Should I join the military? It’s a question with a lot of different dimensions to it, some practical and down-to-earth, others a lot less tangible but equally important. You will find a lot of different answers to this question because everyone comes from different perspectives.
Odds are if you do decide to join up, you will probably find that the benefits of joining the Army, Air Force, Marines or Navy depend as much on you and your personal goals as any other factor. For many recruits, the military is a journey of self-discovery. Here are some benefits you could look forward to, tangible and otherwise:
100% of your college tuition paid for.
- You are not going to find a lot of other grants like this that you never have to pay back financially. Of course, you do pay back with years of service, but if the military appeals to you, this can be a great incentive to join up.
Learn advanced job skills which can later be of use to you in the civilian world.
- The career transition may also go smoothly. Many military personnel who retire to civilian life find a job with a government office or contractor.
- If you are tired of wondering where your next paycheck is coming from, the military can be a good option. A career track is laid out in front of you, and you usually have a number of options at any given time—without worrying that you’re going to be homeless if you pick the wrong one.
Enjoy a sense of order and the fulfillment and security which can go with it.
- For many military personnel, this lifestyle aspect is a huge positive.
Military pay is usually pretty good, especially for officers.
- On top of that, there are housing benefits, you may receive discounts on food, credits for continuing education, on-the-job training, paid leave, promotions, military medical care, commissions, and recreational opportunities.
Travel the world
- While you are usually only offered a couple of options for each of your moves, odds are you will be moving regularly, and sooner or later you may get an exciting opportunity if you stay in the armed forces long enough. This is one of the main benefits of joining the marines or another military branch for an adventurously minded person. Experience other cultures and meet people you never would get a chance to connect with.
Make friendships that can last a lifetime and enjoy the support of an extensive community.
- Many military friendships have the potential to be stronger and more meaningful than those formed outside the armed forces. When you share rigorous challenges and meet others you can literally trust with life and death situations, you form very strong bonds. The military also provides a lot of support and community for your family, and can feel a lot like having an extended family.
Develop skills that you can only build through experience, like a sense of honor and dignity, self-discipline, and leadership.
- Equally important is learning how to recognize great leadership in others.
Be part of something greater than yourself.
- For many people, this is one of the most fulfilling aspects of joining the military. You get a sense of achievement from having given your energy over to something that encompasses more than just yourself. Service is a very meaningful accomplishment, and can give you perspective.
Joining the military does of course have its drawbacks, and that is something you should consider before you sign up. You will have less freedom in deciding where you live and work, and your choices will be more constrained. Your appearance will need to conform to military guidelines. Saying “no” to a mission can have extensive legal consequences. You may regularly find yourself in positions where you feel uncomfortable with your role in events. And you may find yourself in a position where you are making life-or-death decisions.
For many, though, the benefits still outweigh the drawbacks—and to be fair, most of the drawbacks can occur outside the military as well (some more than others). Each branch has its own sets of opportunities, benefits, and disadvantages. Do your research, talk to a recruiter, and learn what you can about the military life before you commit. If the military life is right for you, it can be a rewarding opportunity which can shape your life and take you places you never imagined.