The reasons people join the military is a pretty diverse topic for many people. Even more varied is the reasons people don’t join or end up leaving the Army. This article will briefly go over the these two aspects.
Why people join (and stay):
Pension: A large majority of people that are already in will stay in for their full 20 years until they retire with their pension. 20 years in the military will give you 50% of your pay when you retire for the rest of your life. Additionally you get full health and dental coverage for you, your wife, and children till the end of your days.
Education: There are SO many different programs in the Army (and military) that pay for school or give you more opportunities. These range from giving you $4,500 per year in tuition payments while you are still in the army, to paying for your entire degree while getting housing expenses paid, to being able to get a medical or law degree fully paid for by the military while you get paid your normal salary. Then there are all these other training certifications and schools that the Army will send you too for free (and pay your travel expenses too).
Experience: The job experience you get from your time in the military is tremendous if you plan on using that experience after you leave the Army. If you get accepted to a certain MOS (Military Occupation Specialties) the Army will pay for your training and pay your salary even if you do not have any experience in it! This includes fields like engineering, networking, IT, food safety, emergency management, law enforcement, etc. and it is all free to you! Not only that but after they train you, they give you massive amounts of on the job training.
Living Abroad: The Army, as well as the other branches, give you tremendous opportunities for living abroad in other countries and cultures. You can live PCS (Permanent Change of Station) to an extremely wide variety of locations like Colorado, Washington, New York, Hawaii, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, UK, Qatar, Kuwait, etc. While there you can experience the culture and the people, eat the food and broaden your view of the world! The one caution to this is you will probably need to have a few years in before they will send you to one of these locations (you can also request them when you reenlist, but thats a future post).
Patriotism: The opportunity to serve the country that has given you so much. Less than 1% of US citizens serve in the US armed forces and know what it means to fight for your freedom. For the most part some one you know has probably served whether it was a parent, grand parent, or friend. You may not even know they served, and may still serve in the National Guard or Reserves. They are your doctors, gardeners, teachers, police and firefighters. They chose to raise their right hand and defend the US and the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. For a lot of people patriotism is the main reason why they serve.
Why people don’t join (or leave):
Hard on the family: If you have a family the Army life is hard. You will move every 2-3 years. This may mean buying/renting a new house. Finding a new school for your kids. Your kids will have to find new friends. Your wife/husband will have to get a new job (moving so much also means that your spouse’s resume will take a huge hit since there is very little longevity). Sometimes the new post may not have the amenities your old post had. The most exciting thing at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri is the Wal-Mart on Saturday night.
Deployments: With Iraq in the history books and Afghanistan soon to be a bitter memory, deployments are not going to be that big of a deal any more. However, when both of those wars were going on you could expect to deploy every other year. That mean 12 months stateside, and 12-18 months deployed dependent on your mission. This was both active duty and reserves/national guard. It is hard. Very hard. You will leave your family for year year or more and not know when you can talk to them. You will not know when you will be able to come back home, or even if you will go back home. You may lose close friends. You may be maimed or lose limb(s). You will in all likelihood go to a memorial or funeral for someone you knew that died before their time.
It Is A Hard Life: Being in the Army and any other branch is a hard life. It is not your 9-5. You can expect to wake up at 5 AM every day and you may not get home until 6 PM or later. You will do 10 mile ruck marches with a minimum of 40 lbs on your back. You will fill and stack 50 lbs sand bags in the hot sun to build fighting positions. You will eat a lot of really bad food. You will also not spend as much time as you want with your family, and you will move away from the friends you grew up with. Most of all the Army is very hard on your body. 20 years in the Army will hurt your back, ankles, shoulders, wrists, neck, etc. That is why when you give those 20 years you get medical care for the rest of your life.
The Bull$h*t: Imagine your neighbor dumps his trash all over the place, leaves dog poop in your yard, and plays music loud enough to wake the dead. Now imagine if the police gave him tickets for the trash, dog poop and loud music. Then they proceed to give you a ticket for not controlling your neighbor. The Army is like that. Police your neighbor, or you get punished. Group punishment. Reactive, not proactive. “Common sense? That makes too much sense, lets do the complete opposite.” These are some of the things you will experience while in the Army.
So why don’t you tell me already if I should join the Army or not?!
Unfortunately this is a decision only you can make. It is definitely something you need to carefully consider since joining the military will have a significant effect on your future life, for the better or for the worst. In the end only you can decide. Hopefully the information above can give you just a little bit of insight into what is the best decision for you.