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How do I know which Military Branch is right for me?

For as long as I could remember I had always dreamed of being in the Military. With my last year of HS weighing in, it's to the point where I need to step up and choose what I wanna do with my life. The only thing i'm having trouble with is deciding what branch is right for me. #military

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Jennifer’s Answer

Hello Chloe!

The best advice I can give it to decide on what you want to do before you join the military. Thomas was
100% correct in advising to NOT let the recruiter talk you out of what you want. The ASVAB will also
help you with what careers would be a good fit for your skillset.

The key to the enjoying the military is to enjoy your job! Once you figure that out then figuring out
which branch should be easy. When selecting your branch of service also know what each has to offer.
If education is a long term goal be sure to check your local state veteran's benefits as well as what each
branch has to offer. Lastly look at what kind of advancement opportunities there are for the career
you are interested in, does it make send to do a 4 year or 6 year enlistment. Does it make more sense
to go to college with ROTC and then join as a commissioned officer. These are all things to consider.

FYI - I did 10 years as an Air Force enlisted aircraft mechanic and my husband retired with 27 years
as a crew chief.

Best of Luck!
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Carla’s Answer

Everyone's advice is spot on so I won't duplicate their responses, so I will add this: know what your end game is before going in. My reason for joining the military was to gain real life and work experience, and to travel, and to earn a B.S. Degree before I got out of the Army. Because I stayed laser focused, I was able to accomplish all of this and then some.
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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Chloe,

I am a great believer in learning as much as you can about any organization that you want to join, the various branches of the military are no different. I think that culture and values that align to your own will help you make your decision. The many people who I have known who wanted to joined the military usually had an affinity for one over another. My father always wanted to be a pilot. Now you can be a pilot in several branches, but he liked the branch whose primary focus was the air - so he chose the Air Force. Two of my uncles and a good friend saw their desired experience as being on the ground. The culture and purpose of the Army was more their preference. I knew others who had family ties to one branch or the other. Others have chosen the branch with a location close to where their family lives. I have still known others who have simply chosen between branches through discussion with a recruiter.

I think that where I would begin if I were you is how you would like to serve. What role do you see for yourself? There are roles that are true across all the branches - medical professionals, Human Resources, teachers, etc. Then combine that desire with what military branch fits your other desires.

Gloria
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Kim’s Answer

Chloe,

I too will tell you not to be swayed by recruiter sales pitches! My brother's ASVAB score was one point too low for his chosen field. The recruiter said, "oh, don't worry, they'll waive that for you when you get to Florida." Yea. right. He went in with no declared field. He spent the first two years doing "details." Yard work, chipping paint, etc. Do not be sweet talked by offers of cash signing bonuses either! Your happiness and job satisfaction are more important than money!!!

Why do you want to go in the military? Since it has been a lifelong dream, there must be something behind it. Are you trying to prove to yourself how physically tough you are, your ability to succeed? Is it out of a sense of national loyalty? When you think of each branch, what is the first thing you think of? Which uniforms do you like? (not a big factor, but still. . .!)

What field do you want to go into? What do you want to do when you get out? Even if you make it a career, many people have a second career after retiring from the military. The Navy used to provide training that transferred to the civilian world, at least for skilled trades. Not sure if they still do. That's nice because you don't have to start all over from the beginning when you leave the service. I know it is a long way away, but thinking about life after the military will help you decide what to do while you are in the military. You will want to save for college, and maybe start taking some college courses while you are still in.

Everyone has a different opinion of each branch. Living in San Antonio, I can tell you the Army has an awesome Combat Medic course. I can also tell you from my personal experience that the army tends to hire people with lower ASVAB scores. Or, at least they used to. My Dad was Air Force. My brother was Navy. Keep researching.

good luck!
Kim
Thank you comment icon Thanks and to answer your questions: Not only do I want to test my own strength, I also want to test my mental capabilities. All this will be for my grandpa who is gone. I want to make him proud in any way I can. I sorta think about uniforms, but not that much. I was hoping to do maybe a few years in the Marines, and switch over to the Air Force. After I complete those terms I would probably not retire only because I love working, so I would do probably Real Estate xD but ty I will consider everything you said. (: Chloe
Thank you comment icon Don't tell the Marines you plan to leave them and go to the AF! As a police officer, I worked with some Marines. They were a great bunch of guys, and spoke fondly of their Marine days. Take all that training very seriously. It's a good feeling when you know that you can do whatever you set out to do! Kim Igleheart
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Ryan’s Answer

It is very noble and kind of you to want to serve to honor your grandfather, and to make him proud. That said, I'm certain your grandfather will be proud of you no matter what you do in life, so long as you are happy and making your community and family better. If you choose to serve in the military, I would encourage you to do it for you, and no one else. Your internal motivation will drive you further any external motivation ever will.

If you still desire to serve, I echo what the others have said, which is to first select a job (or a short list of jobs) that interest you. The different branches have different specialities. When selecting jobs, I encourage you to consider a career which also has a civilian equivalent (i.e finance, medical, public relations, logistics, etc.). Careers without a civilian equivalent, like infantry, artillery, munitions, etc., can be very confusing to civilian employers, and may make it difficult for you to get a job after your military service ends.

I won't tell you to solely consider jobs though, because the overall culture and standard of living is also an important consideration, and there is a lot of truth in the military branch stereotypes. If you want me to explain those stereotypes in greater detail, I will.

~Captain, United States Air Force (2014-2018)
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John’s Answer

I have two pieces of advice:

1. Joining the military is usually the first time a lot of people have to deal with a contract. Remember that whatever they put into the contract, you and the military are equally responsible for keeping your side of the deal. If either of you doesn't fulfill the agreements, it is cause to breach of the contract. That said if you put in for infantry and you can not physically do the job the military chooses what your job will be. I knew someone who could not qualify for his choice, and the military made him a cook for three years until he finished his contract. There are several things that they can put into the agreement. From duty stations to learning specific skills dependant upon the branch.

2. Don't choose a branch. Pick a job that you want to train in and find a branch that specializes in that. Something easy would be police. All branches have law enforcement, but the Army and Air Force have a large number. My stepson looked into the Navy and decided to look Army to join the military police.

Bonus: One other thing that I was thinking about. The military has schools that run at different times and have different requirements for specific jobs with specific standards. If you get turned down for some reason, get some college under your belt and try again in a year or two. The standards do change.

Best of luck!
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James’s Answer

I went through the recruiting process in late 2018. My first choice was the Coast Guard. They were my first choice because of their active role in maritime enforcement. What I quickly realized about the Coast Guard was how difficult it was to even get in touch with a recruiter. This made me less interested. The next office I went to was the Navy. The Navy couldn't guarantee me the job I wanted, so I was turned off of that. I went to the Marines next. My Marine Corps recruiter always told it to me straight. He also showed me job offers he received from local law enforcement. He got me my choice of jobs. He told me it wouldn't always be a good time. It would suck. But I would also get a lot out of it. His honesty and the challenge made me choose the Marines. I would never pressure anyone to join the Marines. It isn't for everyone. Best of luck with your decision.
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Donna’s Answer

I think it really depends on what you want to do. All the branches have a certain amount of engineer, computer, medical and gunnery type of jobs. So think about what type of things you like and what you want to do, then go talk with the different branch recruiters to see what your options are.
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Robbie’s Answer

Hi Chloe. I'm very excited that you're considering the military. I spent 8 years in the United States Air Force and have no regrets with deciding on them versus the other branches. I loved it actually, but circumstances had me go in a different direction instead of making it a career. I would recommend visiting a recruiter in the branches you're interested in. For me, it was between the Air Force and Navy and am glad that I chose the Air Force however any would be an amazing opportunity! Good luck in your prayers and decision making! You will not regret it.

Robbie recommends the following next steps:

Having an open mind while visiting a branch recruiter.
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Jay’s Answer

Look at the missions each branch of the military does. Then see if any of the positions in that branch suits you.
Almost every branch has logistics, technology, health services, operations, and enforcement positions.
See the options for enlisting or going the officer route.
Everybody joins the military for different reasons.. I did after getting my associates degree to travel and to pay for college/benefits.

Below are the missions for each military branch (from Military.com):
Army
-Preserve the peace and security and provide for the defense of the United States, the Commonwealths and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States
-Support the national policies
-Implement the national objectives
-Overcome any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States
Air Force
-To preserve the peace and security and provide for the defense of the United States, the Territories, Commonwealths, and possessions, and any areas occupied by the United States
-To support national policy
-To implement national objectives
-To overcome any nations responsible for aggressive acts that imperil the peace and security of the United States
Navy
-To prepare the naval forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war
-To maintain naval aviation, including land-based naval aviation, air transport essential for naval operations, and all air weapons and air techniques involved in the operations and activities of the Navy.
-To develop aircraft, weapons, tactics, technique, organization, and equipment of naval combat and service elements
Marines
-The seizure or defense of advanced naval bases and other land operations to support naval campaigns
-The development of tactics, technique, and equipment used by amphibious landing forces
-Such other duties as the President may direct
Coast Guard
-Marine safety
-Search and rescue
-Aids to navigation
-Living marine resources (fisheries law enforcement)
-Marine environmental protection
-Ice operations
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Estelle’s Answer

I would recommend meeting with recruiters for all the branches. I also think you should try to talk to as many active duty and retired military personnel as possible. Good luck!
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Dennis’s Answer

Selecting a branch of the military is totally up to you. With the help of google, you can search each branch and I would suggest prior to have a punch list of what your looking for. This will determine a process to narrow down what branch, what specialty and future steps. Also each branch has specific geographic duty stations, so if that is a a preference for you look at those.
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John’s Answer

Take a close look at historically significant contributions by each branch of the military (including Coast Guard) and get a decent overview of what actions were needed to make that happen. Navy: Land/Air/Sea/Sub surface. Army: Land/Air. Marines: Land/Air/Sea. Coast Guard: Land/Air/Sea. Airforce: Air/Land.

These are very general but I have enjoyed my U.S. Navy career and would promote it to anyone looking for a fantastic opportunity to serve their nation.
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Thomas’s Answer

This tends to be a very independent choice that varies person to person. My first suggestion would be to take the ASVAB and see where you score. From there you should decide what type of job you actually want. The Army/Navy has a larger selection of jobs vs the Air Force/Marines. So take that into consideration. From there approach the recruiters and tell them what you want. Do not, I repeat, do not let them talk you out of something you want. Recruiters have quotas and some jobs offer them better incentive pay than others. Be firm and get what you want. On a side note, the Marines are the only branch that will not guarantee a job before you actually swear in, which means you're rolling the dice that the job you want is even available. Talk to all the recruiters and see what's available to you. Good luck
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