May 31, 2007

Why young people should join the military

Every morning and afternoon I have the privilege of walking past the recruiter station for all services. Seeing the bright shiny faces of young folks about to, or in the midst of a very important decision process in their short lives. Something I wish I had done as a young man. I am doing it backwards and although there are some things that are better for me than for a young buck, I would recommend doing it the old fashioned way if you can…as a young man. I joined the military (reserves) AFTER September 11 at the age of 38.

I had a career, discipline, wisdom and patriotism. Most recruits are lacking in all those categories. I know I was a mess at that age. But if you are not, I highly recommend you pursue the military option for a start of your adult life.

At 40 I developed high blood pressure (genetics) and have had several other health problems that were absent as a young man, but there are a lot of lessons the military could have taught me in a hurry if I had been ready for it. All of the medical issues are pretty much under control, but nevertheless it is a constant reminder of my age and even though I love the military, I can't see myself doing this for another 14 years just to get a retirement check.

I am pretty sure, this deployment is my last hurrah as my enlistment is up at the end of this year. I could change my mind, but I doubt it.

I encourage young people to take a few years out of their life to serve, the benefits you get out of it far outweigh the risks in most cases. Of course you could be called on to give the ultimate sacrifice, and that is a little scary but if you are able to deal with that reality, the rest is almost always positive, even the bad experiences.

Here are a few of the things you learn in the military in just a few short years that in many cases take decades, and some people never learn.

These are generalizations, and of course there are exceptions. I’ve met several young Airmen (not a slam on the AF, but take that for what it's worth), who never learned this stuff but if you allow the experience to mold you, you come out way ahead of anyone else your age, in this age of selfishness.

If you are already joining up or thinking about it, read What the Recruiter Never Told You by Rod Powers. Recruiters are salesman, and they will sometimes lie just to get the sale. You need to know that going in and if you don't get what you want, keep trying.

  1. Discipline, getting up to go to work every day even when you don't feel good. How many people in this world quit their jobs when they get mad, or call in sick when they have a cold. A military trained person is a much more valuable employee just for the reason that they show up every day, hopefully on time. A military trained person isn't looking for the perfect job, they are thankful to have one.
  1. Learning to work with jerks. Learning to work with people who only think about themselves is a lesson we all have to learn. In the military you learn how to get along with people you don’t necessarily like….and you learn to stick it out, soon they will be gone and perhaps someone better will take their place. You also learn to work with really smart people too!
  1. Personal Hygiene. The military is a stickler for this, you learn that people will judge you by how you look, smell and act. Regardless of whether you think that’s fair or not.
  1. Personal Responsibility. You are responsible for you, regardless if it’s someone else’s fault you are in that position.
  1. Learning to deal with bureaucracy….nuff said, great life skill.

Much more (hundreds more), feel free to comment.