Deciding whether or not to join the military can be one of the most life altering decisions you will ever make. Many soldiers I have talked to have joined for patriotic reasons, to pay for a college education, to pay off student loans, to follow their family footsteps of a military career, or on a whim. Taking the time to consider the pros and cons of a military career may be one of the best decisions you’ll make.
Cons of a Military Career
1.) Joining the Military is a Serious Commitment
Once a commitment is made and a contract is signed, there is no turning back. Your life is in the hands of the military for your 2 to 8 year contracted agreement period. If you decide to join the military, I would advise you to commit to a short term the first time to see if you like being in the military.
2.) Your Life is at Stake
When soldiers go to war, they are risking their lives for their country. It is the biggest sacrifice that anyone can make. If a soldier lives and makes it back to the states, it’s unlikely that a soldier will receive a heroes welcome. Unfortunately, most Americans are too busy with their own lives to notice what a soldier has sacrificed for there freedom.
3.) Soldiers Can End Up With Life Long Physical and Mental Injuries
Many soldiers have to live with life long physical injuries. The loss of a limb or two limbs is the most obvious example. Soldiers can also face life long mental difficulties. The constant stress of being in the military, watching fellow battle buddies die, living with the terror of battle, possible sexual assault if female, etc.
4.) The Military is a Extremely Structured Environment
For some people, structure is positive. I place it in the list of cons because I am laid back and prefer less structure. There will be day and even months (if in the field) when a soldier is on duty 24/7. Soldiers have no control of their duty station (where they live) except as a reenlistment option. Soldiers can go without showers, toilet paper, soda, tea, television for long periods of time while in the field. Being a soldier can be a huge sacrifice.
5.) The Military Can Be Both Extremely Stressful and Boring at Times.
Many people are surprised to hear that the military can be boring at times. Being put on guard duty for four hours by yourself in the woods can be boring. Even if you have a buddy with you it can get old. How many soldiers want to spend 4 hours talking to the same person while laying on their stomachs, looking for the enemy, and holding a rifle? Did I mention your really not supposed to be talking to your buddy.
The military can also be stressful. If a soldier gets sick while in the military, a soldier can’t call in. Soldiers have to report to their doctor and if the doctor say you are well enough to go to work you better get there pronto. If your injured, you can lose your job. Soldiers have to maintain a certain weight or lose their job.
Pros of a Military Career
1.) Financial Benefits
Although, a soldier’s pay is not great, the benefits are. The GI Bill will help a soldier pay for their education. Housing is paid for. Single soldiers usually live in the barracks. Families live in homes. Thirty days vacation a year is a nice benefit. Moving expenses are covered and soldiers can eat for free in the chow hall. If a soldier serves for 20 years, retirement benefits are also nice.
Being in the military can be like being adopted by a huge family. The social benefits of being in the military are really worthwhile. Soldiers have each others backs and friendships made in the military can be life long. According to Wikipidia, comrade means “friend”, “colleague”, or “ally”. Soldiers have the opportunity to meet many comrades in the military.
3.) Health Care and Life Insurance
Free health care is available in the military. Many veterans with low income also get free health care once they get out of the military. Life insurance policies with very cheap rates for up to $250,000 worth of coverage.
4.) Travel the U.S. and the World for Free
If you stay in the military long enough you will probably see much of the U.S. and the world (at least where soldiers are stationed abroad) for free.
Some of the training the military provides is fun. I enjoyed the obstacle courses, weapons training, and riding in a C-130 and a Black hawk.
Wikipedia. 23 Aug. 2010. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 23 Aug. 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comrade