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  • Considering A Military Career

    Recently I've been thinking about joining the army or marines. My first choice was the air force but I'm starting to reconsider because I'm thinking I'd enjoy the army or the marines more because of the missions and being able to handle a gun. I'm wondering what you guys think I should shoot for. Also, I'm hoping to get a bachelors degree first and then join the army but I really don't enjoy school so I'm not sure how well that would work out.

    What do you guys suggest?

  • #2
    Re: Considering A Military Career

    Well radooh, heres my suggestion as a long time military brat, military husband, and former military officer:

    Go to a recruiting office from each of the services you're interested in and get all of the information you possibly can. Remember that the military is MUCH MUCH more than just going on missions and shooting guns. Matter of fact, i'd venture a guess that less than 10% of what the military does involves these things. Out of the thousands of troops we have in Iraq, the vast majority never see combat action, and keep in mind that 90% of the military is still stateside.

    But go get your options and see what you can do. There are literally endless possibilities you can pursue in the armed services. Each branch is going to offer different things, different benefits and different bonuses. You may find one that you like better than the others.

    Keep in mind that theres two different career paths you can choose: enlisted or officer. Enlisted personnel are the groundpounders, the mechanics, the cooks, etc. Your pay is lower, but you'll probably get to shoot guns if you go into the right specialization. Officers are command personnel. They are tank commanders, fighter pilots, ship captains, etc. Being an officer is the ONLY way you can be a pilot if you're interested. It's also the ONLY way you can ever have a command. You can be in charge of smaller groups as enlisted personnel, but you wont have a real command and it will be a LONG time (7-10 years MINIMUM) before you get anything resembling a command. VERY basic premise for people who dont really understand the military (and I know all you active duty people are going to yell at me for this): enlisted guys are the ones doing the saluting, officers are the ones being saluted.

    As far as earning your bachelors degree, there are several routes you can go with that. You could attend one of the major service academies (West Point [The United States Military Academy], The United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, or the United States Air Force Academy in colorado springs), but I wouldnt really recommend this unless it's your primary choice. You can also enlist in the service and then go through a degree program such as the Enlisted Commissioning Program. Your third option is what I would recommend: ROTC. See Below.

    Each service has ROTC programs at hundreds of universities around the country. ROTC offers two choices as far as how you go through: Scholarship and College Program. All ROTC students attend regular classes at the college they choose to go to as well as military science classes and uniformed drill (sometimes it's physical training, sometimes its lectures, sometimes is marching formations, actually a lot of fun). You still live anywhere you want, you can still go to bars and hang out with anyone you choose. The only difference you have from a normal college student is your ROTC obligations (class and drill). The difference between college program ROTC students and scholarship students is that the scholarship students have full ride scholarships as well as a stipend of 350 dollars a month which increases by a measure of 25 dollars a month each school year (i.e. freshmen get 350, sophomores get 375, juniors get 400, etc.). College program students have the same obligation as scholarship students in regards to classes and drill, but recieve no scholarship or stipend for the first two years of involvement. After that, they are eligible to apply for scholarships each semester and beginning in the third year of participation recieve a stipend of 200 dollars a month. Once you graduate college, you are commissioned as an officer in the service you have selected for a period of four years (or more if you choose to stay in). However, if you spend more than two years in ROTC and then decide to drop out while on scholarship, you are forced to enlist in the military to pay back the government.
    Bottom line, ROTC allows you to have all the fun that normal college students have, plus military training, plus youre an officer when you graduate instead of being enlisted personnel (basically, you walk out of college into a $40,000 a year or more job guranteed). You said you didnt really like school, but the military has your interest, so this might be your ticket because it's both at the same time and it wont brain-fry you while youre doing it.
    Also, with the Enlisted Commissioning Program, you will be assigned to an ROTC unit at a university, but you will have a staff job in addition to your studies. You'll still be getting paid active duty pay while in school, but you'll still have a job too, so its kinda a tradeoff.

    Should you choose not to go to college, you'll be enlisting. Enlisted personnel are the core of the armed service. The pay isnt great, the benefits arent that great, but if you really want to get deployed, this is where you wanna go. Now, with enlisting, you're sent to boot camp, then to your specialization schools and then to your first post. People who take a long term commitment and advance through the ranks eventually become noncommisioned officers (NCO's) and are some of the most respected and knowledgable people in the service. If you progress far enough, you can actually graduate out of enlisted ranks into officers ranks. The navy calls this being a "mustang" and it usually takes 20+ years.

    Basic thing is that you need to make your own decisions as far as what service you want to go into. Theres going to be a lot of people who are major HOOAH (army people) and theres going to be a lot of people who are majoe OORAH (marines) and theyre going to try to convince you to go to their choice of service. Make your own choice based on information you gather and then decide what YOU like. Also, keep in mind that recruiters are going to try to steer you away from going to college right away. Recruiters have quotas to meet (trust me, my mom was the commanding officer of a naval recruiting district and i know what the numbers look like) and they get those quotas by getting you to enlist. But like I said, you do what YOU want, just dont jump at the first hook tossed your way...get all the info first.

    Hope this helps. If you have any other questions, feel free to PM me.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Considering A Military Career

      OK, my response wont nearly be as long as his:) ( by the way...great response)

      I am currently in the Air Force, and out of all the Services, the Air Force is the most Relaxed enviroment. It is the most that feels like a "9-5" job. I love being in the Air Force and never regret it one bit. As far as being able to hold a gun, look at my current situation. My real job in the AF is a Pavement and Equipment operator, and 4 years ago I would never thought I would be doing convoys and route clearence missions like the army. But here I am sweating my butt off here. It really aint bad though. Being enlisted does suck jut for the simple fact is that you have someone who went to college telling you what to do, and telling you how to do your job. But like Ferris said...Do your homework, and if you have any more questions let me know:)
      "Dirtboy is super awesome, and chicks dig him too!"- Everyone



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      • #4
        Re: Considering A Military Career

        Wow thanks a lot guys.

        I really appreciate the help, I will definitely take into account what has been mentioned.

        That ROTC plan sounds good although I'm just wondering if all colleges have that because right now I'm looking at entering a community college and then transferring to a university. My GPA isn't looking too great although most of my test scores were pretty high and my ASVAB scores also got within the top 10% of my class in the 10th grade.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Considering A Military Career

          All what Ferris gave with emphasis on do the one you want to do. You can't really say enough about the Air Force - they don't get the headlines as much - but is that such a bad thing?

          A friend of mine - very close - joined AF 5 or 6 years ago, didn't know anything except that is was perhaps the most 'hospitable' of the Armed Forces. He knew nothing about flying, average build and conditioning - college grad, so he got OCS and then 2nd Lieutenant. Long story short, this guy that knew nothing about planes or flying went on to to ATC in AWACS over battle zones and currently sits in the backseat of the latest F-15 as the radio intercept operator..

          Ya just never know!
          sigpic


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          • #6
            Re: Considering A Military Career

            Not ex or current military, but just one suggestion:

            Go to college.

            It's a whole helluva lot easier to do before you start working or get a family. It'll give you a lot more options in a military or civilian career.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Considering A Military Career

              As far as testing goes, having taken the ASVAB helps, but you wont really need it to get into ROTC. If you're planning on going to community college first, and you decide on ROTC, heres what you need to do (my brother is doing the EXACT same thing you're talking about):
              1.) pick your branch of service.
              2.) find a school you'd like to go to and figure out if they have an ROTC unit for that service (some schools dont have all branches)
              3.) find a community college in the area and apply/get accepted.
              4.) contact the recruiting officer at the ROTC unit at the school you intend to transfer to and ask if they have a "cross town affiliation" with your community college. If they do, this will allow you to take your military science classes and participate with ROTC even while in community college. If they dont, you should get as many classes out of the way as you can while at CC because when you do start ROTC, you're going to have 2 years of catch up to do in military science. military science classes are fairly easy A's by the way.
              5.) while at CC, get the highest possible grades you can. when you apply for a ROTC scholarship after having already been in college, everything you did in high school doesnt matter anymore. all they look at is your college grades.
              6.) transfer to your university and become affiliated with the ROTC unit for your service choice if you dont have a scholarship yet, and if you do, you're all set.
              7.) graduate and commission.

              word of warning about getting scholarships though: some schools and some services will fight for you to get a scholarship and some wont. a good example is this:
              I was in Naval ROTC at the university of colorado. While there, anyone in college program who had a 3.5 or better GPA was pretty much guaranteed to get a scholarship within a semester or 2 because everyone in the battalion would go to bat for them with recommendations and such. Conversely, when my wife was in Army ROTC at school in pennsylvania, if you were college program, you were on your own getting scholarship status approval regardless of your GPA. Also, benefits differ with ROTC between services (I got all my books and medical insurance covered while in NROTC under my scholarship, but my wife did not in AROTC). So once again, be sure to ask lots of questions and make your decision. :)

              EDIT:
              Even if you're thinking about going to community college first, once you've picked your service and desired school, apply for an ROTC scholarship and apply to that school anyway. You never know if they might accept you. If you get accepted for a scholarship and the school turns you down, a lot of the time the service will put in a phone call to the school and you'll magically get accepted. Uncle Sam has a funny way of pulling strings when he has money invested. Conversely, if the school accepts you and ytou get denied for a scholarship, it'll make it a lot faster to get affiliated with the ROTC unit, plus they keep your past applications on file, so they'll see that you show continued interest and you're actively pursuing the military as a career choice...which looks much better from their perspective.

              By the way, comparative stuff for you to look at so that you can see what kinda people get scholarships:
              Me: 3.16 GPA, 1560 SAT score.
              Lowest SAT score for the battalion i was in: 960
              Lowest high school GPA for the battalion i was in: 2.53
              So even with a low GPA its possible.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Considering A Military Career

                Alright.

                Thanks a lot for the help, I'll be saving this page.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Considering A Military Career

                  A word of advice concerning ROTC programs: make sure you research each college's ROTC program before you decide to go there. Some are actually quite useless, and amount to nothing more than attending some military classes, (optional) dressing up in uniform once a week, and jogging every morning.

                  A friend of mine kept getting his college graduation delayed because he was in the National Guard and was repeatedly called to active duty (he's 28/29 now and just finished the undergraduate degree he started about a decade ago). He's seen action overseas, was in charge of squads and training, basically was active military. His last year of school he talked with his CO about a pay/rank bump, and he was told to join the Army ROTC here to get the plan rolling. He dropped out after a few weeks because, in his words, the program was trash. The instructors were teaching fire drills in ways that would get people killed, they couldn't even do simple things like read maps. There was also a "mandatory" dress day, but you weren't punished if you didn't wear your uniform.

                  So, like I said, research any ROTC that you might go into. Talk with actual military guys that know the program if you can so that you get an idea if it's good or bad.
                  [squadl]
                  "I am the prettiest african-american, vietnamese..cong..person." -SugarNCamo

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                  • #10
                    Re: Considering A Military Career

                    Marines.
                    A policy of freedom for the individual is the only truly progressive policy. -F.A. Hayek

                    "$250,000 a year won't get me to Central Park West."

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                    • #11
                      Re: Considering A Military Career

                      Like Ferris said, go talk to the recruiters. There are vastly different philosophies amongst the different branches. AF is high tech and laid back, but everyone thinks they're a bunch of wimps. USMC is low tech and highly disciplined, but everyone thinks they're a bunch of rocks. Army is a large undisciplined mob with a huge variety of MOS's. Navy is high tech, disciplined and has a lot of variety, but odds are good that you'll be stuck on a ship for long periods of time. Obviously I'm over generalizing, but you get the picture. Don't pick a branch based on one thing. On second thought, you may as well. For all their strengths and weaknesses, all of them are top notch, will train you well, and force you to grow as a person.

                      You ever get a catalog from US Cavalry or Brigade Quartermasters? I decided to join my branch of service based on the number of pages dedicated to tshirts/sweats/polos for that branch. Army, navy and air force all had a page and the Marines had 4 pages. That's what made up my mind. It was one of the best decisions of my life.

                      Officer or enlisted? Well, if you're not interested in going to school now, you certainly don't have to. Take the ASVAB and see what MOS's you qualify for. You could get an advanced MOS right off the bat that will train you better than any bachelors degree could. Some of my coworkers got out of the Marines and were hired and paid more than electrical engineers. The training, experience, discipline and practical application of those traits is HIGHLY desired. You'll also be able to avail yourself of tuition assistance programs that will pay for almost all of your college costs while on active duty. And once you get out, you'll have the GI Bill and other programs available to you.

                      You can't go wrong enlisting in the United States Armed Forces. You'll be a better person because of it.
                      Become a supporting member!
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                      • #12
                        Re: Considering A Military Career

                        Thanks Cing but what exactly is an MOS?

                        Will an advanced MOS make me an officer?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Considering A Military Career

                          Originally posted by SmokingTarpan View Post
                          A word of advice concerning ROTC programs: make sure you research each college's ROTC program before you decide to go there. Some are actually quite useless, and amount to nothing more than attending some military classes, (optional) dressing up in uniform once a week, and jogging every morning.

                          A friend of mine kept getting his college graduation delayed because he was in the National Guard and was repeatedly called to active duty (he's 28/29 now and just finished the undergraduate degree he started about a decade ago). He's seen action overseas, was in charge of squads and training, basically was active military. His last year of school he talked with his CO about a pay/rank bump, and he was told to join the Army ROTC here to get the plan rolling. He dropped out after a few weeks because, in his words, the program was trash. The instructors were teaching fire drills in ways that would get people killed, they couldn't even do simple things like read maps. There was also a "mandatory" dress day, but you weren't punished if you didn't wear your uniform.

                          So, like I said, research any ROTC that you might go into. Talk with actual military guys that know the program if you can so that you get an idea if it's good or bad.
                          Unless you are in a Corps of cadets (Virginia Tech, Texas A&M) ROTC is really nothing like the real military. ROTC is really not there to teach you tactics or other field skills that you will use in the rest of your career. ROTC is there to develop your leadership skills and learn the traditions of the respective branch. For Marines and Army, where your life and the life of your men depend on your tactical skills, you have to pass OCS (for Marines) and the army equivelent. After the Marines graduate from school, no matter what field they are in, even the lawyers, they go to TBS (The Basic School) to learn everything about being in a rifle platoon.

                          Again, who practically want as easy a ROTC course as possible because no matter where you graduate from you come out as an O-1 and you dont have to worry about the extra BS that comes with ROTC and you can focus on your academics. I graduated from Villanova University last December and was in NROTC. Believe me, you do not want ROTC taking up your time when you have other projects due. Villanova NROTC, considered as one of the best programs, does the basic ROTC course. You take 4 years of Navy courses centered around leadership development, Navy tradition, Basic knowledge of Naval Engineering and Weapon systems. You PT twice a week in the morning (Once a week if you score Outstanding Low or Higher on the PT test) and there is a Navy Lab once a week where the battalion gets together and has briefs). We wore our uniforms once a week and that is more than enough.

                          In the summer with ROTC you spend 3-4 weeks getting familarized with the military lifestyle and a look at what you and your men will be doing when you enter the service as an officer. For NROTC you have cortamid after your freshman year where you spend a week with each of the platforms (Submarines, Aviation, Marines, Surface). After your Sophomore year you are attached to a Petty Officer and work as an enlisted for 3-4 weeks on a ship or sub, if lucky you can assigned to a Carrier. Your Junior yeat you can choose where you go depending on what you are interested in (squadron, ship, seals or sub) and you are attached to a Junior Officer to see what your job would be like in a year.

                          Your experience can differ depending on the Officers assigned to the school but it is close to impossible to make a decision on the Officers because they switch out every 2-3 years. I was fortunate to have officers that did everything they could to help us get the platforms we wanted.

                          Would I do it again? Definitely. I graduated with a History degree and a commission in the U.S. Navy. I didnt once have to worry about looking for a job as I had one guaranteed. I was picked up as a pilot even with a history degree and am currently waiting to enter the training pipeline.

                          As for flying...If you anyone is interested, you can fly as a warrant officer in the Army, and is actually the ideal rank to fly as because WO's fly for their entire career no matter what WO rank they hold. In the Navy and I believe the Air Force, you have to be an officer.

                          You can always enlist and if you want to go back to college and become an officer there are a number of programs that you can apply for.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Considering A Military Career

                            Originally posted by Radooh View Post
                            Thanks Cing but what exactly is an MOS?

                            Will an advanced MOS make me an officer?
                            MOS is the field or specialty you are in (armor, artillery, infantry, mechanic, MP, etc). Advance MOS are the tougher/more techincal fields that require a good score on the ASVAB. If you score poorly, you will be stuck in the general pool and will pretty much have to go wherever the branch you in needs you.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Considering A Military Career

                              Originally posted by CingularDuality View Post
                              Army is a large undisciplined mob with a huge variety of MOS's.
                              Reaches out and smacks Cing!! :row__523:

                              Seriously though, listen to all the above posts and do the research for yourself; you will be rewarded later in your career. You are still young enough to make a choice and than change it. Also, do not get too wrapped around any of the acrymons just yet, that is for later. Just think of a field that excites you. If after you do not find something that interests you, ROTC or enlisting, than consider just going to college than deciding after graduation.
                              Either way if you have any questions some of us can help you with our experiences of what we have gone through; good and bad. We are always available on IM.

                              Good luck..
                              "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws." -Machiavelli

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