*Joining the Military - Questions Abound - Help Appreciated!


New Member
Firstly, I'd like to say hello to everyone and let you know how impressed I am with this website. My name is Paul, I'm a 23-years-old male from Rhode Island, and I've always had a distinct desire to serve my country via military service. At this specific point in my lifetime, joining the military has never appeared more logical or provided me with as much excitement. I'd love nothing more than to support my country in such an avenue -- even if only for a restricted period of time.

However, as I'm sure many can relate .. understanding the complexity of the military can be somewhat overwhelming for outsiders. Many of my friends who serve presently often struggle to answer the many questions regarding different branches of the military, job opportunities, and tuition reimbursement. Essentially, that's why I'm here ... writing this very post.

Briefly, here's my story:

As I mentioned prior, I'm 23 years old. I attend college outside Boston, and I am one semester (two classes) shy of graduating with a BA in both Psychology and Criminal Justice (double major). I'm in very good physical health, as I perform weight/cardiovascular training at least 5 days per week. Upon graduation, I am pondering entering the military as an officer -- more than likely only to serve four years.

Why am I interested?

1) I've always yearned to serve my country through the military for at least a term of four years. The lifestyle and its discipline intriques me. I feel there's a strong degree of respect and honor than comes along with such a commitment.

2) I am very much interested in a career in Criminal Justice. For years, I've dreamed of becoming a police officer .. specifically for the State Police. Other career interests? Law school. Psychology. I figure military experience will only improve my attractiveness to employers after my service time is complete.

3) Financial reasons. As an officer, the military pays fairly well. I plan on being single throughout my service time, which would allow for a decent amount of saving. Additionally, my college loans would at least be deferred.

** This is where many of my questions lie. I have a very good friend in the Air Force that has informed me that upon entry into the AF, the branch has an option that would allow up to 50,000 dollars of debt to be relieved. Of course, my "debt" would be my college loans. He insists this is true, and has informed me to ask every recruiter about this alternative until he/she confirms this.

As far as my research has taken me, I've only found this:


"If you have gone to college or are going to college, and have loans to repay, the military may be able to help. The Army offers the biggest help, repaying up to $65,000 in college loans. The Navy and Air Force pay up to $10,000."

Having a significant portion of my college fees payed for was a major incentive for me to join the military -- does anyone know more about this?

4) Experience with leadership. Gaining career related skills (Criminal Justice/policing). Seeing another side/region of the country/world.

5) Fulfillment.

Now that you know why I want to join the military, here are some of my most central questions/concerns:

1) What branch of the military would be best for me?

This decision has been difficult for me, for I've been given a lot of "advice" here and there on where I should joing an why.

"Go to the Air Force, they're more educationally based and you probably won't see Iraq."

"Join the Army! You'll be promoted faster and thus, make more money."

"Yo, you'll love the navy. The officers there have it made!"

"Forget the Marines, you'll be in a sand dune in Iraq in less than 6 months."

While I was leaning toward the Air Force at first, I admit now that I'm dealing with some indecision.

But what I do know is this:

A) Career opportunities are important to me. I'd like to be an officer is a police-related field .. study law .. or continue my education is Psycholgy. One of these opportunities would have to be made guaranteed before I joined.

B) Money does matter, specifically the re-paying of my college loans. Have all or most of my loans paid off would be an extreme relief.

C) I'd prefer to stay in the country .. but I'd be okay (yet less enthused)with Iraq or another foreign country. I know that in any branch, leaving the country is possible .. but it does seem as though some branches are less likely to be deployed.

D) Lifestyle. How different would by way of living be in each branch?

2) Again, how realistic is tution reimbursement? What questions should I be asking my recruiter regarding this issue?

3) Which branch would best allow me to satiate my career interests? (Policing, Law school, Psychology)

For now .. that's all I can think of. I appreciate all of you who took the time to read my post and reply with any helpful information. I hope to be serving my country soon.

Thanks again in advance.
That's a lot of stuff...I will tackle what I can

Loan Repayment Program

The Army and Navy will give you $65,000. According to the link below, the LRP for the Army and Navy is only availible for enlisted soldiers and not officers. I know you want to do Air Force but they can only offer $10,000.

Tution Reimbursement

TR is definately a real thing. There are 2 types and I have done both. One type is to get 75% of the class paid before you take the class. A $400 class becomes $100. BUT if you do not meet the grade standard (I think 2.0 but I may be wrong), you'll have to cough up the $300 discount. The other type is when you pay the total cost of the class up front. Once you complete the class, then you turn in the paper work and get the 75% back. In both cases you need permission from your Commander.

I really cannot clearly answer anymore questions. Since I am in the Army I can help you best with questions about the army. I will say this about living conditions in the military. It seems where ever I go, people are always complaining about where they live. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side. Even the people living at Baghdad International Air Port complained...and that place is like the Beverly Hills of Iraq. If you got any questions, just ask

SSG Doody
Firstly, thanks for taking the time for informing me of all you know.

So as far as you believe, I couldn't go into any branch of the military and have a large sum (65,000 or so) payed for?

Does anyone else know anything about this?
You had better join quick if you're 23, depending on the service you want.
Max Ages:

Army - 34
Air Force - 27
Navy - 34
Marines - 28
Coast Guard - 27
Air Force.

The promotion issue is mainly an enlisted one, not for officers. Officers generally get promoted at the same rate.

You may still be sent to Iraq, regardless of branch. If Air Force, you'd more likely be sent to the UAE, Oman, Turkey, etc.

Stateside, all officers have it pretty good. Naval officers have it better aboard ships, but that's a relative statement.

If I were to do it again, I would spend my whole time in the Air Force.

As far as your career, since you don't seem to have a unique career goal, all of the branches have law enforcement units, lawyers, etc. Don't bank on being a military psychologist.
It really is a decision only you can make, each branch of military service has things in common, and some stuff is totally different. One thing that remains the same is the core values eventhough they are worded differently they pretty much amount to the same thing.

Before I joined six years ago I was told that it does not matter what MOS you pick, but that is incorrect. If possilbe, I mean if you qualify for it, chose a job that you like one that you can live with in day in and day out. Remember if you are going active duty once you sign your name on the dotted line the military own you 24/7 365, so you might as well be doing something that you enjoy, because it would be a shame to go through a career or whatever time of enlistment not doing something that you enjoy.

There is going to be difference in jobs that you can aquire, the way the jobs are, how fast you get rank, the way you are treated, depending upon which branch you choose.

You have to make a decision on whether you want to make a career out of it, or just something that you want to do for a little while. At your age you may be done with college already so the GI Bill or whatever may not be of benifit to you.

I guess I will stop here let me know if I can be of more help, if I even was of help at all.