I am not yet in the military.
I feel like I have to say that first and foremost because I don’t want the questions. That’s also the reason for this post. Apparently people think that I have NO idea what the military is and I’m just rushing into a decision.
The fact of it is, the Military is another option. I could stay at OSU, I could drop out all together, I could do anything that I want and at this point I still can. In fact, as Matt Galloway once told me, I’m young enough that I can still go in any direction I want. I don’t feel stuck, or obligated to do anything that I don’t want to do. The fact of it is, I’m bored with what I’m doing now. Coming out of high school I didn’t want to go to college, but I told myself that in four years it wouldn’t matter. I would have a degree and everything would work itself out.
Fast forward to now. Four years later, and here we are. I’m still two years away from that degree and the way I’m going, it might even be longer. I’m not a good student. I never was. Don’t even begin to ask how I got all A’s in high school. I contend that had I gone to a school that actually graded based on performance and not potential, I wouldn’t have done near as well.
“No one likes school, Will.”
You’re right, they don’t but all they do is whine about it. I’m doing something. And name something else I could do that would allow me to walk away from college and provide the benefits that the Army could…I’ll wait.
What benefits? How about a steady job for the next four years? And with that a steady paycheck. I know too many degree holding peers out there who don’t have jobs, or have jobs at companies that could go under at any second. Not really a lot of job security, is it?
My job isn’t going to be clearing buildings in downtown Bahgdad, I’m currently looking at three options.
1. PsyOps. From what I can tell, this is Propaganda. Or as you PR pros call it, “Strategic Communications”. What job could be more cool than figuring out what message will have the most effect on our enemy and, even better, the morale of our soldiers? This is a job that is tough to get but will help me be an asset to the Army.
2. Intellegence Analyst. This is an information war. The more reliable intel we can gather, the more lives we will be able to save. This job will allow me to play a part in keeping soldiers safe and when necessary, helping them fight and win.
3. Human Intel Collector. You got it, Interrogator. This job has gotten a bad rap because of Guantanomo, but it still plays an important part of the war. We need to be able to get valid information from people, and this is the way to do it. The information that I gather in this job will save lives and possible keep our soldiers from an ambush.
“But they’re going to get you to Iraq and turn you into a grunt. That doesn’t mean you’ll get the job you sign up for.”
Let me paint a picture for you. If I walked into the recruiters office and told them I wanted to be 11 Bravo (Infantry) and told them that all I wanted to do was fight and learn weapons and tactics, they would spend millions of dollars training me and months teaching me how to use those weapons and tactics so that when I got to the war, I could be the best soldier I could. In that scenario, they would not send me to Iraq or Afganistan and put me behind a computer and tell me to gather intel, would they?
What makes you think it would work in the opposite direction? The job they spend money and time to train me for will be the job I’ll be doing during my active duty.
“So you’re dropping out of college?”
In a sense, yes. For now. But getting my degree is still very important to me and the Army will help me achieve that. While on active duty, I will be able to take classes toward my degree and there will be plenty of money available to use for school. So if I don’t get my degree it will be because of my own accord, not the Army’s.
I plan to serve for four years and then spend the next four on inactive reserve. Meaning, they can call me back if necessary. All Military contracts are at least 8 years. The number that’s advertised is active duty years. But they are all 8 year contracts.
While on active duty I will have many benefits that would not be available even if I did have a degree and a full-time job. Full medical, vision, dental and life insurance will be provided (life costing $28/month for $400k). I will have few, if any bills aside from anemities, like cell phone, etc.
The pay is not that bad. I will be making roughly $35k a year. Which is as good if not better than many entry-level positions considering that I won’t have many living expenses.
If I said I wasn’t afraid of being shot, or serving in a “hot zone” I would be lying. Those are the scary parts of war, but I know full well what they are, and I am accepting that responsibility. It is my hope that after basic, I never have to fire my weapon, but I am thankful that if I should I will be able to because I will have had training in defense and I will not be afraid to protect my life and the lives of those around me.
I have put a great deal of thought into the OPTION that is before me. I know what the risks are, and I know what the benefits are. As of right now I am in the process of getting all of my documents and paper work filed to join. It is highly likely that I will join assuming that I get one of the positions listed above. If not, you can bet to see me walking the quad in the coming semester.
The bottom line is this, the Army needs intelligent, young and enthusiastic people. JFK famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” The Army needs more people like me. And I’m stepping up to the call.
Thank you for reading, please feel free to comment below.