One of the first aspects of joining the military is speaking to a recruiter. If you are unsure about the branch of the military you are interested in joining, don’t be shy about speaking to recruiters from all branches of interest. They are there to inform you about your possible options in joining the military.
It is always a good idea to approach your gathering of information from multiple sources. This may include speaking to recruiters in your hometown, chatting with a recruiter online and speaking to others you know who currently serve or have served in the past. Through all of these perspectives, you will get the true picture of what military service is all about.
When speaking to a recruiter, it is important to remember that his goal is to meet his recruiting numbers that is put forth by his branch of service. While he is not encouraged, nor permitted, to lie to recruits, it is important that recruits ask questions in the right way to avoid being led astray unintentionally.
Follow these tips when speaking to the recruiter:
- Bring someone else along with you when you speak to the recruiter. This may be a parent, a spouse or a friend. If you can bring along someone who served, that’s even better.
- Always ask open-ended questions and ask for specific answers. Rather than asking if you will have vacation time in the military, ask how much vacation you will receive and when you will be allowed to take it. This will result in much more realistic answers.
- Write down all of your questions before going to see the recruiter. This can ensure that you ask all of your questions during your meeting. Take along your notebook to jot down answers as well.
- After meeting with the recruiter in person, talk to others, including an online recruiter about the answers you received. This can help clear up any confusion and point out any inconsistencies or misunderstandings.
Questions to Ask the Recruiter
- What is the initial training process? Branches have a basic training phase as well as a phase to learn your specific job. Depending on your job choice, there may be additional training before you are assigned to your first duty station such as airborne or jump school.
- What types of jobs are available? It helps tremendously if you can narrow down your interests before speaking to the recruiter. There are more than 100 jobs available and it would be difficult to explain each one in its entirety due to time constraints. Narrow down your choice to a specific field such as medical or mechanical. The recruiter can then explain the options available in that category.
- What is the enlistment period? Most branches have a minimum enlistment of three years. Depending on the job choice, a longer enlistment may be required.
- How much will I earn? Military pay scales are the same across all branches. Military pay is based on rank and time in service. Depending on your educational background, you may be able to enter the service at a higher rank and therefore receive higher pay. Ask the recruiter about your specific situation. Some branches also offer the opportunity to earn rank before you leave for boot camp through referrals of others who enlist.
- What are the benefits? The military offers numerous benefits from allowances for housing, food and clothing to health and life insurance. These benefits can differ based on if you have dependents. The recruiter can provide information specific to your family situation.
In addition to asking the recruiter questions, your recruiter will want to know about your background as well including anything that could prevent you from being able to join, such as past criminal activities or a physical ailment. He will also ensure you meet height and weight standards and are able to pass a basic physical fitness test that includes a run, sit-ups and push-ups. The number and time limits are based upon your age and gender.
Don’t feel rushed into signing a contract. Joining the military is a big decision. You are committing several years of your life to your country and, in most circumstances, it is a decision that can’t be reversed. Take your time when investigating military service and be sure of your decision before you sign on the dotted line.