There are many reasons why someone would want to join the U.S. military. The varying reasons consist of, but not limited to: the need to find direction in one’s life, to travel the world, patriotism, stability (to include finical security), gain U.S. citizenship, family heritage, fight terrorism, to challenge themselves at a very high level, gain a new perspective of the world and lastly, wanting to help the unfortunate. The decision to join comes in many forms and is subjective to the individual in obscure ways.

The mindset behind choosing which branch one would enlist with is subjective to the individual. It could be as simple as a feeling of connection to a particular branch, whatever the reason or reasons may be. Perhaps the reputation of that branch would best fit their personality. Each of the four branches, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force (leaving out the Coast Guard because they are not Department of Defense), are as diverse as the individuals who join their ranks.

When joining the U.S. military there are a few aspects one must consider. Enlisting in the military should not be taken lightly, nor should it be a compulsive decision manifesting from an underlining problem. I’m not saying joining the military compulsively would be a mistake; personality has a major impact on the individual perspective of serving. That is why when considering joining the military, one should become introspective and enlist after doing research in which branch would be best suited for them, then research every job within that branch. The typical enlistment contract can range from three to eight years, which is a long time to be stuck in an uncomfortable environment. This could easily jade a person and hinder them from reenlisting.

There can be many positive facets about serving in the military but there are also negative aspects to consider. Of course, both positive and negative viewpoints would be subjective. Being as objective as possible, here are a few positive considerations. If one would decide not to reenlist, as long as they get discharged honorably, the VA will pay for college tuition. There are two ways the VA will do this. One is called the Montgomery GI bill and the other is the Post 9/11 GI bill. There are pros and cons to each of these. Having the opportunity to greatly build a resume with military experience but also having a college degree would be incredibly beneficial to ones’ future.

There is no other fraternity, brotherhood or connection like the one you will find in the military once you pass all the required beginning portions of training and join the ranks amongst your newly found brothers and sisters. There is no stronger bond made than the one made between men in war. This aspect is underrated about serving in the military. It doesn’t always matter if two people serve in the same branch or not. When they see that American flag worn on each other’s uniform, there is nothing they won’t do to protect each other. Doesn’t matter what their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) is, which branch, race or religion they belong to. You will quickly realize that the only thing you see is your brother or sister in danger and will find yourself running towards chaos. For those searching for comradery, a sense of belonging or unconditional acceptance, there is no better solution than enlisting in the military.

The skills, virtues, values and ethics a person will gain will stay with them forever. Being in the military forces people to take responsibility for their own actions in extreme ways. This virtue alone is valuable no matter how you perceive it. Becoming virtuous in ways many civilians will never understand will change an individuals’ perception of the world eternally. Each of the four branches have their own core values, which are derived from exceptional morals. Having pride in one’s self, ones’ actions and their respective branches will absolutely carry over to civilian life whenever the time comes. The work ethics expected from a person is also an underrated, and yet highly useful aspect when considering enlistment. These are only a few positive modalities about becoming a member of the military. There are also negative facets.

Time spent away from family is the largest hardship one has to consider before signing their military contract. Whether it’s deployments, field problems, post/base lockdowns (any numerous reasons), curfews or late night accountability formations, there are countless hours, days, weeks, months and years which will be spent away from family and loved ones. The divorce rate within the military is high and time spent away from loved ones has a large part to play. There aren’t too many ways around this, so try and understand this, being assigned to a unit is much like the contract of marriage. The two of you will be joined together for better or worse until death do you part. Until whichever unit you get reassigned to. Some units’ do train more than others, some stay in the field longer. Some deploy more frequently while others don’t deploy at all. Of course, all of this will be a factor when choosing your MOS. Again, all of the above can be applied to each MOS. This is why becoming introspective and taking everything into consideration is paramount before swearing an oath to your country. Every word we speak carries weight.

The personality types which feed off of being different than the person next to them will find it more difficult to adjust to the military way of life. Once signing a designated amount of years to Uncle Sam, the government owns you. They will dictate how and when you physically exercise, what you wear, when and where you can go on leave and also personal mannerisms. Most civilians don’t realize when their hands are in their pockets or if they are walking and talking on their cell phones. When you earn the right to wear a branch’s respective uniform, those are two constants within all the branches. While in uniform, hands do not belong in your pockets and walking and talking on a cell phone is prohibited. Those are just examples of how you will be told to live your life in uniform. This may sound trivial to most, but to some, always being told how to live their lives will become a constant source of frustration and a burden.

You will have enormous amounts of responsibility in spite of your age. This can be defined as both a positive or negative depending on how you view it. One could find themselves as a twenty-two-year-old Infantry Sergeant who has to lead a fire team inside a building under fire. This action alone will permanently imprint on someone. You could be a thirty-year-old crew chief on a helicopter and if you miss something on a maintenance check you will endanger everyone who flies on that bird. There isn’t a single job in the military which can be overlooked or taken for granted. Perhaps some jobs require higher mental capacity than others but they all will demand high levels of performance.

Serving in the military is an incredible honor but cannot be taken lightly. America has the most prestigious and well-trained military force in the world for a reason. It’s not solely about the quantity of individuals; it’s more about the quality of individuals. Do yourself a favor, if you are absolutely set on enlisting in the U.S. military, take this advice. Research as much as you can about each one of the branches. They’ve all had their defining moments in history but they also have different missions. No matter what a recruiter will tell you or show you, follow your heart and your passion. Out of the four branches, there will be a correlating MOS to a job in the civilian sector you can gain experience in. Again, remember why we have the greatest military in the world. It’s not about the quantity of individuals; it’s about the quality of individuals. If you are not passionate about an MOS or interested in it at all, do not sign a three to eight-year contract.

Who am I to give advice on this topic? I was the person who made a compulsive decision on which branch I served with but also which MOS I had chosen. I thirsted for comradery and direction in my life. At twenty-one years old I chose to enlist in the U.S. Army and become an Infantry soldier even though I had never been physically active before that. Basic training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) were not as easy for me as it was for others. I struggled the most at the end of our FTX (field training exercise) during the long ruck march to honor hill. Once standing next to my fellow, newly earned, cross rifled brethren with bloody heels and a sweat drench uniform, I knew I belonged there. If I would have done research into how physically demanding the Infantry was, I would have tried to prepare myself accordingly.

After I left the Army, I found Infantry skills don’t exactly transition broadly into civilian life, so I went into Law Enforcement. While being a cop I heard about guys with my background, or similar, signing up with PMCs (private military corporation) to go overseas for various jobs. I applied for one of these jobs, was vetted, and deployed on a contract. After fulfilling my contractual oblation, I went to college. I spent two years in college thanks to the VA till recently when I put college on hold to go through a vetting course for another PMC. I am currently overseas providing private security. While I did make a compulsive decision about my enlistment, it was not a bad choice for me. With my personality, I fit in well with the Infantry. The advice I give is from the life experiences I have encountered.

“Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.” – Napoleon

Do not make an uninformed decision to serve in the U.S. military. Find which branch will be best suited to you. Find an MOS which interests you but also one you can use when you get out, and lastly, serve with passion. Being inspired and inspiring are the cornerstones of our lives which, too often, go under appreciated. Be the person who would inspire you. Seek inspiration from those who you admire. But most importantly, don’t ever be afraid of failure.

It’s not about the quantity of individuals; it’s about the quality of the individuals. – Z

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