPTC is one of the few schools that you can wash-out without trying; most of the other schools in the military can be passed by anybody with a brainstem and enough discipline to pass Boot Camp. What that means for you is hat if the papers say you will get MOS xxx then you will get the school for that MOS after Basic and then wind up with that MOS.

@john65pennington What they tell you is less important than what the paperwork actually says ;)

snowberry's avatar

If all that paperwork they give you is in legalese, it’s anyone’s guess what it really means.

Sunny2's avatar

A friend’s son enlisted in the Marines and was told he would have a particular assignment which would include training the young man wanted. After enlisting they found out he had smoked marijuana before enlisting and using that as a reason, he did not get the assignment he was promised. Good luck.

jerv's avatar

@Sunny2 Yeah, full disclosure swings both ways. Then again, if they are desperate for a hard-to-fill position then they will grant waivers for stuff that would get a normal person shit-canned. You should see some of the Nukes; criminal records, medical issues, etcetera, but they take them anyways since not many people are smart enough to learn all that stuff (calculus, heat transfer, radiation fundamentals, reactor chemistry, nuclear physics….) in 24 weeks.

YARNLADY's avatar

The contract you sign to join the military is full of weasel words like “if there is an opening” and “as needed” so they are not actually promising you anything. Be prepared to be placed where ever they need you, not where you want to be. As long as you are flexible, you will have no problems.

jerv's avatar

@YARNLADY True, but pretty much any job has that sort of thing happening. I know I’ve been shuffled according to the needs of my employer more than I was shuffled according to the needs of the Navy and had more promises broken by civilian employers than by the military.

YARNLADY's avatar

@jerv Yes, you are correct, however, the Army has much more of a lease on your life, and a civilian can quit any time they want.

klutzaroo's avatar

@john65pennington Actually, they’re slowing down enlistment now enough that they can be picky about who they take. Some people who I know who would have been snatched up as a warm body a couple of years ago are having as much trouble getting into the military as they are getting a job outside of it.

BoltFan's avatar

Dont do it, look at all branches first, then and only then make a decision based on what fits your personality and what you wish to accomplish. I am a Marine recruiter and I will say that htere are many programs and avenues that can benefit you so long as you know what you’re getting into and aent surpised by anything. There are areas on the contracts that we use that say that you will be assigned duties such as cleanup and may have to temporarily work in an area out side your MOS. That being said, at least for my branch, you can only work in that area for up to a year before you go back to you original job. As for the guy who said his friend disclosed marijuana usage, yes it is true that if you use marijuana prior to joining and you fail to tell us, then and we find out after the fact, you go to boot camp and talk about your usage to the people down there, you will most likely lose your job and get assigned a new one. Its not the recruiter’s fault, that is in the contract that is signed be the applicant. I personally don’t want everyone to join the Marine Corps, as a recruiter this would generally go against everything I know about recruiting, but I don’t need a lot of new applicants right now so I have the luxury of choosing who gets the priviledge of become part of my organization. I guess its more that I get to interview them to see if they are right for my service vice what I get to do for them. If the young man or woman wants to be a Marine and I think they will fit well within my ranks, we take the next step. No longer do we chase high school kids around to get them to join, if I had to resort to that I wouldn’t want them anyway. Good luck to you, and be very wary of the typical military recruiter, ask around and do some legitimate research (not Google).

jerv's avatar

@BoltFan I thought only the Army recruiters chased kids around the mall; the other branches have standards :D

@klutzaroo It’s a little different when your ASVAB scores are high enough to make you a prime target. They weren’t desperate when I went in, but that didn’t stop four different branches coming after me, offering me all sorts of stuff. Some people will always be snatched up even if the recruiters really aren’t looking.
But you’re right; warm bodies are a dime a dozen, and they are full of those right now.

klutzaroo's avatar

@jerv I know someone who’s convinced he’s going to get into the military. He’s dumb as a rock, has a ASVAB score in the low 80s that he’s inordinately proud of (we have no idea how he managed it and neither does he), and eats hamburger patties sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches as part of his “weight loss plan” to prepare. There isn’t a single branch of the service that’s desperate enough to take him on right now even if they have been in the past. Which is exactly as it should be.

jerv's avatar

@klutzaroo Some of the dumbest people I ever met outscored me on the ASVAB, and I got a 97.

BoltFan's avatar

This is so true, you cannot gague someone simply on ASVAB alone, many applicants I talk to score really well, and all want to be “Scout Snipers” . But I know that many aren’t of that caliber. I tell them that ” I wanted to be an astronaut” but look where I am. Does that mean I fell short of my goals? No, I am a realist, I tell it like it is. If a kid wants a certain field and I feel that he will not be successful there, we make other arrangements or I discharge him/her from my DEP.

CuriousLoner's avatar

I have heard the Air Force is pretty much a open contract and even with your top 4 choices there is a good chance you won’t get that job either. They pretty much put you wherever they want. From my understanding the main reason being is the Air Force is having a lot of people join, and I guess they can be picky and move people where they would like.

I don’t believe the other branches have the set up to pick a job like the Army does, which is why I am leaning more towards this branch. I have not done anything else besides ASVAB test and full physical.No paper work signing myself over or anything like that.

If it means anything when I bugged my recruiter about jobs and how things work he said to me “I’ll ask you this you want an office 9–5 type of job? Or kicking down doors?” I didn’t really have an answer. Told him I don’t know. He says back to me “I ain’t trying to bullshit ya man all the branches have people coming in, I’m not desperate to scam people to join if you because told me fuck you or don’t show up again and got up and left, I wouldn’t care, but if you wanna join I can help you get where you wanna go.” The biggest thing he said was finding what I am interested in doing.

I don’t believe my recruiter has said or done anything to make me think otherwise, maybe I got one of the honest ones?

jerv's avatar

@CuriousLoner The Navy generally does let you choose, and when my step-dad joined the USMC, he chose Radioman.

BTW, my recruiter told me that the Navy Nuclear Program was rough, tough, had high attrition, and even the unlikely chance that I succeeded, I would have a shitty, thankless job since the Navy doesn’t really have any other kind. Well, it was rough, tough, I lsot a lot of classmates, and I spent the rest of my enlistment doing shitty, thankless jobs, so I can’t say he lied to me :D

BoltFan's avatar

I can say that from what I know about the Army, is that they have a lot of soldiers in that service, mense that they as a service are flexible with job skill training. They can garantee qualification for a job skill off of the practice asvab. But you need to make sure you read your contcract, make sure it says that you will serve in the job skill as outlined in the contract, not just get trainied in that field. I have seen far too often that someone joins the Army under the pretense that they are trained and serve in that job, only to find out that, while they are trained in that job, there isn’t much need for thier skill that job skill where they end up, and wind up doing a job completely outside what they we promised by thier recruiter. Be careful what you ask for.

Jenniehowell's avatar

When I joined the Navy I wanted to be a corpsman & ended up being an aviation electrician. The recruiter basically manipulated me into a field he needed me to fill due to my scores. They tried getting me to be a nuc but I refused that one. I was told by my recruiter that I’d be waiting for months to get an opening for corpsman & if I wanted into the navy on a speedy timeline I’d choose something different. Not sure about the 7 day holding you mention but I do know they’ll do their best to manipulate you toward what needs filled before what you actually want so stick to your guns if you want something & you know you qualify for it. Additionally, you do have chances throughout your military career to switch jobs & no matter what job you get you’ll often get stuck with weeks (sometimes months) of duty in other areas until you reach a high enuf rank to escape that unfortunate experience.

Remember once you’re in – no matter what job you get – work hard & take advantage of all the opportunities you can. After 8 years in I can say I regret not taking advantage of some of the free travel opportunities & the fact that I spent too much time partying when I could have spent it using that tuition assistance to complete my degree. The errors of youth lol.

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