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dreamwolf's avatar

Have you ever taken the initiative to join the military but just didn't follow through in the end?

Asked by dreamwolf (3152points) October 10th, 2011

For those who have followed through, do you often think about the other end of the spectrum, say for instance, what you might have done if you did not join the military?

I ask because, I often think “what if I joined the Navy”, but my “What if I don’t capitalize on art & music weighed more in my youth.”

Quality answers highly appreciated :]

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17 Answers

digitalimpression's avatar

I have been in the military for over a decade across two different branches of service (Navy/Army). I joined because I didn’t have a plan. I had no purpose, motivation, or direction. (the army people will get a kick out of that phrase).

I could have succeeded having not been in the military. I could have had any number of jobs that I would have enjoyed more. I wouldn’t take it back though. I’ve experienced more than I ever imagined I would. I’ve been to more countries than I can count. I’ve seen unparalleled camaraderie and made friends far more solid than any I made in non-military life (through adversity is born strength).

Bottom line: for me it was meant to be. For you it wasn’t.

King_Pariah's avatar

I did join, then got honorably discharged due to preexisting medical conditions.

Scooby's avatar

Yeah I tried for REME when I left school, not long after the Falklands conflict, I failed the medical because of lung capacity problems, I’d had bad pneumonia as a kid plus a bad knee dislocation on my medical records…….
Somehow I’ve always regretted that, I often wonder where I would be now had I been successful :-/

Judi's avatar

My daughter wanted to go to the Naval Academy but froze and decided not to apply. She then found out that a really good friend of ours was on the selection committee for our congressman and she would have been a shoe in.
She is glad she didn’t though. She loves her life, and I love my grandkids. :-)

dreamwolf's avatar

@Scooby you mean regret in regards to have failing the medical condition?

Scooby's avatar

Spot on, the medical condition yes. :-/

dreamwolf's avatar

@Scooby I’d say not to sweat it! It is nothing to regret in my opinion, at least your intentions were well. <3

mrrich724's avatar

Final week in High School, I was in the honors program blazed through standardized testing so I was about to start college with credits done!

I didn’t want to do school anymore. I wanted to do what I loved, which at that point was lifting weights and wrestling. So the plan was to join the Marines, do that for a while, THEN go to school with a military grant.

I went to the Marines recruiting office with my buddy. Of course, with our education, we blew through the test. And being a wrestler, there wasn’t an amount of pushups or situps we couldn’t do. The recruiter praised us. I gave him a bunch of info. . . we both did.

I went home, told my family! Half said WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, YOU ARE ABOUT TO START COLLEGE (it was also 2 years after 9/11). The other half said, DO WHAT YOU WANT, ESPECIALLY IF IT’S SERVING YOUR COUNTRY.

I didn’t know what to do. My uncle through marriage served in the Marine Corps. for 7+ years and was honorably discharged. He said, “Rich, the Marines will be there. Go to college FIRST, and if you decide you still want to join the Corps. than Ooh Rah.”

I went to college. I graduated. And I still think about joining the military. I never did though, and I probably won’t.

I wonder about it. But I guess the wondering isn’t enough to get me to do anything about it.

My mom got mad though, b/c the recruiter called her off the hook, and I THINK even showed up at my house one day looking for me!

Ron_C's avatar

@mrrich724 I think you did the right thing. It’s not because I have anything against the military, I’m a 12 year Navy veteran, but because of how the military was used after 9–11. I thought that we learned our lesson in Vietnam, it turns out that Bush learned nothing. I hate the fact that some of our smartest and best are used as pones in the neo-fascist, empire building, foreign policies established under the Bush-Cheney doctrine of American Exceptional-ism. Somehow we have the right to attack a country because they are “thinking” about attacking us.

Screw the recruiter, he is just in the job to avoid another tour in the god-forsaken middle-east.

fizzbanger's avatar

Why do you feel that you must (or had to) make a choice between art/music and the military? I know two active duty Navy dudes that are musically involved – one plays in a decent band, and the other owns a small indie record label.

Enlisting does not equal committing creative suicide. Navy experiences differ wildly depending on what rate one chooses (determines whether you actually wind up on a ship, etc). There are too many variables to speculate on this!

Buttonstc's avatar

In my Senior year of High School I went through the pre-admission testing (medical and written tests) for both the Army and Navy, got a day off from school when they took a group of us to NY. I figured it would be a good way to get my college education paid for both during and after my time in either. I really could not afford college otherwise.

All I was waiting for was my 18th birthday and graduation.

But then I was notified that my scores on the NY State Regents exam qualified me for a scholarship. So I figured if they wanted to pay me for going to college that was certainly fine by me.

But I often wonder about the road not taken. I’ve met numerous people who’ve put in their 18 or 20 years in the military and then retired. They were still young enough to be able to have a second career available to them. Worked out really well for them.

After talking to various military people I also realized in hindsight that there is a very significant difference in ones experience as an enlisted member versus (after college) an officer. I’d far rather be the one in charge as an officer than to be the lowest on the totem pole. Shit runs downhill, after all.

If you’re not the lead sled dog, the view never changes (ie: the ass end of the dog ahead of you :)

For me personally I’m very glad I didn’t join at the bottom rung of the ladder.

On the other hand, I also saw numerous kids who dropped out/flunked out of college because they just didn’t have the maturity to handle the self discipline and self motivation required to be successful in an atmosphere with so little supervision.

Some of them would have been far better off to have spent a few years in the discipline of the military to grow up a little.

A few years of extra growing up time post high school has been very beneficial for many people who were then much better equipped to succeed at college.

Everybody is different with different needs. Hopefully you can find a way (or a friend/counselor) to be ruthlessly honest with yourself and figure out which situation you would need in order to blossom.

The other thing to keep in mind is the risk of permanent disability or death that comes with military service at this time in history.

It’s a major decision point in your life. Other people can give you feedback but it’s ultimately your own life and you’re the one who will live or die by the consequences of this decision. Others can give opinions but you’re the ONLY ONE who gets to vote.

Buttonstc's avatar

Oh, I almost forgot to mention my stepbrother. He spent time in juvenile detention during his school years and was just generally a fuck up.

However, he did have one thing going for him. He was very gifted musically. The HS guidance counselor steered him into the military and he became an accomplished member of the Army Band. He played French Horn and was in the service for quote a good while and it really straightened his life out.

So it’s definitely possible for your creative or artistic side to be nurtured and improved in the military. If it’s something they have need of and you’re good at it, you can really shine and home your skills. It really depends upon what form your art or creativity takes.

There are lots of performers, artists or writers who really did well in the military. A few off the top of my head: Andy Rooney, Don Imus, George Carlin and even Elvis.

dreamwolf's avatar

@fizzbanger Well unlike these fine folks I didn’t score well on the ASVAB I recall my recruiter telling me it was no big deal since I could eventually apply for any job upon picking an initial job out of the selection. I just wanted to do journalism, which I did test good enough for but my conditions were whacky, because I finished my senior year at a San Diego Charter School, recognized by WASC, but the military for some reason treats it differently, allowing me to qualify for only “some” jobs. So I thought to myself, “thats funny.” You know who didn’t care about my charter school situation? College :D. Yes it’s true you can do military and music, “jimi hendrix did it” but I think I would want to have just done one thing and excel at it, you know? Like just dedicate the rest of my 20’s to it. I would however, in a heartbeat, join the military upon a draft anytime.

mrrich724's avatar

@Ron_C I completely agree with you, and thanks for serving our country. But every once in a while, I get the voice that says, it doesn’t matter, it’s still your country.

Obviously the voice isn’t loud enough though, LOL

Ron_C's avatar

@mrrich724 I get uncomfortable with people thanking me for my service. Mostly because we had to maintain a low profile when we got back from Vietnam. Also, I would have joined regardless, because I was fascinated by the ocean since I was a small child. Add to that, they trained me in my hobby, electronics, there was no way I would avoid the Navy.

So, I’m glad you agree but please don’t thank me for “following my bliss”. I had a little more than a year fighting a war that shouldn’t have been but the rest was pretty good.

mrrich724's avatar

Okie dokie, unthank you then! LOL

Regardless of what you got out of it (I think you will always get something out of an experience like that, and I don’t believe altruism exists), I thank service men/women because even if you are doing what you love, it takes something a little extra special to go to WAR, for a month, much less a year, much less what our soldiers are doing now. . . two, three + tours of duty.

A year fighting a war, pointless war or not, is more than a majority of Americans would be able to do.

I was on the phone with my brother in law a few days ago, it was the day he was deploying for the FOURTH time, this time to Afghanistan. I wanted to thank him, but after being overwhelmed with thoughts about doing 4 tours, and being completely willing to keep going back, I was speechless.

fizzbanger's avatar

@dreamwolf Wow, I never heard about problems with charter schools. Sounds like a bad recruiter. I went through three of ‘em myself when I decided to enlist in the Navy before finding a helpful dude that actually got me where I wanted to go. One told me I only had one rate to choose from because my ASVAB was high (what?). Patience with people that suck at their job is kind of part of being in the military. Haha.

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