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Should I Join The Military
The Benefits of Joining The Military
Many young people have asked me the question, should I join the military. It isnât an easy question to answer. I love the Army. It is a huge part of who I am but it is a tough lifestyle and it isnât right for everyone.
I can share with you my experience and how I benefited from serving in the military. I can also tell you why I made the decision to return to life as a civilian.
No one can make the decision for you. Everyone has a different experience and story to tell but one thing is certain, becoming a service member will change your life.
Photos by Gina Birdsong
Making The Choice
Why I Joined The Military
I don't have any family members that are in the military. I was a lost youth looking for a way out of my situation and my town. I didn't have money for college and I was struggling to finish my last year of high school. I had made some bad decisions that were threatening to derail my future. The Army was an opportunity to change the course of my life. I left for basic training ten days after graduation. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I credit the Army with saving my life.
Get in Shape and Become Disciplined
You Will Learn Dicipline
I learned to love working out in the Army. Physical fitness is an essential part of being a Soldier so why not learn to enjoy it. I wasn't an athlete growing up. I didn't start running until I was about to leave for Fort Jackson. I learned techniques that helped me grow strong and I discovered my competitive side. I have had the privilege of participating in some amazing events.
The Army Ten Miler, Bataan Memorial Death March and Army Pentathlon are a few of my favorites. I recently became a member of a running team to raise awareness for Soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The military not only helped me get in shape. It helped change my lifestyle so that I could be a healthier and happier version of myself.
I learned discipline and the price of failure. It's a tough lesson to learn but it has helped me accomplish many of my dreams. I know how to fight for what I want and how to work hard. Discipline isn't just about following orders and signing your life over on a piece of paper. It is about never giving up. It is the satisfaction of knowing you deserve better.
The First Step to The Rest of Your Life
A good score on the ASVAB test is the first step in joining the military. Your score determines how many career options you will be given at the Military Entrance Processing Station. The minimum passing score varies between branches . You will be given more opportunities for bonuses and incentives if you score well.
Find your week testing areas and improve your skills before your testing date. This book will also help you grasp a better understand of the test and your score.
The Army Became My Home Away From Home
I was never able to buy everything I wanted while I was a Soldier but I always knew exactly when and how much I was going to get paid. The stability was comforting. I always knew I would have a meal in my belly and a bed to sleep in. I budgeted carefully and was able to purchase a new car when I was a Private. It was a good life.
I was able to purchase a home, pay the bills and still go out every weekend. I grew up living paycheck to paycheck. My dad was a welder and my mom a factory worker. They were always able to put food on the table but their wasn't much left over at the end of the month.
I was able to by new clothes, open a savings account and not worry about money for the first time in my life. You won't get rich as a Soldier or a Sailor but for people like me, the military is a decent living.
VA Home Loan
The military provides service members with many benefits such as free healthcare, dental care and life insurance but the VA Loan was the most beneficial for me. I purchased my first home when I was 21 years old with no money down and a mediocre credit history. I have purchased three homes over the years including the house of my dreams using my VA loan.
The college money was also a huge incentive for me.I always knew I wanted to attend college. I had dreams of becoming a business woman and living somewhere in Italy. Unfortunately, I made some very bad decisions. I graduated with poor grades and no money for college. It seemed like my dream of having a good career was unattainable. The Army helped me achieve my goals. I used Tuition assistance to earn two associates degrees while I was on active duty and I'm currently taking advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill to finish up my bachelor's degree.
Home Sweet Home
See The World - Rome Italy
I have always loved to travel but I never thought I would be in a financial situation to vacation overseas. I was stationed in the Netherlands in 2002. It gave me an opportunity to visit different countries and learn new cultures. I am proud to say that I have been to France, Germany, Belgium, Poland, and Tunisia. I have also visited most of the continental United States.
Meet Great People
I Was Stationed With The Love of My Life
I have met some amazing people in the Army. My husband and I are from two different parts of the country. We met while serving as firefighters at Fort Rucker, AL. I now have friends in all fifty states and all over the world.
The connections you make with people in the military are unlike any other. You experience things that tie you together forever.
Learn a Trade
I Became a Firefighter
I was so tired of school when I joined the military. The last thing I wanted to do was pursue a degree. I was beyond grateful to learn a trade. I was trained in one of the best fire academies in the world. I completed my technical training with firefighter certificates that were recognized in most states. My certifications help me get a job with the Department of Defense when I decided to leave the Army.
Live a Life of Advanture - Serve Your Country
Some people my age have never traveled out of their home town. I have been blessed to have many different experiences in my life. I have dangled from a helicopter and ran into a burning building. I have had the rush of throwing a hand grenade and shooting a machine gun. I also know the excitement of partying on foreign land in a small night club in Africa and running along the beach in Panama City. The military really opened up doors for me.It isn't always easy. There are times when you can't see your family and you want nothing more than to be in your own bed but you take the good with the bad.
Proud to Be an American
Why Should I Join The Military
I do not follow politics. I don't get wrapped up in conspiracy theories or reasons we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. I served to become a better person. In the process I became a better American and learned the price of freedom.
The decision to leave the Army was harder than the decision to join. My husband had started a new career and we wanted to start a family. I was offered a job teaching for the Department of Defense. I was scared to give up my security as a Soldier. I made the decision to settle down and get out after ten years of service. I am now a stay at home mom and proud veteran.
People always ask me if the Army is dangerous. Will I deploy? The simple answer is yes! If your recruiter is saying you won't deploy. He isn't being honest. The chances are high that you will find yourself in a foreign land fighting for a cause that is unknown to you. I always say that I would rather lose my life doing something extraordinary than to grow old wishing I had done more.
It is a tough choice that can only be made by you.
This is my story. It is unlike any other. I hope it has helped you make a decision.
Photo by Gina Birdsong
Learn More About The Different Branches of Service
- The Army Homepage
Learn more about the Army and stay up to date with policy and regulation changes.
- The Official Website of the US. Air Force
This is the place to learn everything you wanted to know about the Air Force. You can even find different airmen groups on Facebook.
- Welcome to The Home of the Navy
Are you thinking of joining the Navy? Read up on the history and current issues impacting the lives of Sailors today.
- The United States Marine Corp
Do you have what it takes to become a Marine? You should read Marine Corp 101.
- U.S. Coast Guard Home
Find a career in the coast guard.