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What are some very important things to know when going into the military?

Some information that may be helpful for a civilian to going into the military that may not be thought of until you are there?

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Sikawayi’s Answer

Hello Marco, thank you for your question. I would like for you to know and clearly understand that when you join the military your life is no longer your own. You don't get to publicly express your thoughts and opinions. You also need to know that there will be long separations from your family, you may miss very important event in your life like the birth of your child or a funeral. There are channels you can go through to try and get leave, but it depends on what's going on in the world and where your stationed as to whether or not your higher up's will grant your request. There are other branches to consider these are just 2 examples Best of luck.
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Scott’s Answer

Marco, I could spend an entire day on this, but Ill try and sum it up....

1) Choose your job wisely. Either do something fun and exciting, or do something that will give you credible civilian skills, don't just blindly accept whatever openings they have and accept them. Know your interests BEFORE you walk into the recruiters office.

2) Talk to more than one recruiter. Explore all the branches. Find what one is the best fit for YOU. Don't let patriotism or a uniform sway your decision, find what organization has the most to offer you, find what you are interested in. Be leery of pushy recruiters. A 'good' recruiter will give you options and discuss things with you, they may want to get you signed ASAP, but if you ask for more time to make a decision and they rush you, find another recruiter.

3) Basic training is what YOU put into it. Don't be first, don't be last, dont draw attention to yourself. You will have fun, it will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Sure, there will be a day that a drill sergeant is going to tear into you, but its nothing personal, its just 'your turn'. Understand that they will challenge you mentally and physically, but NEVER to a point that will harm you. Always remember that. 5 Million people have gone thru it before you, 5 Million will come next, its nothing the average person cant push thru as long as they understand its just an indoctrination. Its just a process to teach you how to follow orders and be resilient.

4) There will be bad days. You will be cold. None of your equipment will work right and you will 100% experience toxic leadership at some point. Learn from all these negatives, learn to appreciate the world outside the military and you won't take as much stuff for granted going forward.

(I was a recruiter for several years. Reach out to me if you have more questions) Good luck!
Thank you comment icon That was some good advice for me, thank you for that. Marco
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Ryan’s Answer

Hey Marco,

Great question and I wish I gave it more thought before I joined when I decided to enlist in the Marines in 2004. There are several things to keep in mind that may not be immediately apparent.

The military teaches you to become part of a collective, not an individual. So the transition back to civilian life is where most prior military have the most difficult transition. Especially when you join the military out of high school, these are critical years in your development and shape your mindset for years to come.

Being in the Marines was the greatest and worst experience of my life, I wouldn't trade it for anything, especially because of the relationships I've built through it and still have today.

Your MOS will dictate your lifestyle in the Military and expose you to a wide variety of things so be VERY clear on what your job is going to be so there will be less of a shock to your new environment. This is a huge change and you want to minimize the effort of coping so you can better coexist and thrive (rather than just trying to survive).

Here are some basic fundamental aspects you need to understand:

1. Understand the rank structure: The military operates on a strict hierarchy, and it's important to understand the rank structure and how it affects interactions with others.

2. Get in shape: Basic training is physically demanding, and it's important to prepare yourself physically before you arrive. Start a workout routine that includes cardio and strength training.

3. Learn military etiquette: The military has its own set of customs and etiquette, and it's important to learn them before arriving. This includes things like how to address superiors and how to properly wear your uniform.

4. Prepare for culture shock: Military life is different from civilian life, and it can be a significant adjustment. Prepare yourself for the new environment by researching military culture and talking to veterans.

5. Be prepared for long hours: Military life often involves long hours, especially during training or deployment. Be prepared to work hard and put in long hours.

6. Understand military benefits: The military offers a range of benefits, including healthcare, education, and housing. Be sure to understand the benefits available to you and how to access them.

7. Expect to be challenged: Military training is designed to challenge you physically and mentally. Expect to be pushed outside your comfort zone and to learn new skills.

Ryan recommends the following next steps:

Once you find your desired MOS, find prior military or Veterans and speak to them about how it really was. Sure, speak with a recruiter but remember his sole purpose is to find bodies and enlist them. He does not care about you.
Consider major options: Enlist full time or Reserve. This is a huge difference in commitment. It's very difficult to be in the Reserves and go to school, work, and manage all of your commitments. Otherwise, consider enlisting or if you have a college degree, consider OCS.
Most importantly talk to a variety of people. Your MOS is one aspect, the other is which unit you get assigned to. This will determine not just your location but how often you deploy, what your mission is and what kind of training you'll get.
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Rick’s Answer

When a person is considering joining the military they need to think about what they want to do in their future after the military as well whether they are only going in for an education or career. Then select the profession in the military that would best match that profession. Check out the different branches of service to identify the branch that would best align that profession to you. In most branches once you are in and have received your training after your first tour if you are not satisfied they allow you to change your job skills and be trained into a new profession. There are some job skills that require longer commitments i.e. doctors. You also need to consider whether you want to be an officer or enlisted member of the service and this will also vary between the branches on what kind of profession you will want to do. At all times you must also remember that you are going to join the armed forces of the United States and could be assigned other rolls as needed by the military. It was my honor to serve in the military and I have never regretted my service.
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Kess’s Answer

Hi Marco!

Honestly, I wish I had the foresight to ask this type of question before joining the Army. It wouldn't have changed my approach but I may have been a bit better prepared. The previous answers all have great points!

Consider both what you want to and don't want to do. When you take your ASVAB, that may help to guide your job selection. Consider studying for this test specifically instead of going in blind. The better you do, the more options you'll have. If you don't want to be enlisted, you'll need a college degree to become an officer. I believe the military can help you with this as well depending on their needs at the time. If you join as enlisted, depending on the branch, you may not have your choice of job. When I joined, the Army was the only one that guaranteed the job training of your choosing. What they didn't say: they can still use you for any other job.

Also, do your own research on what the job entails. "Healthcare Specialist" is a fancy term for Combat Medic.

Here are my big ones though:
Show up at the right time, in the right uniform, at the right place, and most of your day is already set up for success.
Volunteer! If you volunteer for tasks, schools, etc, that keeps you from being assigned the less desirable ones. Plus, the more schools you get under your belt, the more knowledge, expertise, and promotion points you have.
The best days you'll have in the military will be the best days of your life. Unfortunately, the other way is also true: the worst days in the military can be the worst of your life.

I absolutely loved my time in the Army and would 8/10 recommend it for someone else. The military is not for everyone.






Kess recommends the following next steps:

El Paso has Fort Bliss - consider trying to talk to some Soldiers or Marines stationed there.
Keep your head up! The worst days will always pass.
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William’s Answer

Keep in mind that you are serving a larger purpose - national defense and all that it encompasses depending on the mission. This is a greater purpose than just a paycheck, although the pay has increased substantially over the years and is competitive with equivalent civilian careers.

Also, if you are committed to a military career, you can have substantial benefits at the end of 20 years of service....benefits that many civilian in today's economy wish they had, including medical care, pension , etc.

In the meantime, it can be hard work, requiring self-discipline, teamwork, attention to detail, physical demands, etc. but very rewarding depending on the job you chose, so chose carefully.
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