“The soldier is the Army. No army is better than its soldiers. The Soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.” ~ Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
Are you or perhaps a family member or friend thinking about joining a branch of the military? The United States has had an all-volunteer military for nearly 40 years now. No doubt, it is an honor and privilege for all of us as citizens to be protected by men and women who make the voluntary decision to serve and protect. There are some important considerations regarding such an important commitment.
Are you the type of person who craves consistency? Military life may hold an appeal for you. Daily activities, including waking/sleeping, meal times, and what to wear, are all planned out. If on the other hand, you have a strong aversion to authority and being told what to do and when to do it, you may want to rethink whether military life and you are compatible.
What are some ways to help you in your decision? Talk to men and women who have served in the military. You may have parents or other family who are veterans. There are many veteran groups who meet to swap stories and socialize on a monthly basis who would likely be pleased to talk about their experiences. If a particular branch of service is of interest, seek out veterans from that branch. It’s easy to glamorize military service (everyone looks great in their dress uniform); however, the reality of experience from those who fought and perhaps served in remote locations is valuable information as you contemplate volunteering.
What are some values gained from military service? Each veteran has his or her own opinion on that question. Some basic values that most gain include loyalty/reliance on team members, learning to work as a team in a diverse environment, character building, learning leadership skills, learning to take the initiative, and pushing yourself beyond what you thought you could achieve.
Talking to a recruiter? Making an appointment to speak with a recruiter is recommended, versus just walking into a recruiting office on impulse. You will need to have certain documents with you, such as your Social Security card, birth certificate, school transcripts, and others. Ask what you need to bring when you make the appointment. Know what your personal expectations are as you ask questions. Find out what the minimum physical requirements are for joining. Granted, the military will get you in shape, but you still must meet the basic guidelines before joining.
Personal questions to consider?
- Will you be comfortable being away from home for perhaps long stretches of time?
- Will being out of contact with friends and family be a burden?
- Do you have medical issues that may impact whether you can join?
- How do you respond to authority and discipline?
- Why are you considering joining the military?
This is not a decision to be made in haste without reviewing the options. It is a commitment to serve for a certain period of time. Take a copy of the enlistment agreement home to review/study before signing up.
Guarding and protecting this great land is a commitment that we as citizens support and count on in every walk of life.