From Ft. Hood, TX — 01/12/2010
2.3 years, 1st Cav., Ft. Hood, TX E-4, SPC, 1998-2000. Like most things, I have mixed feelings. As far as benefits and job security, it is by far the best you'll have. Who else is going to give a 19 year old with no skills 30 days paid vacation annually? Its the only job I ever had that offered me any paid vacation. Its also the one job that does not want to get rid of you!!! They will twist your arm and tell you all kinds of nonsense to get you to reenlist. I was once told 'not just anyone can work at McDonalds these days' when my chain of command was desperate to get people to re-up, which very few in their right mind did. Things everyone must consider before joining: 1.) If joining for 2 years, it is a 28 month commitment and your recruiter may wait until the last second to pull a 'oh by the way...' on you. Do not forget the 8 year contract either, though I was never called up again anyway. 2.) While the economy and job market are awful, and businesses are getting worse and worse with benefits and working conditions, less people are enjoying work, etc., the Army may be very tempting and for some people, their best decision while for others their worse. Regardless of your friends/relatives' success stories with the army, your situation, your needs, etc., you must remember that warfare, big business interests and expansion of our government's control, is the only purpose of this organization. Expect to be sent to a sh*thole. You will also always have someone telling you what to do and when to do it. 3.) Not to mention, your coworkers will include many many people who will not last a day at any civilian job and who are misfits otherwise, coming from bad upbringings, slums and outhouses. If you're afraid of people outside your hometown or don't understand anyone outside of your hood, you will be in for a shock. The past few years they also started letting in criminals and psychos who they never would have let in before. While you may be 'squared away' and good at everything, don't be suprised when you find yourself paying for the mistakes of others. One person's screwup is seen as everyone's screw up. The Army's definition of teamwork. 4.) You may not always do 'your job.' Some soldiers do their entire first term without ever doing their MOS. For example, my MOS was a cannon crewmember. At my duty station, I drove an ammo truck the whole time. You will also be put on duties and do janitorial work a lot. Remember, Infantry is everyone's secondary job, so don't be shocked if pulled off a desk and put on patrol. If you can not live with the 4 points I mentioned, then stay out or you will be miserable and counting the days til when you seperate. That is a fact. If all of it is old news to you and you are still convinced you want to join, know the facts first. If you are educated, look into being an officer as you'll be treated with respect that you won't if you just enlist. Knowing whats going on there, knowing why you're joining and knowing what you'll gain and lose, are most important to be researched and determined before signing and swearing in. Going in eyes wide shut and leaving it all upto the recruiters is just plain stupid. The last of those currently serving you want to talk to, are recruiters. Don't see them unless you already made up your mind and its you convincing them, not them trying to convince you. Also talk with recently seperated veterans. Whether or not you join, make it a smart decision, not a desperate one.