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thoughts on joining the ARMY

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by cdharmon, Dec 24, 2005.

  1. cdharmon

    cdharmon New Member

    Dec 24, 2005
    i'm 19 years old and have finished 1 year of college. i have been planning on going to school this next semester, then working the summer until december, and then going to travel asia for 4 months with one of my close friends. after that i am planning on enlisting in the army.

    i want to do my 9 weeks of basic then enroll for airborne training. maybe serve some time overseas doing whatever, and coming back and trying out for the special forces.

    now, from what i read in another thread regarding this, being in the military has proven a usefull, maturing, coming of age thing, but the general attitude seemed to regard it as depressing, often screwing up your life.

    now i work construction when i dont go to school and both my coworkers and boss were either in the marines or the army rangers. now when they talk about it their eyes light up. my friend bill served in the rangers over in the persian gulf war, and he said he would love to go back, it was the highlight of his life.

    why so many differences in opinions? is it what you make it or what?
  2. LBTRS

    LBTRS Member

    Dec 12, 2004
    Do you want to work construction all your life? (not that there is anything wrong with construction but is it what you want to do?) As you can probably figure out, the infantry doesn't prepare you for life outside the military. If that's what you're looking for you may want to pick a different job or service.

    If you're looking to serve your country, grow up and have some fun then the Army or USMC may be just for you.

    As with everything, some people love it and some people hate it. It is all what YOU make of it. I'm Active Duty Navy and have been for 19 years and have met many that don't like the Navy but as many or more who love the Navy. I could hate it if I allowed myself to, instead I thrive on the challenge and work to be the best I can at what I do.
  3. Winger Ed.

    Winger Ed. Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    North Cent. Texas
    That pretty much sums it up fella. Some people live their whole life and don't figure that out, be it concerning the military, school, their job, their marriage, or pretty much everything else too. Some folks adapt well and thrive in the Service, some just aren't cut out to be in the military.

    Read down the other threads about this subject and the other services, and the Parris Island Range Report thread. Some darn interesting points of view and experiances in them.

    I could only add 2 things to all of them that I didn't see mentioned, or covered well enough:

    1. At this point in the game-- since college is reachable, you'd be wise to finish. Then, go in as an officer. The responsibilities are greater, but so is the money, living/working condidtions, and the prestige.

    2. If you go into some form or fashion of Special Forces, SEALS, etc., or the Marines--- if it isn't something you want to do or become a member of with all your heart,,,,, there is a very good chance it will ruin your life with the 'bad papers' you'll get--which will haunt you for the rest of your life, or possibly even destroy you.

    If you 'quit', washout due to personal weaknesses, or lock horns with the military in those fields of endeavor, you'll lose. In my almost 8 years as a Marine, I saw it happen over and over. Often to otherwise good kids that really shouldn't have joined the military in the first place.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2005
  4. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    If you can finish college, do it.

    If you feel compelled to join the military to be a part of a warrior culture, join the Marines.

    The Army serves as a tool for upward social and economic mobility for most recruits, and you'll encounter that in the infantry more than any other job in the Army. It requires the least technical skills. Most I knew in the Army who made a move to the "elite corners" did so just to be around competent, motivated soldiers. They distained the regular infantry for its boredom, complacency, and incompetence. Either way, the infantry gives you very little marketable concrete job skills.

    Make the decision you're going to use the military to teach you a skill you can't afford on your own to buy, as money for college to buy whatever skill you want AFTER you get out (ie - plan on being deployed often in today's service), or join the Marines because you have a calling to it.

    And yes, its all what you make it. There's no magic wand that gets waved over your head that changes you. Either the good things the military does for its recruits are there intrinsically and they are able to foster it, or its not there and it makes for a very bad tour.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2005
  5. campbellcj

    campbellcj New Member

    Aug 20, 2004
    To echo the above, first of all, I have extremely high admiration for those of you who serve or have served our Nation in the armed forces. That said, if at all possible, I would suggest that you would be better off completing your education and then at that time re-visiting your decision, at which time you would will be set up for better income potential (whether in public or private sector employment), and also more mature in terms of deciding what you wish to experience and accomplish in life.

    Whatever you decide, do it well, and good luck!
  6. Devonai

    Devonai Senior Member

    Mar 24, 2003
    Bullplop. You will have a hundred times more patience than your contemporaries, and what most people consider as intolerable and unacceptable you will consider a very minor inconvenience.

    The Infantry I know is motivated, squared away, and well capable of delivering death and destruction to the enemy. And again, you'll be capable of performing under pressure in circumstances that would leave most people in need of a change of underwear.
  7. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Senior Member

    Apr 28, 2005
    Missoula, Montana
    It is very much about attitude. My brother has always been the bright, obnoxious type that resists conformity and locks horns with most authority figures. He is also the spontanious type and made such a decision without looking before he lept--he joined the Army. He hates it. He is in Iraq right now. He hates it. The funny thing is, when he came home on break, we could all tell it had done him some good. He seemed to have matured a little and was much more polite. We had never seen him take his hat off indoors or address others as "sir" or "mam." I think even if he hates every minute of it, if he survives the experience, the Army will be a good thing for him and he will eventually recognize it as such. But the point is, if your attitude isn't right, the military can be a miserable experience.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2005
  8. Phantom Warrior

    Phantom Warrior Senior Member

    Mar 7, 2003
    I've only been in for about six months (three and a half months were spent at basic). So I don't have a tremendous amount of information for you. But I'll share my experience so far.

    I signed my contract in the fall of 2004. I was in DEP for about 9 months while I finished up my degree. (Yes, I am a college graduate and yes I'm going to OCS eventually, before anyone brings that up). I did decide to go enlisted initially, rather than officer. Briefly, I wasn't sure about the selection process, I would have forgone a significant bonus check, and I felt some enlisted experience wasn't a bad thing. I signed up to be Infantry. I could have done something else (anything else, actually), but I'll probably be doing office-type work after I get out, so I decided to go for broke and do something exciting for a few years.

    I spent the summer at Ft. Benning, GA; the Home of the Infantry. Basic is not that bad, at least in our company. Our chaplain told us stories about when he went to Ft. Benning (he was former Infantry, back around the Persian Gulf War). After hearing stories about drill sergeants throwing rifles through ceilings and making the privates take their bunks and wall lockers down stairs and remake the bay on the PT field, I felt a lot better about my situation. It will be stressful. You'll get tired of getting in trouble for other people's mistakes. But you will come out in better shape and with the basic skills to start learning your job. You will be the subject matter expert of NOTHING, so don't think you know everything.

    I've been stationed here in Schweinfurt w/ 1-18 Infantry for about two months now. It's interesting. I'm in the battalion S-3 Operations shop (we handle planning and stuff). When infantry isn't it the field you do a lot of busy work. Details and stuff. Cleaning, etc. I've picked up trash, painted, laid carpet, all kinds of stuff. Fortunately, I got seconded to the arms room, so I've been learning how to fix stuff, run the arms room, and might end up going to armorer school (which would be tight).

    Here are some (hopefully) useful thoughts. In no particular order...

    1. You will meet all kinds of people, esp in the Infantry. You have some people that are high speed and squared away and some people that are useless. You meet people straight out of high school and people w/ college degrees. People w/ the whole world by the horns (our PG at basic was like that) and people who joined the Army because they had run out of options.

    2. Your life is not your own. This was hard for me to adjust to, because I'm used to being in college and do whatever I want. But you do what people tell you to do. You get up at 0600 for formation at 0630. If your platoon sergeant doesn't release you at 1700, even if there is nothing to do, you don't leave work. If the acting First Sergeant schedules you to pull ho guard (don't ask) on Christmas Eve, you have to be there. And if the Army goes to war, you go too.

    3. That's why a lot of people are suggesting you go the officer route. Officers (and to a lesser extent, NCOs) don't have to put up with as much crap. On the other hand, there is no shame in being a Joe (enlisted guy) and how things run really depends on your platoon sergeant. And college is expensive as heck and getting more expensive every year. It wouldn't be a bad idea to let the Army pay for the rest of your education.

    4. They do compensate you pretty well for all this. The base pay isn't super. It's decent for the amount of education you have. But the benefits are outstanding. A place to live, food (well, DFAC food), insurance, health care, the works. And currently the enlistment bonuses are OFF THE HOOK. The guy next to me at basic got 20K for signing. No education, no special abilities, just infantry for four years.

    Bottom line, the Army annoys me a lot. But I'm learning stuff and it is an interesting experience. I predict as I settle into the Army a little more it will improve even more. And I think, in the long run, it will be a tremendous experience.

    That's about it, for now. Here are a couple of links to thread I started before I went off to basic. You may find them interesting. They both have a lot of good information.
    Army Basic Training. What to expect?
    Rifle practice for the Army?
  9. 71Commander

    71Commander Senior Member

    Sep 21, 2003
    Headin back to Johnson City
    I could say someting, but I won't. :cool:
  10. DunedinDragon

    DunedinDragon Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    I was in the military for 9 1/2 years and I would not have traded a day of it. I would also say that I would not want to be back in it either. I personally find it a shame that there are so many folks around that have never experienced it. If you allow the military to do with you what they will and not give in to the half-hearted whining you see in the lowest levels of recruits and commit yourself to the mission and lifestyle, you will emerge from the experience better prepared than any of your non-military experienced counterparts to be able to excel in whatever field you pursue.

    The military will give you unlimited possibilities, but it's up to you to capitalize on them. After 9 1/2 years I left the military and pursued my career in the private sector. I have no doubt that the skills I learned in the military regarding being focused on the mission and getting the job done regardless of the impediments gave me an advantage over my contemporaries and eventually allowed me to have enough money and success to retire at the ripe old age of 48.

    Give it everything you've got and you'll get back more than you can imagine. Even if you just do 4 years, but do them well, you will still gain some benefit in being part of that brotherhood of people willing to stand up for their country.
  11. P-32

    P-32 Senior Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    the dry side of Washington St
    I spent 20 1/2 years in the Navy working on about every type of airplane the Navy owned at one time or another as an egress/environmental tech. Like any job, it had it's ups and downs. I loved the travel. I have seen things only others can read about. I have done things others wish they could do. :rolleyes:

    I wish I had gone to school got the sheep skin and flew as a crewman. No my eyes were and are not good enough to have been a pilot but I loved airplanes anyways.

    Since you are in school now stay there and grad. Like one of the other posters said he went in enlisted first, which isn't all that bad of an idea as the better Officer's were enisted at one time. It really is all about attitude as well, keep an open mind, talk to your seniors, and no I don't mean brown nose.

    Set your goals and reach for the stars.
  12. C-grunt

    C-grunt Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2005
    Phoenix Az
    I have been Army Infantry now for about 3 years. If you want to go SF, the Infantry is the way to go. Even if you dont end up going you will still be part of a high speed combat unit. You will also gain a lot of experience and tactical knowledge.

    DO NOT sign up for the course that sends you to SF training right after basic. You will have a lot harder of a time because basic training teaches you just that, the basics. SF is extremely advanced and they want you to know things that omly come from being at your unit.

    As for when you get out, you dont have a whole lot of practical training ,unless you go Private Military, but you do have skills that employers are looking for. You are highly disciplined, work well under pressure, dont think a 12 hour work day is all that bad, and brainwashed into believing there is no sick days. Plus I have been told by numerous cops that the police department like to hire Infantry over any other MOS.
  13. Citadel99

    Citadel99 Member

    Jan 13, 2003
    I'm an Army officer at Fort Bragg. I'd recommend a little of both options. Get an ROTC contract or scholarship from your college or another. That'll pay for your schooling. Join the Army reserves or NG in the SMP (Simultaneous Membership Program). You'll go to basic during the summer, be a Joe at a NG or Reserve unit, and get paid about $600 a month while in school. Then, upon graduation you'll be a 2LT.

    Downside to this is the possibility of a deployment with the NG/Reserve unit during college. A plus side is if you decide to get out after your three or four year officer contract, the enlisted time counts against the IRR so you have a small chance of being called up after you get out.

    Feel free to PM me with any questions. By the way, I took the OCS contract route myself.


    Oh yeah, if you want to go to Airborne school you better get that in writing in your contract or you won't go. Believe me, I've seen it many times. And, by all means go, jumping's fun and you get paid extra to do it!
  14. Olys45

    Olys45 New Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    Well here is the pitch for the Air Force.

    I have been associated with it for over 16 years, and I have over 14.5 years on Active Duty under my belt. I have been an Aircraft Mechanic, taught people (Cilvilians, Active, Reserve, Guard and Republic of Singapore) all about the KC135 Hydraulic and IFR Systems and just until a few short months ago even a Recruiter. I was in the Inactive Reserve (I was out for almost two years) for about 22 months, so I have seen life on the outside and life on the inside.

    If you want the highest quality of life and the best chance (depending on which job you pick/get) of completing your college go to the Air Force. By the highest quality of life I mean where you live, work and play is going to be the nicest around. The food is decent to better than the some of the branches also.

    If you want to be one of the high speed low drag types, we have our own Special Forces also. Combat Control, Pararescue, (CCT/PJ's) Survivial Escape Evasion and Resistance (SERE) Instructors are the hardest to qualify for, in that order, and if you want to live with the grunts and call in airstrikes when the going gets tough look into being an Tactical Air Control Party (TAC-P).

    The PAST Test is a real kick in the apple bags, so you have to be in shape to pass the test in order to list those jobs at the MEPS.

    Most of the jobs in the USAF will correlate directly to the outside world and our training is accredited as college level courses through the Southern Associations of Schools (I think that was the name), but we have our own Community College of the Air Force (CCAF).

    I have spoken to many retired/former members of other branches and they either 1) "Pick on me" for just being in the Air Force because we have a better quality of life. 2) Wish that they would have joined the Air Force. or 3) Tell everybody that they meet to join the Air Force.

    One nice thing about the Air Force is that you will have a GUARANTEED JOB either before you leave for Basic or you will be qualified for an area of jobs and then pick one at basic and unless you fail out or are a knucklehead and get into a lot of trouble it is a GUARANTEED JOB, some of the other branches :cough:cough: army :cough:cough only guarantee the TRAINING and not the JOB... read the contract! I always had copies of contracts so I could show any applicant exactly what they are going to be signing... if a Recruiter won't show you anything like that, walk away!

    Also don't believe any Recruiter that tells you "Just go down to MEPS, to see what jobs you qualifiy for!" I have news for you, after you fill out the Medical Prescreen form and the Recruiter faxes it into MEPS and he gets the clearance for you to process, you are tentativly qualified unless you tell the Doc something other than what you told your Recruiter, or they find something that you didn't know you had.

    You can take the ASVAB before you set up a time to process at MEPS (take the physical), combined with that score and the medical prescreen a Recruiter can give you an idea what jobs you qualifiy for. Please understand what your recruiter says and what the final word the Doc says is two different things, but I could tell somebody that, "Hey you qualifiy for this job based on your score, as long as your physical is good you can pick this job if it is available!"

    Oh yeah, one more thing, if any branch is offering an enlistment bonus it is for one of two reasons...
    1) That job is hard to fill because nobody wants to do it. (at one time Fuel Cell Maintenance)
    2) That job is hard to fill because it is hard to qualifiy for. (Linguist)

    I hope this helps!
  15. BriGuy1

    BriGuy1 New Member

    Feb 15, 2005
    Detroit, Michigan
    Why there are widely varying opinions about the life impact of time spent in the service? Different people experience the same thing, yet learn vastly different things from that experience. Here is what I learned from six years as an enlisted (sergeant) in the Marines.

    Leadership matters. A good leader will not only acomplish the mission, a good leader will attract the best people to them like a magnet. Leading means teaching, being a mentor, coaching, inspiring, and possessing ethics that are beyond reproach. Selfish, spoiled, self-serving, unethical people should not ever be placed in charge of anything more important than a parked car.

    ???? happens. Life is complex. In any complex organization, it is not possible to accomplish anything without making mistakes. Show me someone who does not make mistakes, and I will show you a liar, a cheat, or a person performing far below their abilities. After all, the best way to do nothing wrong is to do nothing.

    Respect is earned. To earn it, you have to give it, both to superiors and subordinates.

    Never, ever date the same girl your buddy is dating, even if she assures you that they are "just friends".

    Sign up, you won't have any regrets.
  16. neoncowboy

    neoncowboy Member

    Jul 11, 2004
    land of cotton
    You may want to give some considerations to mission scope and where your own personal morals are on the subject of our nation's foreign policy.

    As a member of the armed services, you will be out at the sabre's tip, so to speak. The sabre being our nation's foreign policy.

    Are you comfortable aligning your whole life with a foreign policy of:
    global interventionism?
    taking sides in regional conflicts that are older than our nation?
    sacrificing American blood and treasure for the goals of expanding the 'american way of life' to people/nations who may or may not even want it?
    being the world's policeman?
    conducting social experiments abroad?
    fighting the 'war on terror', possibly even against Americans?
    and finally...
    making enemies for our nation?

    Of course America's military is a distinguished and very honorable institution...but it just seems like the last 75 years or more have given that military a direction that just isn't good for the nation or the world.

    And to, maybe you see it differently and drink the whole 'we're-morally-superior-and-owe-it-to-the-world-to-straighten-everybody-else-out' Kool-Aid. If so, the military will be a really good fit.

    I just can't see placing my whole life in alignment with the stupid, arrogant and fruitless mission that has befallen our nation's military/foreign policy over the last 75-100 years.
  17. Lebben-B

    Lebben-B Member

    Dec 11, 2005
    What's the point of sending an infantryman to Ft S

    22 years ago I was much like you - I was in college and at loose ends. I decided to enlist because of the college money the Army offered (the then-princely sum of $20,000.) Then the recruiter said the Army would give me an extra $8,000 if I joined the infantry for 4 years and by the way - if you take an Airborne contract, we'll throw in another $75 a month for jump pay. Sounded pretty good to a poor hillbilly from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    So I did my hitch (Wound up in Division and then PCS'd to West Berlin) and got out as a SGT. before I got out, my team sergeant cornered me and told me that I was probably going to come back in. I thought he was full of it.

    When I got back to Charlottesville, I hated it. I hated college and all the Mickey Mouse BS that went with it. I thought, "Man - the University sure has changed." But it hadn't. I had changed. My study habits were better and I was more organized and more articulate in class. But still, I hated it. Here I was, a guy that had jumped out of airplanes, had traveled all over the US and Europe, and now...I was just another student.

    Upon graduation in 1989, I immediately re-enlisted and haven't looked back.

  18. LBTRS

    LBTRS Member

    Dec 12, 2004
    To the original poster, I recommend you take any advice given so far EXCEPT the above.

    You're joining the Military, not summer camp. If you want "the best quality of life" DON'T join the Military. Nothing wrong with the Air Force but every Air Force Recruiter I know (and I know dozens of them) sells "quality of life" and leaves out the fact that you're joining the MILITARY.

    Since you've decided to join the Military do something you can be proud of for the rest of your life and share your SACRIFICES with your children and your grandchildren. Serving your country is about sacrifice, not about "the best quality of life".

    I've been doing this a while and want to share a personal experience with you. My job in the Navy has me working directly with the public. I meet and work with military veterans daily. Whenever I meet a veteran from the Army they proudly announce "I was in the Army". The Navy, "I was in the Navy for eight years". The Marine Corps, "I'm a Marine and did eight years on Active Duty". Unfortunately this is what I get almost EVERYTIME I meet an Air Force Veteran, "I was in the military". Then you have to ask them what service they were in and they almost always embarrassingly state "the Air Force" or "ONLY the Air Force".

    This is certainly not a bash on the Air Force as they are a fine service, however, they seem to have paid a price for that "quality of life" that I'm unwilling to pay. I want to be proud of my service to my country not be ashamed every time I talk about it.

    If the Air Force looks appealing to you make sure you're joining for the right reasons and not just for the "quality of life".
  19. dm1333

    dm1333 Member

    Dec 21, 2005
    Look before you leap

    I joined the service out of high school and did my 4 years, got out to go to school, and joined the Army Reserve while I was in school. Because I joined the wrong service and had the wrong job (I thought electronics would give me something to fall back on) I was unhappy during my first 4 years. The Reserve was great but by the time I was done with school the Army was not accepting prior service enlistments. I had planned on going into intel and then applying for OCS. I decided to join the Coast Guard and become a Boatswains Mate. I spent two years on a patrol boat and then transferred to a Motor Lifeboat Station in Washington. That was were all my thoughts of OCS went out the door. Being in the right job and the right service for me makes up for a lack of money or "quality of life". I can't say that I enjoy being soaked, hypothermic and sore as hell from being banged around in rough seas but it gives me a thrill and makes me feel like I'm still alive at 40. Think about what you want from the service and then go from there. I really think you can't go wrong with infantry or any of the combat arms, or with a job in one of the other services where you have to put your ass on the line.

  20. unixguy

    unixguy Member

    Apr 19, 2004
    Albany, OR
    My own experience in the army as REMF

    I was an REMF during my 3 1/2 years in the Army. I joined after college with training and work experience as a computer programmer. This allowed me to do basic as an e3, with an automatic promotion to e4 after something like 8 weeks at my first duty station. Oh yeah, and I got to skip AIT.

    I had been told that the military was what you make of it, and that no matter what your designation was you would be able to bring your own special skills to the jobs you're assigned. This was definitely the case for about my first 1 1/2 years-- I knew Novell networking and put together a network for the rest of the programmers in my department. This allowed me to come into contact with the group who was really responsible for the networking, and I switched groups to work more closely with them. We ended up upgrading the network for a 4-star and 2-star general and their staff. All of this was within my first 18 months (or so) of arriving at my first duty station.

    At this point, I decided to look into OCS so was interested in starting to gather my letters of recommendations. I was "loaned" to the computer support guy for the generals mentioned above for about 3 months (doing computer support, because he generally didn't know what he was doing). 3 months turned into 1 year, at which point I realized that although "on average" your career in the Army (and perhaps military in general) may be what you make of it, there will definitely be times that no matter what you know and can do, your skills will be under used.

    I'd like to second what Phantom Warrior said about your life is not your own-- when the military needs to have a replacement show up for a detail to drive around and pick up trash on Saturday morning it won't matter that you were planning on a merit badge clinic for the local Scout troop.

    You will also come in contact with people who (in my opinion) shouldn't be in leadership. I was on a detail (one NCO and two E4s) to set up chairs for a retirement ceremony. When the NCO (who happened to be female (I mention it because it seemed relevant at the time- I couldn't imagine a male doing that sort of thing)) discovered that the other E4 was 2 months pregnant she (the NCO) told her to go home. The NCO then proceeded to stand around while I unloaded the truck on my own. A soldier who was running by stopped and ended up helping me unload about 1/2 the truck-- it wasn't until a few days later that I saw that soldier in BDUs and Captain's bars that I fully realized that maybe I'm not the only one that thought it was rediculous for me to be doing all of that work myself.

    These sorts of incidents are extremely difficult for me to put up with, so realize that if you would have problems putting this sort of thing aside, your time in the military may be difficult to put up with. This isn't like a civilian job that you can quit when you realize you're working for or with putzes.

    I will say this: my time in the military worked out extremely well for me-- they paid back my student loans (which were either $20K or $32K, I don't remember at the moment), and the letter of recommendation I ended up getting from a 2-star general was to help me get out of the military (with an HD) rather than into OCS.

    Apart from the desktop support portion of my military time, I was extremely satisfied with the networking, unix, and email support that I provided to the post-- I was the only guy in our office who knew Unix, and provided support to some excellent folks (civilians) while they got up to speed running HP Openmail on unix.

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