Joining the military, for most, can be a life-altering decision.
Yes, even the Coast Guard too.
Others, on the other hand, aren’t too sure if it’s the right thing for them.
We’ve compiled this list of the top 20 reasons why you should join the military, and 7 reasons you should NOT.
This list is based on a recent poll we conducted, where we asked those that are currently serving in the military / did serve what their primary reasons for joining were.
Here’s a quick snapshot of that poll:
|Reason||Percentage (# of votes)|
|Serve Your Country||17.78% (24 votes)|
|Learn A New Skill or Trade||11.85% (16 votes)|
|See What You're Made Of||11.85% (16 votes)|
|Get Out Of Your Hometown||9.63% (13 Votes)|
|Travel||8.89% (12 Votes)|
|Get In Shape||8.15% (11 Votes)|
|Save Money||7.41% (10 Votes)|
|GI Bill||6.67% (9 Votes)|
|Honor A Family Tradition||5.93% (8 Votes)|
|Get Experience For A Civilian Career||5.93% (8 Votes)|
|Other||5.91% (8 Votes)|
Hopefully, this list will help guide you in the right direction if you’ve been on the fence!
Top 20 Reasons To Join The Military
#1. Serve Your Country
If you feel a sense of patriotism or duty towards the American people, joining the military is a great option.
Once you’ve served, you’ll be filled with a sense of pride.
There’s nothing like walking around in your uniform and having someone thank you for your service.
#2. Get in Shape
The physical demands of Basic Training and the daily workouts the military requires are an added benefit to joining.
You’ll develop cardiovascular and muscular strength that you didn’t know you were capable of having.
Plus, if your job is physically demanding—think infantry—it is your job to be in your best.
Let me put it like this: you’ll be getting paid to workout.
#3. GI Bill
In the US, the average cost of an in-state undergraduate degree is around $40,000.
For out-of-state, it is closer to $100,000. However, if you utilize the GI Bill, not only will your tuition be waived, you’ll also get paid to learn.
The living stipend is based on the zip code of your school.
In San Francisco, for example, you’ll make $4,398 a month to get your degree.
The GI bill is one of the best reasons to join the military, by far!
Related Article – Top 15 Military Schools For Boys And Girls
#4. Be Part of Something Bigger Than Yourself
Most of us go through our daily lives working towards something that is going to benefit us.
As a member of the military, you’ll have the opportunity to serve a cause that affects the whole world.
When people back home talk about the war overseas, you’ll have a firsthand perspective to add to the conversation.
#5. Earn Respect and Admiration from Your Peers
I can’t tell you how often my friends introduce me to others by mentioning my service in the Army.
Almost always, I get the same reaction.
Wow. That’s really admirable of you.
I never brag about it, but, to be honest, it always feels good to hear.
Not to mention, everyone always wants to buy me a beer.
#6. Honor a Family Tradition
Maybe your Dad or Mom served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines, and you want to make them proud.
Sometimes, military legacies reach a few generations back. Following in the footsteps of a relative can instill a great sense of pride.
Additionally, your family members will be able to advise you on how to be successful while serving.
#7. Experience for a Specific Civilian Career
The majority of jobs in the military will directly transfer to the civilian world.
For example, if you plan on pursuing a job in law enforcement, serve a few years in the military police.
Not to mention, having military experience on your resume typically goes a long way with employers.
A background in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines shows leadership ability and a strong work ethic.
Check out some of the best jobs available in 2020 below:
Getting to travel is probably one of the first reasons people think of when considering joining the military.
In addition to the obvious places—Iraq and Afghanistan—service-members get to go all over.
The US military has international bases such as Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland and South Korea to name a few.
Stateside traveling can be just as exciting. There are military bases in Alaska and Hawaii.
Related Article – List of Army Bases in the US
#9. Get Out of your Hometown
Hometowns can be great. They’re comfortable, familiar, and full of people you know and trust.
But they can also be traps, and hopping in a car and taking off is expensive.
Joining the military is a great option if you’re looking to get away from home.
#10. Medical Care
Healthcare is one of the most controversial topics today.
No matter your position on the subject, one thing is clear: a visit to the doctor is expensive!
The military provides free and top-notch, full health coverage for its members and their families.
Personally, I met more than a few guys who were ecstatic to finally get their teeth fixed.
#11. Save Money
If you’re looking to get rich, the military is not the best option for you (see number 1 below).
However, since the military provides you with everything you need, it is also a unique opportunity to save money.
If you’re conscious of your money, it’s possible to serve and get out with a comfortable savings account.
#12. Gain Worldly Perspective
You’ll get to do a lot of traveling in the military.
However, one thing I didn’t mention is the benefit of all that traveling. Exploring the world and experiencing cultures and people different from your own is the best way to gain perspective.
Imagine seeing how people live in the mountains of Afghanistan.
After that, you’ll have a new appreciation for the comforts many Americans take for granted every day.
#13. Learn a Skill/Trade
Joining the military doesn’t mean that you have to become an expert shooter or warrior.
There are hundreds of unique positions in the military, and many of them apply to the civilian workforce.
Check out full lists for the various careers available in each branch below:
#14. Friends for Life
Spending every day for an entire year with the same guys can be stressful.
The flip side to that is that you’ll create bonds with people that will last the rest of your life.
You’ll have friends that will watch you grow and get married, and friends you can call when times get hard.
The people I met in the military make all the suffering I endured worth it.
#15. Early Retirement
With a parental waiver, you can actually join the military at just 17 years of age.
Now, it only takes 20 years of service to become eligible for retirement.
That means that you could collect a pension, have full health coverage forever, and start a whole other career before you’re 40!
Related Article: 15 Best States For Military Retirees And Veterans
#16. Meet People from All Over the US
The United States is a huge country, and the people that encompass it differ greatly depending on where they’re from.
When you join the military, you’ll meet people from big cities and towns of a few hundred.
People from the country, people from the suburbs. Some people that grew up poor and others that grew up rich.
#17. VA Home Loan
With the VA Home Loan, veterans can purchase a home for zero money down. Additionally, many of the purchasing fees are waived.
It was hard for me to imagine purchasing a home before I joined the military.
With the VA Home Loan, I found a great house, and I didn’t have to wipe out my savings or go into debt to make my dream come true.
#18. Small Business Assistance
Similar to the VA Home Loan, the VA also supports veterans who are interested in starting a small business.
Here’s a direct quote from the Small Business Administration website:
SBA programs provide access to capital and preparation for small business opportunities. They can also connect veteran small business owners with federal procurement and commercial supply chains.
#19. Learn Structure and Discipline
No matter what your specialty in the military is, your time in the service will instill in you a strong work ethic.
The military does not believe in quitting, and laziness on the job is never tolerated. It can be hard at times, but always worth it.
When you get out of the military, employers will see someone who works hard and can be trusted to get the job done.
#20. See What You’re Made of
The military has a limitless amount of challenges if pushing yourself physically and mentally interests you.
There is a myriad amount of schools that you can sign up for, like Airborne School, Air Assault School, or even Ranger School.
Related Article: Green Berets Vs. Rangers Vs. Delta Force: Some MAJOR Differences
7 Reasons To NOT to Join the Military
The simple fact of the matter is that the military is not for everyone.
In my time, I met some guys that just should have never signed up to join.
The following is a list of reasons to NOT join the military:
#1. To Get Rich
Different from number 11 above, the military is not the occupation you want if getting rich is your ultimate goal.
Pay for enlisted soldiers starts at just $1,600 per month (that’s under $20K a year).
For E-5 Sergeants with a few years of service, the pay barely doubles that.
Even though the opportunity to save a lot of your income is available, getting rich isn’t going to happen.
Check out the ranks and pay for each branch below:
#2. To Kill Someone
This is actually one of the biggest reasons why guys want to join the military, although it’s a bit misguided.
Though I wanted to seek revenge for my fellow countrymen and women that died in 9/11, I drew a clear distinction between that feeling and wanting to kill.
I was prepared to take a life, but I never wanted to.
If you want to join to know what it’s like to kill, you’ve watched too many movies, and real soldiers are going to laugh in your face.
#3. On a Whim
Joining the military is a huge life decision and not one that should be taken lightly.
Whether or not you plan on signing up for one of the combat-related jobs, you will be signing away at least three years of your life.
Where you live, how you get to dress—for a few years, these decisions are not up to you.
Think it over.
#4. To Impress a Girl (or a Guy)
Let’s just keep this one short, shall we? You go to Basic Training and come out physically fit.
Related Article: How Hard Is Army Basic Training?
You go off overseas and come back with a worldly perspective. You’re a better person all-around.
What’s the girl/guy back home been doing since you’ve been gone? Moving on.
You should too.
#5. If You Want Control Over Where You’re Going to Live
Before I joined there was a rumor that I get to write down my top three preferred duty stations.
Unfortunately, that’s just patently wrong.
The military places its members where it needs them, hence the term “service.”
It takes years of serving and moving up in rank until you get any say in where you can live.
#6. If You Really Can’t Imagine the Idea of Complete Structure
If you can’t imagine being told what to do, where to go, what kind of tattoos you can have, and how to dress every day, don’t join.
Additionally, the rank structure in the military is a one-way road. No exceptions.
Your leadership should never belittle you.
However, there will be times when you are expected to take verbal and/or physical punishment.
On top of that, you are not allowed to give your side of the story.
#7. If you don’t like exercise
It should go without saying that the military is going to demand that you run, push, pull, sit-up, and climb on a regular basis.
You don’t need to be a stud to succeed in the military, but if you really hated P.E. in high school, I don’t suggest joining up.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What are some of the benefits of joining the military?
Some of the most popular benefits of joining the US military is the job training, educational assistance, steady paycheck, health coverage, and housing benefits. See a full list of the benefits here.
What are the requirements to join the military?
Requirements vary between branches, but overall, you must be between 18 and 34 years of age, have a high school diploma or equivalent, no serious medical problems, be physically fit, and able to pass the ASVAB with the minimum score.
Which military branch is the best?
While each branch offers different opportunities, most airmen will say that the Air Force offers more for those interested in technology. Recruits interested in combat or a future in security would prefer the Army or Marine Corps.
What are the healthcare benefits of joining the military?
Active duty service members and their families get free medical care under TRICARE. Retirees can receive free health care from the Veterans Administration, while honorably separated members can receive low-cost care if they meet the income caps.
Will the military pay for college?
The military offers several ways to help pay for college, which is especially useful if you’re just graduating High School. The GI Bill provides up the 36 months of school while on active duty and for 15 years after. Active duty members also receive 100% tuition assistance for career education.
If you’ve been thinking about joining the military, but are unsure where to start, check out this article.
It gives a solid breakdown of what life is like in each branch of the US military, and is a tremendous resource.
In any event, there are plenty of good reasons to join the military.
It’s all a matter of figuring out where your priorities are, as well as weighing the pros and cons in your own current life situation.
Hopefully, this article helped guide you in your journey!