Please don't post advice unless you've got firsthand experience. There is quite a bit of bad info out there that keeps getting repeated by people and spread around. The point of this thread is to help people that are interested, not show off the knowledge you think you have about the military because you heard somebody talking about it once or you read a lot of books. This is for practical advice/information for those that are genuinely curious about military life. Please try to keep it civil.
Right now, I'm going to get the ball rolling by posting my standard starter speech for people. I recently PMd this to somebody that asked me some questions and told them they need to sit and think about this for a couple days before they even start thinking of what questions to ask.
Keep in mind that this is taken from two PMs I sent to somebody in response to some initial questions. I haven't 'cleaned it up' so it reads like you're coming into the conversation late. I apologize for that, however I don't think it negatively impacts the usefulness of the information.
The first thing you need to prepare yourself for is this:
You need to be ready, regardless of what rank you are, officer or enlisted, what service, what MOS/AFSQ/rating, active duty, reserve or national guard, for this -- deployment. Imagine getting told that the very next day you are going to have to deploy to the worst place you can imagine (think Middle East -- desert. Or certain places in Africa or South America.). You're going to be there for 6 months to a year, with only minimal contact with friends and family, at best. You'll be living in field conditions (a tent, no air conditioning or heating, MREs for two of your three meals a day, little sleep) and having to wear a helmet, body armor, load carrying equipment (LCE) and carry a rifle at all times (even to the latrine). When you do go out of camp, everybody is at a high state of readiness because you don't know if the locals are friendly or not at any given time. People you know will die. Plain and simple, it will be really ugly. You might see somebody you know get killed right in front of you. All this, even if you are a supply clerk. There is no such thing as a 'safe' service or MOS anymore. The reality is that anybody in the military can find themselves in the position I just described. Just ask Jessica Lynch.
Think about it for at least 24 hours. Really think about all of that I described. That is a worst case scenario. But these days, it can happen to anybody. Do some digging on recent news stories -- there are a couple of recent ones (the last few days -- edit: at this time, about 70% of our forces are overseas) that cite percentages of how many troops from our military are overseas right now. That number should give you an idea. I promise you that I know people in every service that have been called to active duty and sent away from home for 1-2 years since 9/11. If you are still interested in serving after thinking about it, we'll talk some more and I can start getting more specific.
Just before the war officially ended in Iraq, in a thread on this topic, I said something about being deployed for that long and somebody said to me that they thought you could only be deployed for 6 months. I said it then and I'll say it now, that was a little nicety that came about quite a while ago when we had lots of troops going on peacekeeping missions. It was to help morale for servicemembers and their families. I said that if the war in Iraq kept going, do you think that we'll stop the 3rd ID short of Baghdad and send them home just because they've been there six months? Well, I hate to say it, but as of this writing, there are elements of the 3rd Infantry Division that have been deployed for 9-10 months and they might get to come home this summer. I know a couple of married officers from Bragg that have been in Kuwait/Iraq since October. They're supposed to come out in September with their unit. They both PCS (move from one post to another) to another unit on 1 October -- right before that unit gets rotated to Iraq. Lucky them.
One key phrase to get used to: Needs of the Army. All the services have their own version because it's the same wherever you go. If the service needs you to do something, everything else goes out the window.
At some point, I'll tackle things like
- the enlistment process and things you need to be aware of -- your rights and obligations.
- commissioning options (becoming an officer)
- special training
- jobs in the military
- base pay and special pays
- miscellaneous other things
Edited by Jester, 10 July 2003 - 01:55 AM.