Today we will be discussing in brief detail what you need to do to join the Army (or any other armed forces branch) from the time you walk into the recruiters office to the time you ship to basic!
1. Talk with the recruiters: Whether it’s an Army, Marine, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard recruiter, each of them has good information on their branch and each branch may have different incentives. The different branch recruiters will also have different information for you dependent on the branch. Now as you should know already, I am pro-Army but you should decide for yourself what branch is the best for you. Do not make the mistake of going to just one branch recruiter. Talk to them all! Compare what is best! It’s the rest of your life after all.
2. Take the ASVAB: The ASVAB stands for Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Do not worry, taking this test DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO JOIN! It is essentially how the US Military determines what MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) will fit you best. Basically, dependent on what you score on the ASVAB will determine what MOS/military job you can get.
3. Physical Fitness Assessment: You will take a physical fitness assessment. Do not worry too much about this though. It consists of a 1 mile run, 1 minute of push-ups, and 1 minute of sit-ups. I would recommend you train and exercise before you go into basic training but this assessment is just a way of telling the Army where you are physically.
4. Your Background History: You will need to know your medical history and criminal history (if you have one). Do not lie! If the military finds out you lied they can kick you and your recruiter out of the Army. Be as honest about your medical history as you can. They will ask you if you have any medical procedures or surgeries. If you have had any major injuries and if you are taking any prescription medications. If you have a criminal history, well guess what? They pull that too. They will get any police records they can on you (guess you shouldn’t have been out past curfew eh?). This background history is also important because dependent on what your MOS is they will use this history for your background check to get you a security clearance.
5. Pick your Job!: You got a good score on the ASVAB and now they have a whole list of different jobs in the military that you can do! Take your time. There is no rush. This will determine the rest of your Army career and you do not want to make a decision you regret. Get as much information as you can about your job. Remember, your recruiter isn’t the only source of information out there. I mean you are reading this right? Use the internet! Also dependent on how badly the Army needs people in a certain job, there might be perks for picking a certain MOS. You can get signing bonuses (I have heard of people getting $50,000 or more), or you may be able to pick where your first post is. Ask your recruiter which MOS have signing bonuses!
6. Request things in your contract: Few people realize this but you can request certain things in your contract. A few of them are that you might be able to pick your post (dependent on the demand of your MOS in certain locations). You can also request special schools. Right out of basic, especially if you are infantry, you can request airborne, air assault and Ranger school. Additionally you may be able to pick where you go to basic. Just ask your recruiter these questions.
7. Congratulations!: You are now on your way to becoming a Soldier. Now raise your right hand and get ready for basic training.
Things you need to bring with you to the recruiting station:
- You need your bank account information so that the military can direct deposit into your accounts
- Your birth certificate so that you can prove who you are
- Most likely they will also ask for another form of government ID, like a driver’s license
- Your GED or high school diploma (gone are the days when you could get in without one)
- Any college credit you have, bring proof so that you can get a higher starting rank!
- If you are under 17 you will need your parents to give consent to attend basic while you are 17
- Medical records
- I am probably forgetting something, but your recruiter will square you away!