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Should I Join The Military

Updated on May 25, 2013

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.

Image Credit

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

Physically Fit

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.

ASVAB For Dummies
ASVAB For Dummies

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.

 

Stability

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.

Benefits

VA Home Loan

College Money

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

Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home

Travel

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 Became a Firefighter
I Became a Firefighter

Training

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.

Experience

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

Are You Going to Join the Military - What Do You Think About The Military

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    • LaughingLady LM profile image

      Helen Phillips Cockrell 4 years ago from Virginia

      This is a GREAT lens! Congratulations on a outstanding career! I am USAF retired and very proud of my service to my country as well. I hope you are a member of the Women in Military Service to America (WIMSA) database? It is free and we are trying to register all women military members, active, retired, and veterans and their stories. If you aren't please consider it so your contribution to America is part of the Foundation. Thank You for serving!

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 4 years ago from Johanesburg

      What an inspiring story and an encouragement to others, thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      DebMartin 4 years ago

      I'm so glad you met your sweetheart. That alone makes your experience special. The adventure and education and travel are just icing on the cake. Well done!

    • carol2 profile image

      carol2 4 years ago

      Great lens, lots of good information. So glad to read here that you got your life on the right path thanks to the Army. Its also great to read that you gained a love of country. We have a cousin who graduated from Marine bootcamp last Friday, we are very proud of him. Lastly, a huge congratulations on making a lens that made LOTD - I learned yesterday how exciting that can be. (Thank you for squidliking my LOTD).

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your LoTD award. You are courageous and made excellent choices. Thanks for sharing.

    • Klinetka profile image

      Klinetka 4 years ago

      You wrote a really good lens. Congratulations for LOTD

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 4 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Nice lens! I'm sure being in the military is a noble job. ^_^

    • profile image

      fifinn 4 years ago

      become soldiers? sounds cool.

      congratulation for LOTD

    • profile image

      LUMOSE 4 years ago

      Great lens. Congratulations.

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      Congrats on LOTD! I really enjoyed your lens. I agree Military life is not for everybody.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 4 years ago from California

      Joining the military is indeed a personal decision. What I like here is that you told why you joined, and included some of the not so good aspects too. As another female Veteran I know that it's not always easy, but the rewards in my case were huge. The military taught me that I could do anything I wanted as long as I really wanted to do it. I learned a lot of things, and also used the then GI Bill to get my degree. Still haven't used the VA loan to buy a house, but my son has. Oh, and I too trained at Ft. Jackson...first time in my life I ever experienced humidity, I actually thought someone opened the gates of hell just for us :) Anyway....enjoyed this read, just as I do all your military articles. Congratulations on LOTD :)

    • sharadkgupta lm profile image

      sharadkgupta lm 4 years ago

      This lens is a complete guide for a person who have interest in joining the military. Thanks for sharing .

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank yo for your service, it is appreciated. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • michelleart profile image

      Michelle Collins 4 years ago from Florida

      Thank you for your service and your experiencedl advice for our young people that are thinking about joining the Military, This is the best LOTD I have ever seen! God bless you!

    • profile image

      linsm76 4 years ago

      Thank you for your service. A great article about being in the military.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Well deserved! When I was a senior in High School we had a recruiter come and tell us all about the branch of services. I wanted to go in but i was not a citizen, and never bothered to ask if that mattered...so I did the next best thing three years later, and married the man of my life who had to go to Vietnam...so maybe a Blessing in disguise for me...I love the photos of you, Again... Thank You for Your service!

    • ForEverProud profile image

      Jeanne Rene 4 years ago from Northern California

      Great lens. Wonderful that you would share your experience and advice with others considering joining.

    • nicenet profile image

      nicey 4 years ago

      Congrats. You have been a courageous lady.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 4 years ago from Michigan

      I remember the day I stepped off the bus at the reception station at Ft Knox decades ago like it was yesterday. With college costs skyrocketing, more than ever, I think joining the military is a wise choice for young people looking for a college degree. You can work on your degree in your spare time while in service...and then take advantage of the GI Bill upon discharge.

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Congratulations on receiving the LOTD. Great lens that should help people with career choices.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This is a great overview of what the military is like. Many people need that opportunity to improve their situation.

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 4 years ago

      What an amazing lens - very deserving LOTD! I will make sure to share it with a few of the high school students I know. You did a great job of describing the benefits of joining the military. Thank you for your service.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Being patriotic its should be our first obligation to join military. Congratulations for the LOTD!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Thank you for your service (and same to your husband) and thanks for sharing this. My husband and two sons are veterans (Navy, Army, USMC) and I couldn't be more proud of them. We highly recommend the GI bill, which paid for son #2 to go to college and, because he was smart and saved his pay (especially the extra deployment pay) he didn't have to have a job while going to school, concentrated on his studies - and finished his 4-year degree in 2.5 years. Thanks for providing this excellent resource for others who have questions about joining. Great job on a well-deserved Lens of the Day!

    • Mamabyrd profile image
      Author

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      @KentuckyGal LM: KentuckyGal thank you so much for sharing your story! I was a little disheartened by some of the comments this morning. I intentionally failed to highlight the ugliness of war on this article. We have lost many friends over the years. I feel like it is a disservice to them to say anything bad about the military. They gave their lives and I'm still here able to reap the benefits. I am so proud of being a Soldier and I want people to know that it can be a good life. I have never met a Soldier that has said "I want to kill someone" or " I want to leave my family behind and die for a greater cause". It is a tough lifestyle that requires so much dedication and loyalty with so little understanding.

    • KentuckyGal LM profile image

      KentuckyGal LM 4 years ago

      Thank you for your service and sacrifice. My MIL's husband served in Viet Nam (as a Marine) and lost both legs and one arm. He came back to the States, got two Master's Degrees and worked at the DAV until he retired. I was scared to meet him the first time; just the thought of all he had accomplished and all he had endured. But he was (and is) a really decent person.

      And, for evidence that some people know the military is more than "a killing machine", my MIL and her husband are having their back porch screened in. They approached a neighbor's contractor to do the work and when he found out the husband was a Marine, he said if they bought the supplies, his company would do the work for free! Word got around further, and now apparently 'retired' Marines are flying in from different parts of the country to do the work! Is that cool or what?

      GREAT LENS!

    • profile image

      dudokdudok 4 years ago

      I admire you for your army service. I think you summarized it great. Great story and inspiration.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 4 years ago from Concord VA

      Thank you for serving our country. Congratulations on LotD!

    • Mamabyrd profile image
      Author

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      @NoYouAreNot: Hi Helenee I respect your opinion and thank you for sharing. I want people to realize that Soldiers are ordinary people like me. We don't necessarily believe in the cause. We believe in our country, we believe in each other and the American people. It isn't our job to ask questions. We follow orders. That is why it is so important for people to stay informed and involved so they can speak up for these heroes. It is the young men and woman that have paid the ultimate sacrifice that gives us the freedom of speech and the warm blanket of freedom we sleep under every night. I wish it was so simply..... to say I don't want to kill anyone but unfortunately it isn't.

    • Mamabyrd profile image
      Author

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      @tedwritesstuff24: I have to agree Ted. I can think of many reasons to join the military but money and adventure are not very good ones. It's hard to explain how it feels to be a veteran. I joined for all of the wrong reasons but stayed for all of the right ones. The military is infused in every aspect of my life. I have been so blessed over the years and I truly feel that it is because I was a Soldier.

    • Mamabyrd profile image
      Author

      Mamabyrd 4 years ago

      @pawpaw911: PawPaw thank you so much for your comment. I had an opportunity to visit Walter Reed for Christmas in 2006. I couldn't believe some of the horrible things I saw there. My heart aches for these service members that are coming home injured and with broken spirits. They will never be the same. It is definitely something that people need to think about when they are trying to decide if they should join. I joined during peacetime. It was a completely different Army. I will never forget how quickly things changed after Sept.11. I really hope people remember that these volunteers are joining know they will most likely be sent overseas Shake their hand when you see them in the airport! Thank them for their service!

    • Nutrisimohealth profile image

      Nutrisimohealth 4 years ago

      Congratulations on lotD.

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

      Serve your country, kill other countries' people. Join the army!

      Sorry, dear, that's the way I see it.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Thank you so much for your service and thank you for sharing your story. Congrats on LOTD!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for your service and for inspiring others to serve with this lens.

    • writerkath profile image

      writerkath 4 years ago

      Your story is wonderful, and if I were a military gal I would salute you! Thank you so much for your service to our country. You have a terrific attitude, and I am thankful you are home, safe and sound. You have a wonderful life, and I think you will be an inspiration to others who are considering serving. Congratulations on a wonderful Lens of the Day!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 4 years ago

      Thank you for your service. I appreciate the sacrifices that are required by members of the military. Congratulations on LOTD.

      I would suggest that before anyone joins the military, that they visit Walter Reed Hospital. The injuries that you will see there are devastating to the people who have to live with them. And some of the injuries that you can't see can be just as devastating. My son only spent a short time there, but the photos of new friends he sent home, gave me a new appreciation for those who serve.

      If you can look at the injured and still want to serve, then I salute you, and will pray for your safe return. It takes remarkable courage to serve in today's military, when it seems that there is always something popping up, in some part of the world. To all of those who have served, or who are serving now.........Thank You.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 4 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Not for everyone, but for many it makes them like it did for you.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 4 years ago from Europe

      What a great story, well done on creating a great life for yourself.

    • RazzbarryBreeze profile image

      RazzbarryBreeze 4 years ago

      Congratulations on your lens making LOTD! Thank-you for serving our country. I enjoyed reading your lens very much. Have a great day!

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! I wouldn't want to be in the military but I admire those who do.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 4 years ago

      Thank you for your service! For many of the same reasons, joining the Army was one of the best things I ever did. I ended up getting out after eight years but my hubby continued into retirement. I was scheduled to deploy after having my son so we decided one parent in the military was enough. Very nice page here!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 4 years ago

      You look so stunning in that uniform that I don't know how you could give it up. What a joy to receive the honor of LOTD for this beautiful lens. You write well and should put it into a book. May the rest of your life be as successful and full of great things.

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

      TedWritesStuff 4 years ago

      As someone who lost a grandfather in war, had another spend 5 years in a POW camp and has a father who fought the Nazis, I firmly understand the price of freedom. Yet if asked the question posed I would say no. It seems such a high price to pay for a little adventure and a regular pay check. Nice article though ;-)

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      Very impressive your personal accomplishments are commendable. I have a grandson who just finished his first year at West Point Academy.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am ecstatic for you receiving LotD for this gem and joining you in the dance of joy, congratulations!

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 4 years ago

      This is a great lens, packed with personal information and experiences! I really enjoyed reading it. I'm not yet old enough to join, but I think when I reach the right age, I might join the marines. Or the military. They both seem like life-changing experiences!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Your life has certainly been a wonderful adventure. I would imagine your discipline from being a fire fighter was helpful for your military service.....I think your always positive attitude just made dreams come true unfold for you....including finding the love of your life. What strong encouragement you have for those who are seriously considering military service. Congratulations on your purple star and Imminent feature! :)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      The military really is a lifestyle rather than just a job. It takes a special type of person to fit in there.

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      How great you were in Holland a decade ago!

    • profile image

      TravellingDropout 4 years ago

      Great Lens and I hope you're enjoying civilian life.