I spent over 20 years serving my country, and for the most part, I had a most excellent time. I get asked every now and then if the Armed Forces really provide a decent opportunity to earn a living and learn a skill. The short answer is ‘yes”, but what worked for ME may not be right for YOU. If you’re finding yourself at a career crossroads, or want a change, and are wondering if a stint in the Armed Forces is a move in the right direction, then sit back and make yourself comfortable while I wax philosophic for the next 600 words or so.
When it dawned on me that serving in the military allowed me to learn a skill, do a job that I enjoyed, get paid for it AND live in foreign country, there wasn’t too much else holding me back. However, you need to understand that in order to get from point “A” (learn a skill/do a job) to point ‘B” (get paid to live and work in a foreign country) you have to allow some give and take: you have to promise to defend your country, wear a uniform and follow orders. And there will be days when none of those options is very appealing.
But I digress.
The Armed Services allow you to pick a career field that you are interested in. And they will train you. And it does not cost you a dime. You say you’re already experienced? Hey, if you’re THAT good, maybe they’ll just send you to your first duty station straight away. Otherwise, enjoy yourself. Go to the military technical school and learn the military way changing a tire or shooting a photograph or whatever, and while you’re at, don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re getting paid every two weeks. American Universities should offer such a deal.
I was a late bloomer when it came to the military. I went to college for a few years and pretty much dedicated myself to everything that was fun besides studying. But when it dawned on me that after two years I was still going through the motions of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic I needed a change.
After you are trained and have made it through your military technical school, you’ll be sent to your first duty station. You are given a chance to select where you want to go. Let’s say you want to go “Italy”. You may only get offered the “European Theatre” and after that it’s up to fate and destiny and where ever there are openings to fill. Or maybe you want Japan but you get the “Pacific Theatre”. If I remember correctly, I selected Italy but was sent to Greenland! Five months of total darkness, five months of sunlight and two months of twilight and I had the time of my life. Anyway, the system has changed a little in the last few years but the basic formula is the same: you’ll be much happier doing your job if you’re at or near a location that appeals to you.
And for what it’s worth – you’ve got the entire WORLD to play with (more or less).
The Armed Forces offer 100% free tuition assistance so you can finish school and get that degree (I’m proud to say I earned my Bachelor’s Degree while on active duty). They provide you with room and board no matter if you’re single or married. And they provide you with more work than you can handle. The route I took was Radio and Television Broadcasting and it was a rare day that went by that I didn’t feel like I’d won the lottery. I produced so much videoÃ¢Â?Â¦reported on so many different storiesÃ¢Â?Â¦traveled to so many different placesÃ¢Â?Â¦that I lost track. I enjoyed knowing that I wasn’t just carrying equipment for someone with the hopes that “one day” I’d get a chance to be on camera. It happened immediately. Whether you repair radios or jet engines you will be “deep in” to the job before you know what hit you.
Consider this: you may or may not already have your college degree, but do you have any EXPERIENCE? If I’m an employer and I have to choose between someone who reported the news from Iraq and someone who anchored the news in a fake TV studio on campusÃ¢Â?Â¦who do you think I’m going to choose?
And THAT ladies and gentlemen is why the military is a good deal. It provides real-world EXPERIENCE and pays you at the same time. Certainly there are other ways to make it out there. The Armed Forces is only one option of many. So check it out thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line. The package you are offered may be the beginning of a whole new adventure in your life.
And a little adventure can be a good thing.