General Question

sap82's avatar

Anybody have any advice for somebody considering a career in the military?

Asked by sap82 (704points) July 15th, 2009

Which branch? Why? I am 27

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

37 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

I don’t mean this to sound snarky, but a little knowledge of Arabic could go a long way.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Yes, here is some excellent advice. Join the Air Force. This comes form someone who has spent the last 13 years in the Air Force and the previous 8 years before that in the Army.

The Air Force takes care of its people better than the other services, you have a lower deployment tempo than other services (that could depend on the career field you choose also, though), and the general military environment is very professional but not highly stressful.

The military is going to be what you make it and there are certainly lots of opportunities to do many different things. One of your best resources is going to be a recruiter because they can answer most of your questions about each individual branch of service.

mally03's avatar

Air Force!!!!

marinelife's avatar

There are many benefits to the military, but you should be clear that it is a lifestyle you would be comfortable and thrive in. It is not for everyone.

I agree that the Air Force or the Coast Guard are less likely to result in immediate cannon fodder deployment.

zarnold's avatar

see if you can get into officer candidate school or something similar, it’s generally better than enlisting

ESV's avatar

I think AF is up to 27 yrs of age limit but you can still enroll in National AF Guard and Navy as Well as Army got age limits up to their 40s

willbrawn's avatar

Well first off a good reason to join is to serve your country. To be part of something bigger than yourself. I agree with @bluefreedom I would chose the Air Force. I actually have choosen it and am working on enlisting shortly. It is more family oriented and even friends of mine that are in other branches recommend joining it.

It’s a different lifestyle. But if your up to the challenge I am sure they would love to have you.

Les's avatar

If you could learn a second language like Arabic (as @Mamradpivo suggested) or Pashto or even something like Russian, you could probably get a job as a civilian translator. You’d be invaluable.

juwhite1's avatar

I think your own preferences and interests ought to dictate which branch of the military you opt to enlist in. There are many people who love being in the Army or Navy as well, because that suits their own interests best and helps them reach their goals. If you want great medical training, go with the Navy or Army. If you want great tactical training, go with the Marines. If you are interested in technology, all four branches have numerous highly technical areas you can work in. Think about what you might want to do with your life after the military, and decide which branch will best help prepare you for that. My best advice is to talk to a recruiter from each branch you are interested in… They will all try to sell you on their own branch, but they will also all be able to give you a good idea of the opportunities they have available for you. Take you time on this decision… once you’ve signed the dotted line, you can’t change your mind for quite awhile!

Grisaille's avatar

What branch is based on personal preferences. I’m going into the Marine Corps, and I’m just a bit younger than you. I have my personal reasons – though I’d probably be better suited for something like the Air Force.

What about you? Tell us about yourself/what you’re looking to do and we can give you suggestions. I can give you a very basic rundown.

Marine Corps: The tough summabitches. The USMC has the most physically and mentally intensive basic training of all branches. Contrary to popular belief, the Marine Corps is not comprised of dimwitted, bloodthirsty animals. Marines hold their pride closer to the chest than any other branch (in my personal opinion, don’t bomb me, Bluefreedom!). MOSes (Military Occupational Specialty, or jobs) range from technical to… well, what you expect. Gruntly. Check out what they offer – not everything is killing or patrol duty. Everything is shared; if you want to live by the military and be encompassed by the esprit de corps, the Marine Corps might be where you want to go.

Highly recommended. By me. :P

Army: Well rounded in all areas. If you’re looking for a nice bonus upon entry, I’d look here. Based on personal experience (word of mouth, I’ve a bunch of buddies in both the Army and Marine Corps), there’s a large chance that you won’t get your desired job. Though their “rules” are more lax, there seems to be a huge, brooding corporate feel to it all. Can you tell I come from a Marine family? haha. Honestly, Army ain’t my thing. I’d talk to someone that can give you good insight there.

Navy: Dependent on what you want to do, the Navy could be a very good choice. They have a ton of technical jobs that directly translate back into the civilian world. If you’d like to see the world and pick up some port-side hookers, the Navy might be what you’re looking for.

Air Force: Possibly THE best branch to join if you’re looking to assimilate back into the civilian world, eventually. With so many technical positions, it’s hard to not find something you’d like to do. Beware, if you want to fly a fighter jet: I hear it’s very difficult to get into the aviation program. Really, if you want to join the military aren’t keen on being treated like a tool, I’d suggest the Air Force. Also, be aware that you’re going to need some high ASVAB scores to gain entry. Bluefreedom has the best information on this, I’d ask him questions on what it’s like.

Now, you obviously want to be in some semblance of good shape prior to being shipped off to Basic. Also to note, if you have college credits, you may qualify for officer school. That’s something you might want to look into.

Grisaille's avatar

@juwhite1 I wouldn’t suggest he talk to a recruiter yet. They’d never, ever leave him alone.

I suggest research first, recruiter talk second.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Put a lot of thought into your decision.
If you do decide to go through with it, make sure that whatever schooling they give you is without a doubt your absolute #1 priority because if you don’t do well in school there, you are going to have a crap job for 3.5 years.

Bluefreedom's avatar

One of the first things to consider is that all branches of service have an age limit cutoff when they will consider you for enlistment and these vary among the different services. As others have said, your interests are paramount in considering what you might like to do for a career field. Don’t settle for something that you might not want or something that doesn’t appeal to you and make it clear to the recruiter exactly what you are looking for.

@Grisaille has given very good and compact descriptions of each of the individual services. (The Coast Guard is the 5th, by the way). In my Air Force squadron, we have former members of the Army, Marine Corps, and Navy and they are all happy where they are now and they’re all satisfied with the time and training that they put in with their original services also.

If you have a college education or are close to completing a 4 year degree of some sort, an ROTC program or Officer Candidate School (OCS) is certainly an idea to entertain, if you qualify for that, if you’re more interested in being an officer. Additionally, if you already have some college, that usually means you can enter the enlisted ranks in a higher grade such as E-2, E-3, or E-4 grades. Again, this is information that you’ll want to explore further with a recruiter.

If you have any specific questions about the Air Force or anything else for that matter, feel free to send me a PM and I will help you out however I can. Best wishes to you also in your possible pursuits of a military career. It can be a great experience. It’s been excellent for me for 21+ years now.

@Grisaille. Thank you!

Grisaille's avatar

Coast guard sucks

* looks around *

Who said that?!

Grisaille's avatar

@PapaLeo Woah, woah. Not yet. Still a civi.

Grisaille's avatar

Thank you, though! I’m just not qualified yet to say such a term. ;]

PapaLeo's avatar

With all respect to my other Flutherers, there’s a lot of advice being given without first asking some fundamental questions. Such as:
– What are your strengths/weaknesses?
– Do you have marketable skill sets?
– What education do you have already?
– Do you have a history that may hinder your entry/advancement in the military (i.e. jail time, drug use, diagnosed illnesses, etc.)
– What has your employment history been up until now?
– Are you married or have a family?
– Do you have any long-term debts or obligations?

I hate to sound like a recruiter, but it seems to me that these are fundamental questions that would determine not only which branch of service but also which MOS or OCS.

Dorkgirl's avatar

No matter which branch you choose (and I agree that Air Force or Navy are best choices), be sure to read all the fine print.
Do not be pushed into a job (rate) based on signing bonuses or the BS that a recruiter may feed to you.
Choose a rate that works for you and stand firm on it.
Know that you have choices even if a recruiter (or later CO’s & such) make it sound like you don’t.
Take advantage of the programs that are available for training, placement, duty stations, etc
Be informed at all points of your career.
If you can, pursue OCS. Being an officer pays better, has better benefits, etc. and you are less likely to be the first one shot at.
Talk to more than one recruiter.
Talk to veterans, current enlisted and officers to get a full picture. Often people in the military will have great ideas about how to “work the system”.
Knowledge is power. Don’t make any knee jerk decisions. Recruiters will often make it sound like you have to decide ASAP or something won’t happen. There’s usually time for at least a bit of reflection, take advantage of that.
Good luck!

JLeslie's avatar

Not the army, they are more likely to be killed than the other branches, But, of course it matters what your skill sets are, If you are going to be an HR manager that probably is not a concern. My father worked for the Public Health Service so he had all military benefits, equivalent rand and uniform to the Navy, except for a different insignia on the uniform. Some things about it were great! We had excellent health care, I miss military health, my father has a great pension (just had to be in 20 years and full pension), he flies Space-A (last three years Italy twice, Hawaii) stays on base when on vacation which is very cheap, and shops at the commisary and px still.

Facade's avatar

Don’t do it if you ever plan on having a family or significant other

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie basically because you’ll miss a lot of quality time with them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade it really depends on the position. My dad just worked a 9–5 job.

Facade's avatar

That’s great. My dad didn’t. I don’t care that he missed a lot of my life, but he does. So, I someone can get the 9–5, more power to them.

Dorkgirl's avatar

@facade my husband was Navy for 6 years and only spent 2 weeks on a ship because of smart planning. He did work some long days periodically, but he was typically around, and most of the time he was on a “normal” schedule (7 a.m to 3 p.m.).
True, being in the military can make normal family life difficult but not an impossibility. All parties have to be committed to making the most of the time they have together. A supportive system is essential for any individual in the military.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie Not the army, they are more likely to be killed than the other branches I think more Marines sufferer military related casualties, but the truth is the streets of the US are far more deadly than any military service.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Really? I had always thought it was more dangerous to be army, I could be wrong. I tried to look it up for Iraq, but I could not find the breakdown by branch of service. Meanwhile the streets in the US don’t seem like they are more dangerous, depending on your street I guess. Here is a link to deaths and wounded in Iraq

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie over 12,000 people were killed in the US last year, most of them young men. That’s more then the number of US casualties through the entire 7 years of the Iraq conflict. Approximately 250 people every single week are homicide victims in the US, and that’s not even counting the numbers killed in automobiles.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY But what are the percentages? How many men between the ages of 18–30 (not sure what ages I should really use for this) are living in the US where these 12,000 deaths occured, and what is it like 150,000 at a time might be in Iraq and 4,000 have died. Even if it is a total of a million men over the seven years have been stationed in Iraq over the past 7 years, seems like it is safer to be here at home.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t look up the rate per 1,000 or such, only the raw numbers. Keep in mind, that at any given time, our Military strength is over 1.5 million, and only 10% of them will be in a combat situation, so if you’re talking ‘rate’, military service is still safer.

JLeslie's avatar

My math is different than yours. There are more than a 1.5 million people in the military in that age category. You stated 12,000 that is 3 times 4,000. So, if there are only 4.5 million in that age range living in the US then you are right, but I think there are many more, I’m guessing more like 50 million, but that is a conservative guess out of the sky knowing the total US population is 300 million.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie Ok, on a per person ratio, no, they do not add up, but remember the military is a revolving door, and any snapshot of a given time does not give you the entire number of military personnel who did not die.

Response moderated
JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY true, your point about the population of the military fluctuating, but also in our overall population there are new people becoming 18 every day. Percentages count more than a total number in my opinion, that is how you evaluate risk.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie I find this topic fascinating, but I’m having a hard time find charts or figures to show the actual picture.

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