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What are the potential downsides of joining the Military

I am in Sea Cadets (USNSCC) and I absolutely love it. I am playing on joining the Military (specifically to be a Navy Corpsman), but I would like to know what physiological and physical "downsides"/strains of such a job. I've heard mixed opinions, but I would like to read more into it. #military #navy #future

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Steve’s Answer

Hi Timothy,

You ask a great question and one that certainly needs to be considered when planning on joining the military. First of all, I am sure that your experience in the Sea Cadets is already starting to prepare you for what the military experience is. While I can't speak exactly to what Navy Corpsman go through training wise, I am a former Marine so I spent plenty of time with the corpsman who were assigned to our unit. If you are a corpsman assigned to a Marine unit, as opposed to a ship, Naval force, etc., you will certainly be taking part in the same training that the Marines do to prepare for combat. So that is definitely something to be aware of when you are considering the different struggles that you could face as a military member. Now, I don't have experience with corpsmen who were attached to Naval units, but I imagine that their schedules and experiences were much different than ones with Marine units.

Obviously, you will be away from family and friends for extended periods of time and there is the potential to head to a war zone. These factors alone describe the majority of strains most people will face. However, almost every military member I know is very proud of their service and doesn't regret their time for one minute.

Good luck with your future decision.

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Chermone’s Answer

Hi Timothy, any job in the military comes with potential physical and psychological downsides. Navy corpseman are no different. With the state of the world in flux, combat fatigue is practically guaranteed for most servicemembers- and that's directly war related. That's not including the issues servicemembers endure during training for said deployments. Add to that the stress of being away from family and friends, it's a perfect storm if you are unaware of the difficulties that you will endure. NOw with that said, there are plenty of benefits to being "in". Do some more research, and if your heart is set on it, then do it. We need strong people to continue to defend this great nation of ours!

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John’s Answer

I may be a bit bias as I have served 27 years in the U.S. Army and Massachusetts Army National Guard, but I see few down sides. All of which they try to tell you about or at least you should know. Also there is both a mental and physical evaluation before they let someone in. But here is the short list.

  1. Death - you can die while working for the military. They have a insurance and programs for your survivors like "Gold Star" families but once again. Your died.
  2. Physical demands - Dependant on the job you go for you could find yourself working long hours, in the heat and cold. Lifting what every needs to be carried and working out constantly isn't always going to stop the body from breaking down.
  3. Mental demands - Not just the possibility of seeing a friend die. It can happen but outside of a few jobs where you might actually get shot at it can be considered unlikely. There is also sheer number of hours you work. The guy who figured to pay the military by the month instead of the hour was a genius. It is not unheard of to work (while on deployment) 80 hour or more a week. No days off. And I am talking as a mechanic or clerk. It can happen.

Now that the big ones are done, let me say. Forget about them! If you are not deployed, you are most likely working 9 to 5 with Physical Training in the mornings to keep you in shape. There are 4 sustainment people for every person in the fight and once again if your stationed stateside the worst you have to worry about is a field exercise.

So what are the real things all military have to put up with.

  1. Being away from family. Mind don't even call for the smaller holidays anymore.
  2. Watching your kids grow up in pictures.
  3. Listening to people complain about the country your working to defend.
  4. Putting up with careers that can sometime cap you for pay or promotion.
  5. Moving often. I have known people who have moved bases every 3 to 5 years. We are talking moving from state to state not down the street.
  6. You will forget more people that you have met than you can count. The military wants you to learn as much as you can to be the best you can be. This means changing jobs often. More for officers than enlisted but with everyone moving around you will have trouble keeping in touch either people.
  7. Financial issues. You only make so much. Everyone knows how much that is. Seriously it's published for all to see. Not by your name but by your rank. I have seen people get roped into a lease that salesman said they could afford but the salesman wasn't thinking about the other five bills the soldier had. You really have to be money wise and there are people to teach you but most don't go to them until they are already in trouble.

Is that enough? You might be wondering how I stayed for 27 years. I got smart. I asked for help. When needed I took some lumps but learned some tough life lessons. Is it for everyone? No! Many kinds of people should stay out of the military. Those looking for a free college ride but not wanting to be a patriot should not apply. (In my humble opinion).

Those who are not afraid of hard work. Those who want of life of challenge, growth and education. Those who care about something bigger than themselves. Those who want to be better, smarter or just more. All of those should apply.

John recommends the following next steps:

See a military recruiter.