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DS17 very interested in joining army after graduating next May... advice, real life experiences, info...

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Super long back story that's not appropriate for this forum but...

This past May, I took the Ancestry DNA test to find out who my biological father is and....lo and behold...I connected with a biological Great Uncle.  

He is a retired Naval MasterChief, and served 32 years right out of high school.  Actually, he did not finish high school and ended up getting his GED after he enlisted.  

During his naval service, he had many roles, but at one point, he was a recruiter.  He says that the Navy typically offers the best in terms of long term career options and post-service civilian careers.  

It can be a rewarding career, if you play your cards right and if you put the effort in.  Currently, we are grooming our boys for potential military careers.  In particular, my 11 yr old will be a competitive Naval Academy applicant, when that time comes.  He's only a rising 7th grader now but...my Uncle is already setting up a meeting with our area Blue and Gold Officer so we can make sure everything is on track.  

Also..if JROTC isn't an option in your area (it's not in ours), look and see if there is a Civil Air Patrol group.  It's an auxiliary of the Air Force and will have the same purpose as a JROTC group.  

I did find it interesting to learn that they (the service) DO push a lot of these long-serving members out.  My uncle wanted to stay on longer but, having been a MasterChief for over a decade, the Navy decided it was time for him to move on and make space for others to promote.  That was 14 years ago and he still works for the Navy as a subcontractor SME (Subject Matter Expert).  He travels all over the world and financially, he does quite well for himself, having come from very little.  

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Just adding on to previous poster's suggestion of Civil Air Patrol -- here are links to the different military branch's junior cadet programs that you can get involved with in high school (some even in middle school), and which can pave a path towards entering the military at a higher level, plus the possibility of scholarships for college:

Sea Cadets (ages 13-17) -- US Navy Junior Cadet program
Junior Civil Air Patrol (ages 12-18) -- US Air Force Auxiliary
Army Cadets ( ages 12-18)-- US Army Cadet program
Young Marines (ages 8 through high school) -- US Marine Cadet program

Junior Air Force ROTC and High School Air Force ROTC scholarships 
Route for going to college and becoming an Air Force officer; provides college scholarships for those with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an SAT of 1180 or ACT of 26 or higher, plus physical fitness requirements.

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My dh is an Air Force JAG. Based on his experience, he would recommend any new recruit stay away from "hotel parties." After basic training is done and the kids get a little freedom, many host or attend hotel parties. Many military careers are ended in one night at these parties.

My dh's Air Force brothers tell their mom, they are "in the rear with the gear." When deployed, they are usually not in the thick of the action as the the air bases are usually a bit away from actual fighting.

Dh is now in the Reserves, and he will be until he retires or they kick him out.  The benefits have been amazing for us - pay for working part-time (mostly 1 weekend/month + 2 weeks/year), retirement benefits, and healthcare ($220/month premiums for our family w/$1000ish max OOP per year). Dh can also sign up for temporary duty stints to supplement our income or to bridge periods of unemployment. Right now he's on a stateside deployment for 9 months earning college money. His active duty JAG pay is nearly 2x his civilian attorney pay.

Dh is a servant at heart, and he finds his military career extremely rewarding. He is proud to serve our country. His civilian jobs have mostly been serving the public as well (public defender, county attorney, judicial clerk, etc).

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  • 3 weeks later...

I just wanted to check in and let y'all know an update.  DS has decided to go on to his college of choice.  He was accepted during the military deciding time and after reading some these responses and just taking time to think and pray through his decisions and having some conversations about things, he decided that he wouldn't make a commitment right now.  He has always been motivated to go to college after high school and the military option mostly tickled his ears and made him feel patriotic to serve his country, but reality set in over time and he felt strongly to just go with his first decision and then consider things as time goes on, either reserves, ROTC, or enlisting after college to help pay it back.  Thanks so very much for the responses and thank all of y'all who have served our great country!  My family is more than thankful for you.  Blessings to y'all and a good school year!

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