Information for Students

At a very early age young boys like to play with toy weapons. In the 50’s, any angled stick could be used as an imagined western six shooter or a cow boy cap gun was commonly used. In the 60’s, a broom stick handle was a fierce rifle or Star Trek phaser gun. In the late 70’s, electronic Star Wars pistols and Light Sabers were the craze. Young boys of every generation will simulate aggressive actions with toy weapons. Many mothers’ out there hate the fact that their young boys play in this manner. Young males playing in this manner can be found in almost every animal species, such as with tiger cubs and rams. This rough play guarantees that an “Alpha Male” hierarchy is established future down the line in any society.

Knowing this fact above, I know there will always be young men attracted to the military. Our Department of Defense is counting on it. America is counting on it. After 9-1-1 there was a lot of talk of bringing back the draft for young men. Current individuals who have volunteered for the military don’t want to work with others forced to serve America by a draft notice. Hope we have learned our lesson from Vietnam. As many Vietnam Vets will tell you that working with draftees was not what that conflict needed. It has been said that approximately 30% (or more) not only did not want to serve, but actively endangered themselves or others with their “service.” Today’s Service Members are capable men and women choosing to serve our country willingly.

Those military members serving today are some of the smartest and most highly trained individuals our armed services have ever produced. The percentage of enlisted members holding college degrees has increased over the past decades. Students, this is where you come in. The more steps, accomplishments, and experiences you put into your background now at an early age the better military career you will have. If you choose to be an Officer or Enlist in our Armed Services you will find that is will be one of the best choices you will ever make.

The following are steps are what a young person can take if they are interested in joining the US Military. Read then all, because there may be some bit of information that applies to you or it may open up an idea that will help you find the answers you are looking for.

Junior High School Students:

Junior high school is really early to be thinking of joining the military. I commend you for having the foresight into your future that many people double you age haven’t. Even with this ambition in life do not for get to live your life to the fullest. The age for you to join the military will come soon enough. Most things tied to age will. Here are a couple of things you can do to prep for the military.

-Join the local Boy/Girl Scouts. Do your best, apply yourself when you can, learn to be a leader, take leadership positions even when they are tough, and become an Eagle Scout if you can. These steps can set a good foundation for the military that will carry you into a great military career if you choose. The US Military will even promote you to the next rank enlisted (E-2) as soon as you complete boot camp for having these achievements in your background. I encourage you to seek a commission in the military as an Officer if you have come this far.

There is also Sea Scouts for those interested in the US Coast Guard or the Navy. If you are close to a Navy or Coast Guard base you should see what programs they have for you to get involved in. If you are near a Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit, the best thing to do is see if they can incorporate you into any types of training that you could participate in. The Sea Scouts are a good organization for young person interested in the ocean.

Devil Pups for those specifically interested in the Marine Corps. If you are close to a Marine Corps Base you should see if they have any new local programs going for those your age. The Devil Pups are just as hard as the Marine Corps, because it is usually ran by current or retired Marines.

Civil Air Patrol for those interested in the Air Force or Naval Aviation. If you are close to an Air Force Base the best thing to do is to contact the local base see if there are any programs for you to join. The Civil Air Patrol required that a young person take classes that focus on the mission of patrolling our air space to fill where the military falls short. In recent years the Civil Air Patrol assist search and rescue (SAR), eyes on illegal drug crops in mountain terrain, eyes on to help the Border Patrol, and much more.

After you have done one or more of these and find you like it, then the US military may be the right track or life path for you. If you find you don’t like it then the military life may not be for you. Usually what happens is that you think you like one service and find that you are interested in another. You are young enough now to think of joining another service.

High School Students:

Actively seek a current military member in the branch of service you are interested in. After that, seek a military member doing the military job you want to do. For instance: if you wanted to be an Army cook you should find somebody in the Army and then ask if they know somebody who is a cook in the Army. This gives you two points of contact to learn about the Army. The Army may not be the branch you want to go into. The Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard all have a military specialty for being a cook. All these Services have people who are cooks. It’s just a matter of which one you want to be a cook for. Each military branch has many of the same Military Occupation Specialty (MOS). The Army uses 11-Bravo MOS for Infantry, while the Marine Corps has 0311 for the Infantry MOS. What ever you decide on, it should be a career that can be done in the civilian world. A cook can work at a restaurant, restaurant manager, or catering service. A diesel mechanic can basically go to work anywhere in the US with that skill.

The wisest decision you can make now is to decide on a skill that will carry you into a career after the military. The second decision you should make is to find the best branch of service that can provide you the training in the skill that you want. Let’s take being an air craft mechanic for instance: an air craft mechanic in the Marine Corps will be in very remote and dangerous areas, a Navy air craft mechanic will do most of their work on an air craft carrier, and an air craft mechanic in the Air Force will also be in remote locations but more than likely in a air conditioned hanger to do their work.

Freshman and Sophomore years – Enjoy your first couple years of high school. Figure out how to manage your time. Join the sports that you enjoy doing. The military likes active people that are fit in mind and body. Being physically fit will become a way of life after you join the military. If you are still persistent about joining the military at this point, then here is what you should do.

Talk it over with your parents. This may be favorable or negative depending on what knowledge you and your parents have about the military. If your parents are all for the decision of later going into the military then you can move forward. Most parents will want to take it slow and that is understandable. They can be relieved that nothing will happen to you until after you have graduated high school. When you have made the decision of what you want to do and what branch of the military service you want to join then seek out a recruiter. Be aware that recruiters from different branches of service may want to try and stop and talk to you if you don’t talk to the recruiter of the service you are interested in. This is called poaching. The recruiter’s job is to sign people up and fill quotas. You are just a number to them. If you are interested in joining the Air Force and go to their office, but they are not in their office then just take a business card and leave. The other branches of service we see you waiting for the Air Force recruiter and try and get you to join their service.

After you have decided on a branch of service then seek out a recruiter. Make this decision wisely, because recruiters do not like to waste their time on wishy-washy decision makers. You will eventually need to learn about the history and traditions of the branch of service that you have chosen. One of the first hurdles will be to score high on the ASVAB test. Since you are a freshman or sophomore you will have plenty of time to retake the ASVAB and score higher on it. The higher your score on this test the more jobs are available for you to choose from. The jobs that require a higher score will usually translate/correspond to a good paying job in the civilian world. The reason you want to keep this in mind is that you can get all the training for that military occupation skill (MOS).

The training the military can give you could cost thousands of dollars to take at a regular college, university, or trade school. The military is paying you to attend and pass these schools. There is no other company that will also pay you as you learn the skills needed to do the job. Military Occupation Skills that require a high ASVAB score are hard to get. The recruiter will usually have you sign up for three MOS so that you get into the service. Your mission for yourself is to keep scoring high on the ASVAB so that her recruiter is encouraged to sign you up for the higher ASVAB MOS possible. The MOS schools are usually longer then most, so the recruiter may want to sign you up for 5 or 6 years of service, just realized that the first year of your service maybe at the school you choose for those skills that will enhance your life. So, do not be afraid of the 5-6 year commitment.

Junior year – Read the freshman and sophomore year advice. Time is shorter for you to accomplish your goals. Once you have decided on the branch of service you want to join, and talk it over with your parents. You have made a favorable choice by seeing a recruiter at an early stage. You can DEP (Delayed Entry Program) into the branch of service of your choice. You will actually be given that date as your data entry date and you may pick up rank faster then other s that go to boot camp with you or that come to the recruiter at a later date. The DEP program requires you to stay fit, out of legal trouble of any kind, requires you to attend training classes with the recruiter (these help you), and to check in with the recruiter periodically. If you get another person to join the same service as you, then your recruiter can put you in for an instant promotion after boot camp. This gives you two more weeks at your recruiting station to help recruit others. That means better pay at a faster pace.
The DEP program may offer you a different outlook view of the service you have chosen (good or bad) and you may decide to switch to a different military service at this point. All this is plausible. Make your decisions with as much information and research as you can find. Talk to as many people who you know in the service that you are choosing. That will help you see things from many different perspectives.

Senior year – Read the freshman, sophomore, and junior years first. Take a really good look at the past years and take inventory of your young adult life. Be honest with yourself, because even if you lie to your friends the decisions you make will truly be your own mistakes to claim as your own. At this stage you will know if you are possibly bound for college or need another path to pay for college. The military fits into both of these life paths.

You can enlist into the military for 4 years and when you are done you will qualify for the Post 9-1-1 bill. This bill pays for college tuition, books, and also pays you to off set other expenses. At the end of your enlistment you do not owe anything or anybody for your college education. For those rotating out of the military it is sometimes easier to go to a Junior College first and then transfer to a 4 year college. This is smart for two reasons. If you have not decided on a college major, then you can complete your general education before paying for the same (and usually more expensive) types of classes at a major university. Almost nobody completes college in 4 years unless they have enough money, no social life to do so, and avoid all social functions like parties and holidays.
Be aware that when you first enlist in the military for 3 years (or more) that you also enlist for four inactive years of service as well. This means that after your four years of service, that if any US conflict requires your military occupation specialty that the military can recall you to active service. This is very rare but has happened more recent with the current conflicts.

You can pay for college by joining one of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Army ROTC, Navy ROTC, and the Air Force ROTC are all available for you to choose. To become a Marine Corps Officer you will pick the Navy ROTC, because the Marine Corps are a part of the Navy. You’ll have to apply to one of the ROTC programs and this requires you to get three or more people to write recommendations for you. You complete a packet for the ROTC program you want and submit your package. If you are selected you get to go to college and the military pay for it. The military will also pay you a set rate for the time you are in college. You will have to keep up a specific grade point average (GPA), you will have to attend monthly training, and your summers may be spent going to mini boot camps for the service you select. Many of today’s successful CEOs, Lawyers, politicians, leaders, and public officials have gone to college in an ROTC program or are prior military. The reason for this is simply that the military cultivates leaders who never forget how to lead.

As all this information seems like a lot to intake into a young life, but just remember that hundreds of thousands of service members have done the very thing you are about to do. They have made it and so will you.