From Fort Lewis, WA — 05/11/2009
I've read a lot of negative things on here about people's jobs in the Army. I can assure you, even though you may hate your job, not everyone does. Your individual experience depends on your MOS and the unit you're in. But more importantly, it depends on your attitude and level of motivation. Some people rate the Army low on "respect." Well, what have you done to earn that respect? If you're a junior enlisted Soldier, of course you're not going to get the respect you think you deserve. But respect is earned. You don't come into the Army instantly entitled to respect. Even the lowest ranking Soldier can earn the respect of his/her superiors and subordinates by having a positive attitude and motivation. I know it sounds cliche, but you get out of it what you put into it. I've learned that a blend of humility and confidence will get you far.
That said, some people just aren't cut out for the Army lifestyle. If getting up early to do PT in the cold isn't your thing, why would join in the first place? If you can't handle deploying to a combat zone to live for a year to 18 months, then this isn't the job for you. Don't tell me about your recruiter and what he/she may or may not have told you. You were a grown-up when you signed that legally-binding contract with the US Government, so sooner or later you'll need to act like one.
All jobs, both military and civilian, have their share of idiots. The key is to differentiate yourself from them. Use their example to learn what kind of leader you're NOT going to become. You may hate the unit you're in now. That's fine. But understand that things will change. You're not going to be in that unit forever. The people you hate are not going to be in that unit forever. Hate your job? Then reclass as soon as you get a chance. And if the Army still isn't for you, then get out.
Now, to address benefits... Most people who say they hate the Army simply need some perspective. I'm no recruiter, but if I were, here's how I would roll it up:
First, there are the financial Benefits:
- Steady paycheck. It hits account on the 1st & 15th like clockwork
- Extra money for serving away from family
- Extra money for serving in combat zones
- Extra money for attending schools
- Extra money annually to pay for uniforms
- Depending on MOS, re-enlistment bonuses are available
- Discounted merchandise, gas, groceries, w/ no sales tax.
- Commissary provides approximately 30% savings vs. typical grocery stores.
- Job security: You can't get laid off based on the whims of corporate CEO's or the instability of the stock market.
- How would you like to live in a gated community protected by armed guards?
- How would you like your employer to pay all rent and utilities?
- Even if on-post housing isn’t acceptable to Soldiers w/ dependents, the military gives you money for rent on the economy
It would certainly be hard to find a civilian employer who would cover your rent!
No other employer on earth can compete w/ the military’s medical benefits. I'll speak from my own experience, since everyone's medical situation is different.
- We had four children completely free
- I had two different abdominal operations, plus got my wisdom teeth removed and had cavities filled... that's right: all for free.
- Eye exams and glasses are all covered.
- The Army also provides free laser eye surgery to those who qualify.
- In many cases, personnel & families can be treated by civilian doctors.
- Free access to gyms & state-of-the-art workout equipment. Health club memberships are expensive.
Not only do you not have to pay, but we’re paid to be physically fit. It’s part of the job.
Many people get out of the Army just for the sake of getting out, and have no prospects lined up.
- GI Bill: A big pile of money for college that sadly, most people don't even use.
- Tuition Assistance: Because of this, most people don’t have to touch their GI Bill until after they’ve left the military.
- Military prepares you for life as a civilian.
Myth: the military is all about killing people and blowing things up.
Reality: 81% of military jobs are non-combat occupations.
Reality: 88% of Military jobs have direct civilian counterparts.
Even when you do eventually get out, the military still takes care of you: The Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) helps Soldiers transition to civilian life by providing civilian job training, job fairs with civilian employers, and they even help you prepare your resume.
So in conclusion, you could get out of the Army. But I’d like to see you walk into a job interview and ask for all the benefits you currently have. Here’s how it might go:
“I’d like a free place to live, free work clothing, and free health care… And by the way, I also want a gym membership, and you’ll need to pay for my education. And if I decide to leave your company, I’ll need you to help me find a new job.”
Try that, and you’ll be laughed out of the interview.