Joining the military can be a daunting experience as most people mostly think it’s just guns and ammo. The media, as always, tends to whip up a completely different fantasy than reality. No, there aren’t super soldiers that shoot down 100s of enemies in a days’ work nor is there massive 4,000 man operations that are visibly being cut down easily. From my experience, the military can summed up as waiting a week, an hour of action, and then waiting a week. So don’t go thinking that soldiers are under combat stress 24/7.
Now that we cleared up that misconception, it’s time to find out how to go about joining the military. Before we start out, I want to show you guys Militaro’s guide, which is infinitely more detailed than this post. They have everything from enlistment all the way to VA benefits when you leave the military. This post is mostly just as a rough overview of the enlistment process.
This is the easiest part of the enlistment. Basically, you should just be at normal height and weight. If you are a little overweight, don’t sweat it. Just hit the gym to lose some weight and make it easier on yourself during boot camp. I suggest following strong lift’s 5×5 program to shed weight and make yourself stronger. Boot camp is going to be brutal, so it’s better to have a head start. It’s not uncommon to see people plan for the military and quit at boot camp because it’s demanding.
You should also be cleared of any felonies, and ideally, misdemeanors. You can get in with misdemeanors, but you will be competing with recruits that have had a clean nose. Also, some branches need specific eyesight requirements like the Air Force. So go ahead and research that out.
What Path to Take: Officer or Enlisted?
This is the question that burns for most people. In simpler terms, the officers are the bosses and management of the military while the enlisted are the main force that follow officers. They do the quick and dirty work such as patrolling or fixing engines and such. Officers must possess a capability for leadership and a knack for keeping a calm head during heated moments. On top of that, officers must have a 4 year degree. That is what sways people to enlistment, avoiding college.
For the carrying the burden of accountability, officers enjoy higher pay for their efforts. Although not much initially, an officer has much capability to advance their career in the military. An enlisted soldier can only get promoted so far and transitioning from enlisted to officer is a tough thing to do. So recruits should decide now on becoming enlisted or an officer.
There are currently four ways to become an officer. The first is to join a DoD (Department of Defense) military academy such as West Point or the Air Force Academy. These are 4 year institutions that grant degrees as well as prepare cadets for service. These are ideally the best colleges one could go to for the military. They are competitive to apply and as such, will make it easier to advance their careers in the military.
The second path is going to a civilian college while enrolling in the ROTC program. This program is military specific and lasts for the entirety of the college degree. While not as competitive as military academies, it does guarantee a place as second lieutenant in the military.
The third path is going through officer training which lasts anywhere from 9 to 17 weeks. The catch is that cadets are required to have a 4 year degree. Again, this is less competitive than ROTC or military academies, but it will grant cadets a place in the military.
The last path is for highly specialized careers such as physicians, lawyers, or engineers. They are directly commissioned into the military after a brief training period. They usually are a couple steps up in the ranks because of how specialized their education and training is.
Speak to a Recruiter
The last step is to speak to a recruiter to get your paperwork done and find a physical testing site, called MEPS. During this time, you can ask any questions you have on the military. It’s advised to write them down in case you forget them. Alternatively, if you want immediate answers, you can go to Militaro’s contact page and ask them there. They are a group of experienced military veterans and will likely have all the answers.
Well that just about wraps it up! There are numerous ways to go about joining the military and the requirements aren’t insanely up there. So hit the gym and go talk to your recruiter about joining!