Joining the army is one of the honorable things that anyone can do, but the cost of serving your country can be very expensive. You are virtually inviting death to your door, prompting him to get to it, soldier! Despite the risks, the number of volunteers and people who enlist is anything but dwindling. In 2010, the US military is an all-volunteer force of over 2 million men and women. The average number of recruits for a fiscal year is nearly 70,000. Recent studies also showed that there is an increasing number of recruits who enlisted some years after high school.
What are the reasons that people join the army? According to the National Recruitment Statistics, patriotism is one of the top reasons. People who enlist knows what they’re up against and what they can expect, still they offer their lives for selfless service. They also know the potential for great rewards of military service. This only shows that, regardless of the branch of the military that you join in, there will always be major pros and cons associated with it.
List of Pros of Joining the Army
1. Get a college education for free
The G.I. Bill that was passed post 9/11 specifies that your education will be paid for while you are on active duty. Your college fees and rent will also be shouldered after you get honorably discharged. In the event that you lost interest in school and still decide to extend your contract in the army, your G.I. Bill can be transferred to either your children or spouse. With student loans causing major problems long after students have graduated, joining the military and getting educated is a great deal that will make you overlook the dangers associated with military service.
2. Job security
In the army, soldiers are rarely fired and you will always have a job for as long as you want it. The military, after all, is not going to be dissolved, ever. Your “office” might move from one location to another, but you will always have a job to look forward to. Layoffs are also unheard of in the military. What is even better is that a check will always show up in your account. Even with rumors circulating that the government will shut down, your chances of get paid will be high.
3. Free rent and utilities
If your pay grade is high enough and/or you are married, you can live off the government’s dime. They will pay for your rent and give you money to cover utilities. Whatever is left of the utility money, you can keep. You will also be given clothing allowance which you are supposed to use for your uniforms. But because everything you need will be provided for the allowance would be just that – an allowance.
4. Get great benefits
As if free education and job security are not great enough, you also get paid vacation, free healthcare, free flights and military discounts. While a regular employee gets 16 days paid holidays, people in the army enjoys 30 days of paid vacation annually. This excludes the free leave days that you can use when you go house hunting at your new duty station. When it comes to health care, the military has you covered. As long as you survive any accident or incident, you will be fixed for free.
If you want to fly for free, sign up for the nearest MAC flight and reach your destination without paying a dime. And if you are in your dress uniform, you are likely to enjoy several perks, such as given military discounts or get bumped to first class in a commercial flight.
5. Opportunity to travel
Military stations are found all over the world, so being assigned to all of them is a travel opportunity that you can enjoy for free. Sure, you might be assigned in war zones, but being on the other side of the world would still be an adventure. Of course, no two stations are alike, you might love your life in one and hate it in another.
6. Different training opportunities
The level of training you receive will depend on your job in the military. Being in special operations is probably the best, but even if you’re only assigned at the galley, you would still get training that would prove useful to you in the future. Besides, being in the military as one of your work experience would look great on your job application.
List of Cons of Joining the Army
1. Free health care with expensive costs
Even if free checkup, dental service and use of the ambulance are good, surgery gone wrong could spell bad news for you. This is especially true if you are treated in the middle of a battle. If you accidentally get sew up with gauze and medical tools still inside you, you can’t sue. Under the circumstances, getting what you paid for is bad.
2. Ranking greatly matters in military service
Even if you joined later in life, you would still start at the bottom rank, which means someone 5 years your junior could rank higher than you and would have the right to tell you crap as long as it is a lawful order. It doesn’t even matter if you think he’s an idiot, because you would have no other choice but to follow orders.
3. Standardized rules
Rules in the army apply to everyone, regardless of race, color disability and whatnot. What is even worse is that one person’s mistake will get everyone in the unit in trouble. Everyone will pay for the consequences. You will also follow the same standards in personal grooming and clothing, which are often rigid and so not your style.
4. Being away from family and friends
This is probably one of the reasons that being in the military sucks big time. Not seeing loved ones for months or years on end can drive anyone crazy, especially when communication opportunities are scarce. And when you do get to go home, everyone already has a new life that no longer includes you. Your children would have grown up by then. Things would just be completely different.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.