I most definitely think you can have a happy life making a career out of the military, but there is a unique culture that is unlike any in civilian life. As such, it may not be for everyone. For me, as a dependent child, it was wonderful, but there are some pros and cons.
My father was enlisted in the Air Force for 27 years. We moved every three years (this is how the military works, with re-assignments to new bases) both within the U.S., and in Germany. Got to see England, Paris, and ski in Switzerland. I did change schools every 3 years. Its a little challenging, especially as an only child, but I made friends quickly, and moving very often did condition me for adult life to be able to strike up conversation with almost anyone in the world as I generally can find some common topic to discuss!
1) Would you be okay moving to a new city, state, or even country every 3 years?
2) Would you be okay making new friends every 3 years?
3) Would you be okay being separated from extended family and friends from home (parents, siblings, cousins, middle school, high school, etc)?
4) Would you be okay occasionally missing birthdays, or spending time with family during holidays (depending on where you're stationed, and how much leave you have)?
5) Would you be okay with following rules and procedures of commanding officers?
There are tremendous benefits of being in the military:
- Very close group of people who share the same experiences and challenges above (you're in good company)
- Great opportunities to extend your education as the military will pay for school
- Travel the world (domestic, and international)
- Be immersed in different cultures (art, language, life styles) <<- If you go into the military, PLEASE visit the tourist spots in the cities and countries where you're stationed (trust me on this - visit museums, sporting events, castles, everything!)
- Benefits: dental, medical, etc
- Sports: intramural activities (e.g. softball, bowling, etc), and in some cases, tackle football even at the adult level
In the end, I truly enjoyed traveling and seeing the world with my parents, and my dad in the military. Military wasn't for me though, as I wanted to "stay" close to family when I got out of college, and wanted to build a life in a city, or state, for as long as I could. I wouldn't change my upbringing for the world, but a drawback is that I do not have close friends from my "school days" since we traveled so much.
Hope this helps!