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What has your experience in the military been like?

Someone who is in the military how has it affected your life in 20 years?

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Aedan’s Answer

As a background: I’m a Navy Pilot with 300 hours total, about to join an operational squadron after 4 years of flight training (due to factors out of my control), so take with a grain of salt.

Life in the military is a life of extremes. On the best day of my life, I landed a jet on an aircraft carrier for the first time. On the worst day of my life, I watched a close friend of mine die in a crash on a training mission. Both the best and worst people I have ever met are in the navy. The military is both simultaneously the tightest family you will ever have and the most callous organization that, at times, not only does not care about you, but even seems to hate you. I joined seeking adventure and sometimes felt like I received far more than I bargained for. It’s a roller coaster ride, with higher highs and lower lows than you’ll find anywhere else. The highs may be few and far between, but as long as you enjoy the ride, you won’t regret a thing.

Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Ishmael
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Ron’s Answer

Hi Ishmael,

I will agree with both of my Veteran brothers about highs and lows. I spent 9 years in uniform, part active duty Air Force and part Air National Guard.

I do not believe that there is a definitive answer to this question. Many factors will affect one's experience. The two biggest factors, in my belief, are the people you work with every day and YOU. Following up in a close third place would be your job. Even the lousiest of jobs can be more tolerant if you're with the right group of people. When I went from active duty to ANG, I had to be interviewed by my new supervisor. He immediately referred to me as a RAFSOB (Regular Air Force Son of........). When he saw that I took on the name proudly, he knew I would fit in the work center. Once I transferred in, I was then known as XRAFSOB for the remainder of my time.

When I was in the Air National Guard (ANG), after a few years I was transferred from my original job to another. Although I was in the same unit, the people in my new work center made doing the job sheer misery. And that is why I left. The people that worked in there had been working together for many years. My work center worked with this one all the time, so we all knew each other for years. Except my office didn't always see eye-to-eye with them. Then again, this holds true for any job in the private sector as well.

I have been out for many more years than I was in, however, I still associate with some of them. Because of the stuff you go through together, it sometimes form a strong bond. The end result though, is everyone will have their own experiences.
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Jamie’s Answer

My experience like others had it's ups and downs but I would do all 21 years of it again! I was an Active Duty Army Aviator for 21 years and built some of the most amazing relationships that I still have today including the one with my wife. The Army was like a 21 year class on Leadership and taught me so many things that have helped me to be successful today at Dell Technologies. Yes it is true, you don't get bonuses or yearly salary hikes (until promotion) that are commensurate with the corporate world but you are representing your country and hard to put a price on that. When you hit your 20 years and it's all said and done, you and your spouse have lifetime medical coverage and a regular retirement check you can count on and then move on to that next chapter. Like I said, it can be challenging on the family as well. My last assignment was seven hours away from my wife and daughter; I saw them every 30 to 45 days for two years and decided to retire so that I could be back with my family every day for the last two years of her high school. But as I said, for the most part, the Army took care of me and my family. My wife and I were fortunate at times to have our branches send us to the same location even though we had not gotten married yet. So, all in all, I would do it again.
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Jacob’s Answer

Hi, Ishmael,

To give some context, I served as an Infantry Rifle and Mortar Platoon Leader in the Army for four years.

I agree with Aedan's theme (and appreciate the honesty in his answer) - military service is filled with intense highs and lows, prolonged periods of profound boredom followed by short bursts of paralyzing excitement.

Military service is absolutely a lifestyle. It dominates every facet of your life. I am both extremely proud of my time in the Army and hugely relieved that I am no longer serving. I think that might be the best way to think about military service - juxtaposition of opposing feelings. The Army had a huge influence on the person I am today and has absolutely fueled my professional success since I got out in 2017 but I definitely have scars (mental and physical) from it.

If the military is something you're interested in, the best thing I can recommend is to think very carefully about WHY you want to join. Military service is drastically different from how it's portrayed in film and the media - there is probably nothing further from reality than how each branch of service advertises itself. The simple fact of the matter is that being in the military isn't a video game - in one way or another, there is pain in serving.

Think carefully, talk about the decision with your family and friends and try to find veterans/active service members to talk to. I'll recommend a couple of books that you could check out that I think give a more realistic depiction of service (sorry, they're both focused on life as an infantryman in the Army - my perspective is biased by my own experience).

Good luck - feel free to add a comment on this response if you have any other questions.

Jacob recommends the following next steps:

"War" by Sebastian Junger (https://bookshop.org/books/war-9780446556248/9780446556224)
"The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell" by John Crawford (https://bookshop.org/books/the-last-true-story-i-ll-ever-tell-an-accidental-soldier-s-account-of-the-war-in-iraq/9781594482014)
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Tommy’s Answer

My experience was tremendous. I was not prepared to go to college after high school nor could I financially afford to go that route. I was an athlete and team player and had very little knowledge of the military. It truly was the best thing I ever did. I completed 20 years in the Army and everything I have in life is because of the foundation it gave me.
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Jason’s Answer

Hello Ishmael,

I served 3 years in a fast paced unit in the Army, which was the 82nd Airborne Division. To be specific 2/504 PIR, which is an airborne infantry unit. At the time I loved doing what I did, however it was extremely time consuming and definitely put the stresses on you. I cannot explain the value/lessons I learned in this short time; from self discipline, accountability, leadership, paying attention to detail, and others that just are not coming to mind. I was married at the time and honestly it is so hard being married and being gone all the time, so when my time was up I chose to save my marriage and not re-enlist. Looking back, I wish I would have stayed in, but I have been married over 30 years, so all is good. If you are looking for a purpose in life and unsure what to do, then consider serving in of the branches and there are so many things to do and offer many life lessons.
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Dawn’s Answer

Hello - I am 4th generation military and served in the US Army. It was the best experience of my life! It helped me develop as a leader and to this day I use the skill I learned to be successful in my carrier at my current company now for over 20 years. The skills you learn in the military a very useful in corporate america.
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Connor’s Answer

Hello Ishmael,

I hope this answer finds you well. I am currently serving in the United States Marine Corps on active duty and have been doing so for over five years now. For me, I have never had any regrets on deciding to enlist. In fact, last year I decided to sign up for another four years. As those above me have stated, the military can be quite the wild ride. There have been weeks and even months for me where everything seemed to be going well. I have had certain jobs and billets that I loved doing and was excited to execute my duties in. But in contrast, I have also been put under a great deal of stress at some points in my career. Mission accomplishment is first and foremost while in the service, and sometimes needs to be accomplished by any means necessary even if that means staying late after work or meticulously executing small, receptive tasks.

I look back at my time and can honestly tell you the good outweighs the bad. I have met people from all around the country that I consider my brothers and have gained a lasting bond with others that I think would be hard to find outside the military. I have had the opportunity to spend 3 years of my life in Japan, and gained a plethora of new experiences and learned a lot about myself.

Like many other jobs, it's what you make of it. I know people who have put in an immense amount of work in while on active duty, and are reaping the benefits today, whether that be more money or leadership opportunities. I have also met Marines with very little work ethic or sound decision making abilities who struggle and even find themselves in a worse situation getting out than when they first joined.

My question to you: Who do you want to be?

Crush your goals and outwork those around you.

-Connor

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Byron’s Answer

Hello,

I served 6 years in the United States Airforce and it was the best experience of my life. It helped me develop as a leader and to this day I use the skill I learned to be successful in my carrier at verizon.

Thanks,
Byron
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