Joining the military may sound like a scary proposition to many high school
students, but the benefits can last a lifetime.
Guaranteed retirement pension for a military career, health care benefits, training that can guarantee a job after discharge, and the opportunity to travel around the world at the federal government’s expense are just a few of the advantages of a military career.
Plus, a college degree can oftentimes come alongside a military career — earned while in the military or after discharge. And, it can be at the government’s expense, too.
“Now, if you’re a supervisor and you’re thinking about hiring two different people, who are you going to hire? Are you going to hire the person who was in the Navy, Air Force, or whatever who has a degree and they have the job experience and they’ve been working on this stuff for four years, or are you going to hire the person who just has the college degree?” said Navy officer and recruiter Andrew Weber.
“Not only that, but they know you know what it’s like to live a drug-free lifestyle, you show up to work on time, and stuff like that,” Weber continued.
If you want the college afterwards, the military can provide $49,000 tuition in
addition to housing under the new GI Bill. Basic housing allowances for retired military in college are the same as for an E-5 active duty soldier, or, in this area, about $750 a month, Weber said. Other college programs can provide even more funds.
For those who don’t even want the college education attached, and look to make the military their life, the opportunities and guarantees are there, too.
“It doesn’t take any special person. It’s basically, if you can show up to work every day on time and be willing to work, then you are going to excel,” Weber said. “They learn discipline. No matter what, they are going to learn different types of leadership — basically, what it’s like to be your own person.”
A soldier not only earns basic pay, he can earn basic allowances for housing and subsistence, plus there are tax advantages when receiving a check from the federal government.
For a veteran with three dependents who remains in 10 years, and earns an E-8 ranking, he receives annual basic pay of $45,345.80. His total annual regular military compensation will be $73,508.47 (includes $3,886.44, subsistence; $20,052 housing; and $4,224.43 tax advantage). Those numbers continue to increase with each promotion.
More popular military career choices, according to Today’sMilitary.com, include being a pilot, nurse, engineer, arts, food service, special forces, infantry, and on and on — and for most of those no college is required outside of military training, but upon discharge a job will often be waiting.
Military can provide placement after discharge, too. According to the website, 88 percent of military jobs have direct civilian counterparts.
Or, the veteran can earn the equivalent of his apprenticeship while serving, and virtually have a job waiting for him when he leaves.
“There are a lot of people like that,” Weber said. “This is the way I try to tell them to look at it — if you just want to stay in for just the four years, you are going to get enough training and stuff like that to where you can get your degree just like someone else who just got out of high school and got their training. It’s completely paid for and everything like that.”
Recent Northwood graduate Lance Mendoza has chosen the U.S. Marines instead of earning his apprenticeship as a plumber/pipefitter. He, along with fellow Northwood grads Ronnie Koch, Brandon Bugbee, and Thomas Lackner were honored at a send-off ceremony prior to leaving for Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. in September.
“He’s not ready for college right now so I think this is a great other choice,” said Susie Mendoza, Lance’s mother. “He wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. His dad is a master steamfitter for Local 50, and Lance wants to be the same thing — and that’s the way we thought he was going to go — get into the apprenticeship program. He decided he wanted to do it through the military. That really took us for a throw.”
“All he’ll have to do is just take the test (after military service) and he’ll be able to get it. That’s it.” Susie continued.
Eastwood High School guidance counsellor Donna Schuessler recommends to her students that military is an option, and she welcomes recruiters to the school. In last year’s graduating class, two Eastwood students went directly into the military, which is about average, she said.
“Obviously, those things are changing but there are so many things you can be involved in, whether it’s the computer aspect or being in the military police,” Schuessler said.
“It’s all the different avenues you can go into are, I think, unbelievable,” Schuessler said. “Whether it’s the medical part of things, or whatever, there is so much they choose to do and it’s hands-on. I think sometimes kids don’t realize how much of it is hands on.
“Sometimes, you know what, kids are undecided as to what they want to do and it offers them an opportunity to experience some real-life opportunities as far as traveling, being useful and finding out what kinds of jobs are out there that they’ve never thought about,” Schuessler continued.
“As long as students are looking for some structure and some discipline, and I think for them those are good choices. As long as they are going in for the right reasons and they know how hard it is going to be when they have to work day-in and day-out and be up at a certain time. For some of those kids, that structure and discipline is a good approach.
“So I think you have to be open-minded. They can’t be close-minded to go off and do that type of work or choice because there are some things out there that are going to challenge them and that authority gets pretty tough,” Schuessler added.