What Every Student Needs to Know About Military Enlistment

The United States has always prided itself on having the most robust and effective volunteer military force in the world. While military service is not necessarily the first thing your run-of-the-mill high school or college student wants to enlist for, we should credit the United States military for providing a wealth of benefits to potential recruits who may have, or continue to be on the fence about military enlistment. However, the price of maintaining the world’s most powerful volunteer military force requires an aggressive stance on the part of military recruiters; at the end of the day, these people are charged with drawing in extremely capable young people for years of military service. This has become especially difficult as of late thanks to unpopular wars and military engagements that followed the tragedy of September 11, 2001. As a result of new strategies employed by military recruiters in this day and age, it has become even more important for students and young people to know exactly what they’re getting into before signing on the dotted line.

Serving One’s Country Before One’s Self

The decision to ultimately join the military is one that should primarily be made as a result of the love and dedication one has for his or her country. A decision to join the military should never be made solely on the basis of the immediate and future benefits gained for enlisting, and should instead be based in the person’s desire to protect the United States and its people from danger. Fortunately, we live in a country and an age where conscription and forced military service is a thing of the past, which makes it all the more important and necessary for potential recruits to be wary of the tactics military recruiters use to convince them that a military career is the best way to go.

The benefits of military enlistment in the United States are certainly second to none, and understanding them should be part of any potential recruit’s decision making process. Perhaps the most popular benefit offered to military recruits is the promise of helping to fund their post-high school education through the GI Bill. The GI Bill, or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, has been pivotal in ensuring the United States’ military remains the strongest military force in the world, and with college expenses at historical highs, the GI Bill is all the more appealing. Although this benefit is truly one of the best ways to achieve a higher education in the United States, one should never feel like joining the military is the only option for affording one, as several domestic programs still exist in order to ensure that education remains possible for every citizen of the United States.

Depending on the potential enlistee’s talents and interests, the US Military offers no less than five major branches to choose from. Perhaps most popular among the branches is the US Army, which boasts nearly 600,000 active personnel, and over a million in total combined strength. The Army is the core of the United States’ military – all potential recruits should consider this branch if they have general military interests. The US Navy and Coast Guard are branches of the military that deal specifically with maritime defense. The US Air Force not only offers one of the best pilot educations in the world, but they give recruits the opportunity to learn and operate on the most advanced aeronautical technology around. For the more physically and mentally fit among us, the US Marines offers one of the most difficult and prestigious military careers in the world. The Marines are known the world over for their strength and bravery, and while the branch may not be for everybody, serving as a United States Marine is a point of pride no matter where you are from – Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming – doesn’t make a difference.

Despite the many benefits and draws of military service, you must always be aware of the drawbacks of such service. It is no secret that the United States employs controversial methods in retaining and adding to its prestigious military force, which makes it all the more important that students and young people weigh all the information at their disposal before embarking upon a potentially life-changing military career. Before enlisting, keep in mind that joining the military requires a service obligation of eight years minimum. Given the current state of the country’s foreign policy, campaigns could wage on for years, if not decades. Moreover, young people with loved ones and children should adequately prepare themselve and their loved ones for extended periods of absence without a guaranteed return date. These factors alone can be enough to convince potential recruits to rethink enlisting.

Is Enlisting in the Military Right for You?

If reading the information above still leaves you unsure about whether beginning a short or long term career with the US Military is right for you –  don’t worry, you are hardly alone. Several resources exist online and elsewhere to help you with your decision making process. Although military recruiters themselves are wells of information on military enlistment, you should always be aware that their motivations may be less inclined towards informing you of the potential drawbacks of military service, and more towards getting the benefits to stick in your mind.  Always give heed to resources that stand little to gain from your potential enlistment with the military, such as counselors or mentors; these people will most likely provide you with the most unbiased information. For those prepared enough to take the plunge, military service promises to be one of life’s most educational and rewarding experiences.