Recruiters are not allowed to lie.
If you are serious about joining the U.S. military, talk to a recruiter. That is the first step to get everything rolling. Just be smart about how you do things and be cautious. Recruiters are not allowed to straight out lie to you but nothing says that can’t omit details or embellish things. When I was talking to a recruiter, I wasn’t lied to. I just didn’t know the questions to ask when I talked to the recruiter. For example, does everything (food, uniforms, gear, hygiene items) come out of your paycheck when you’re in boot camp? If you go Reserves, do you still get free medical, dental, and vision? Is the G.I. Bill the same for Active Duty and Reserves? What happens if I fail a portion of training in boot camp, combat training, or MOS school?
Get everything in writing.
In order to fly you need to be an Officer. Both Warrant Officers and Commissioned Officers can both fly. Warrant Officers cannot fly fixed wing aircraft (planes) but Commissioned Officers can fly both fixed wing and rotary (helicopters).The Marine Corps does not have a medical field. Being a Marine myself, I know we rely on the Navy to take care of that role. We have Corpsmen. They actually have to go through Navy boot camp and a more expedient version of Marine Corps boot camp.
There is Active Duty and Reserves. If you choose to do Active Duty, you have more opportunities to choose from (based off the needs of what branch you choose and your performance). If you go Reserves, you are limited to whatever the Duty Stations have to offer but you should be able to choose the Duty Station in the state you enlist. Commissioned Officer is a whole other beast that I won’t go into right now. For example, I live in Arizona. I had the option to go to Tucson or stay in Phoenix. I chose Phoenix as it was closer and it just so happened that both Duty Stations had exactly the same MOSs to choose from.
If you are promised a bonus, make sure to get it in writing in your contract.
Lastly, I mentioned that some things are based upon performance. What I am talking about is the ASVAB test (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) given to every recruit, boot camp, combat training, and MOS school. Your ASVAB score will determine what MOSs you’ll be able to get. If you fail a portion of training in any part whether it is boot camp, combat training, or MOS school; you are now in breach of contract. The branch you chose could end up making your new MOS anything they want or are in need of.
Be physically fit.
Physical fitness is one of the standards that every branch has. No matter if it’s the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Air Force, the Army, or the Marine Corps. Every branch has a standard for physical fitness. I know the Marine Corps the best as that is the branch that I chose, so my examples will be from those standards. There are four physical fitness standards in the Marine Corps. There is the PFT (Physical Fitness Test), the CFT (Combat Fitness Test), a Swim Qualification and the Height and Weight standards. Other branches have their own version of the PFT but for the most part, the Height and Weight Standards are pretty much universal. For the Marine Corps, the PFT consists of Pull-ups, Crunches, and a 3-mile run. To max out your score, depending on your age, you need approximately 20 Pull-ups, 105 Crunches, and an 18-minute 3-mile run time.
The CFT consist of an 880-yard sprint in boots and camouflage pants, ammo can lifts, and what is called the Maneuver Under Fire drill. The Maneuver Under Fire drill is a suicide drill from football or basketball on steroids. For more information on both the PFT and CFT visit: http://www.fitness.marines.mil/PFT-CFT_Standards17/
The Height and Weight standards are there to ensure that you have not been slacking. Think about it. Would you want to go into a firefight where you possibly might get injured and your battle buddy can’t drag you out of harm’s way? That is the reason the Military is really the only organization in America that can discriminate on a person’s height and weight, as there is a pretty good reason for it. For more information on the Height and Weight standards visit: http://www.fitness.marines.mil/BCP_Standards/
If you can pass the Marine Corps PFT, CFT, and the Height and Weight standards, you should have no problem joining any branch you choose.
Any time you are injured on Duty, go to Medical to get checked out and have it documented. When I was in boot camp, I had pneumonia twice and I had my knees kicked backwards. I had to go to Medical for the pneumonia both times as I could not perform at all in boot camp. I was written a Light Duty chit (note) and got to have a day off to recover with medicine. For my knees, I told my Senior Drill Instructor and I did not go to Medical. He himself put me on Light Duty due to the way that it happened and it wasn’t documented. When I got to my Duty Station, I made sure to document it with the Corpsmen there.
The reason I highly suggest documenting everything is for the fact that upon getting released from duty, you can file your claims with the VA office (Veteran Affairs). If it is not documented the VA will not cover it.
Embrace the suck.
Military wide, they have many crappy extra duties that just suck. It’s plain and simple and there isn’t any escaping it unless you reach a high enough rank. You have firewatch, hurry up to wait, working parties, Duty, etc.
Firewatch came from the inherent danger of warfare where there is a possibility of being attacked at night while everyone is asleep. In theory, it makes complete and total sense to have people on duty at night watching over Marines, Soldiers, Seamen, and Airmen while they sleep. In boot camp, I have stood many firewatch posts. It gives one time to think about things and go into in depth analyzations. When you realize that you are awake while everyone is asleep, on a base that is guarded by MPs (Military Police), in California, which is in the continental United States… Firewatch seems kind of pointless and just a way for your Drill Instructors or your squad leader to mess with you and your sleep. Don’t be discouraged though. It’s training for when you are actually in a combat zone.
Another thing that can really suck are working parties. Working parties (a group of Soldiers, Marines, Seamen, etc.) are snatched up to do miscellaneous tasks. A few weeks ago, I was in 29 Palms, California for training and I was snatched up into a working party to separate trash. Yes, you read that right. We had to go through about 3 weeks’ worth of trash to separate out the cardboard, plastics, Aluminum, general trash, and MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) heaters. It doesn’t sound that bad until you open a bag and smell the opened MRE food trash that has been sitting in the heat.
Hurry up to wait is prevalent in the military from day one. Drill Instructors hurrying to get the entire platoon to Medical or Dental or whatever place we needed to be just to stand by waiting for hours on end. I have spent at least 25% of my career waiting. That comes from the leadership not wanting to look bad by having others wait on them. I have stood in many formations, many times for 2 or more hours waiting to be told I can go home. If you do join, you’ll inevitably hear the phrase, “15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior.” If you don’t, you’re wrong.
I know I sound like a disgruntled enlisted Marine, I’m not gonna lie I actually am, but don’t let any of that discourage you. If you dreamt of enlisting or commissioning into the military then this is more of a heads up. Use this to better guide you to make the military work for you. If any of this discourages you, you probably shouldn’t join the military. It just isn’t for you, that’s all. My reasons for being disgruntled have nothing to do with working parties, firewatch, or standing by for no real reason. I am proud to have served and will continue to do so until January when I get out. I love being a Marine. I just hope to educate the future generations that will precede me.
Thanks to YouTube for allowing me to find these videos. Also I would like to thank Public Domain TV for the PFT video, Melvin Rodriguez for the CFT video, Conrad Stodgell for the Momma Dog video, Maximilian Uriarte over at terminallance.com for the POST video, and last but not least Alkohol2011 for uploading Tyler Satterfield’s EAS Song.