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Joining the U.S. Army: Pros and Cons From a Soldier's Viewpoint

Jessica and her fiancé are both in the Army, and she knows a great deal about the pros and cons of enlisting!

11 Pros of Joining the Army

1. Job Security

When you join the Army, you are put in a certain job; if you tested well, you are put into the job you wanted according to availability. Then you go through Basic Training, and upon passing this, you continue on to Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Upon completion of these two courses, you become qualified for that job you were given. The job will be yours; there will be no lay-offs.

Note: Only after completion of both Basic and AIT is the job yours. If failure of one or both of these training courses is a result, then you may lose your job and you would most likely be assigned with a less than desirable job. Transferring to another job is possible based on various and widely ranged circumstances. My fiancé transferred to a different job just recently, and I can transfer to another job if I'm willing to give up the enlistment bonuses I was given. If I don't want to give up my bonus, I can pick another job when I enlist in a few years. There are options.

2. Income Annually Adjusted for Inflation

Based on inflation, we get a pay raise every year.

3. Dependable Retirement Benefits

It's not a question mark.

4. Learn and Train in New Skills

The Army takes pride in the constant and consistent learning of its soldiers. It's definitely a pride of mine; the Army assists me in my goal to always keep learning.

5. Stay in Shape and Stay Healthy . . . and Get Paid Doing It!

It's a joke in the army, but it's also a reality that we get paid for doing something we would do habitually even if we weren't in the Army.

6. Gain Lasting Friendships

The Army is its own community, and as a community, it has its own experiences. It's a great thing to know when you can count on a buddy with your life.

7. Learn More About Yourself

With the extreme training environments, the Army puts you through you tend to learn a lot more about yourself than you would working at your local movie store or internship, etc. The Army places its soldiers through extreme training so that the soldier will be ready for anything and thus more likely to come home unscathed. I learned more about myself and my abilities in six months of Army training than I have in 10 years of my life.

8. Skip Out on the Routine Life

Army life is definitely different. Training is constantly changing; something different always needs to be done or learned. It's great for people who don't like to stand idle.

9. Take a Break From School/Work

With the choice of joining the military comes the outcome of your decision—if you're Active Army, you have the life of a soldier on a base and possibly a deployment in the future; if you're Army Reserve, you will have a deployment on your hands. If it's a break from school or work you want, then more power to ya; you'll get it. (Side comment: debt free!)

10. Educational Benefits

The Army promotes learning. It may take you out of school or work for a year or two, but learning and becoming a better person is always #1 so that you can do your job to its utmost effectiveness. So take a break from school or work and work as a medic or intel analyst for the Army, and let the Army help you expand your mind and your life.

11. Full-Time Pride in the Job That You Do

One of the reasons why some join the Army is that they are not interested in working in corporate offices. To them and me, the 9–5 shift working in cubicles represents an empty, hollow, and meaningless way to live. By joining the Army, we gain the meaning and the knowledge that we are serving our country in a way that we can be proud of.

Afterthought: Joining the Army is not for everyone, and hopefully, this will enlighten anyone who's wondering if the Army is for them.

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Tidbit of random information: Something that lightens the burden on soldiers is that when they deploy they receive a tax-free paycheck. Isn't that a good gift to discover?

10 Cons of Joining the U.S. Army

1. If the Army's Not for You, You'll Hate It

Think carefully before you join; do your research. You always have time. The Army's maximum enlistment age is 42. Don't rush your decision.

2. Separation

My fiance is also in the Army, and he's already been to Iraq and back. I had to endure the separation of that time, and it's no small thing to ignore. Separation from your loved ones, whether you are in the military or you're a family member, is one of the aspects of military life that can make or break a person.

3. Political Party of the President

No matter what, you must be willing to follow the orders of the current president, no matter the political affiliation.

4. Early Wake-Up

Enough said.

5. Less Predictable and Controllable Schedule

An office job might be better if you like predictability.

6. The Food

Army food, depending on where you're stationed, will be either enjoyable or edible. Endure it and drive on.

7. Life Is Challenging

From day one: no whining, no complaining, and NO EXCUSES.

8. Possible Injury or Death

The risk is real; think before you act.

9. Not Everyone Supports the Military

At times non-military personnel will be ignorant as to what you do in the Army and will act out against you with some sort of self-righteous display. Not everyone supports us, and every soldier needs to deal with that. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.

10. There's a Lot of Running

A lot of running. Deal with it, soldier, and drive on.

It's Doing Some Good

With this war, we're raging and the anger we're seeing among us because of an "unjust war," there is plenty of good that has been done: This is the first time there's been another democracy in the Middle East.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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