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6 Things to Know Before Joining the U.S. Military

soldier-708711_960_720Serving as a soldier in the U.S. military is a dream shared by countless people at an early age. Once you reach the minimum age of enlistment that dream becomes realistic attainable. Before signing up, however, there are a few things you should know.

#1) Choose the Right Branch

Perhaps the most important thing to consider when joining the U.S. military is the branch. As you may already know, there are four branches: the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Each branch has its own function, requirements and specifications. Therefore, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with each of the four branches to determine which one is right for you.

#2) Medical Conditions May Disqualify

There are certain medical conditions that may disqualify you from joining the military. Most of these “permanently disqualifying ” conditions, however are associated with the heart or eyes. Other conditions can be wavered. So, talk with your recruiter to learn more about medical screening and how to obtain medical waivers for any conditions you have.

#3) You’ll Have to Pass Boot Camp

Of course, you’ll also have to pass boot camp once you’ve joined. Also known as “recruit training,” it’s a requirement for all four branches of the U.S. military. Boot camp consists primarily of physical tests and training exercises designed to mimic scenarios in combat. It’s a physically difficult and mentally exhausting process for which many recruits are not prepared. And if you don’t pass boot camp, you could get sent home.

#4) It’s a Four-Year Commitment

If you’re planning to join the U.S. military, be prepared to commit at least the next four years of your life. While enlistment requirements vary depending on the specific branch, most require at least four years of service. You should only join if you’re willing to make this commitment.

#5) You’ll Get an Education

Joining the military doesn’t just earn you a paycheck, it also gives you an education. You will learn how to work as team, obey orders and even lead others. Furthermore, you’ll learn key skills for your respective military occupation specialty (MOS).

#6) They Choose Your Job

Ultimately, the military will determine your job while you serve. If you joined the Army to specialize as a radio operator but the Army already has that position filled, they may place you elsewhere. You generally have some say in your job, but the military has the final word.

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