Thread: Thinking of joining the Military
7/14/2011 11:31pm, #51
Originally Posted by GezereClick To Get My Free Training Newsletter... Do It NOW!
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7/15/2011 8:42am, #52It won't matter its about getting what you want from the recruiter. I scored a 99 and the first thing the offered me was Cook, Infantry, and Heavy Mechanic. I looked at him sideways. When you figure out what you want stick to that. Remember you are not obligated until you swear in.
7/15/2011 10:01am, #53
Your medical history is important whether you enlist or try to go the officer's route, particularly with the Navy.
For example, if you have any history of asthma, hay fever, or serious allergies to certain things after the age of 13, the Navy will simply not take you no matter how well you are qualified, what skills you have, or if you are in great shape. I lost an appointment to the USNA that way and it was a big disappointment after a year of hard training and preparation to lose out to a technicality that came up during review of my medical records. Keep in mind the way our great military sometimes works, I got the letter of acceptance to Annapolis a few days BEFORE the disqualification letter. Harsh.
Other branches have their own policies, but it helps to do a little "presearch" to find out what kind of medical issues might cause a disqualification and waste your time. It could be anything, really, and something from 10-15 years ago you've forgotten about but if it DODMERB gets a hold of it you could be SOL.
IIRC, the Navy also disqualifies people if they had certain surgical procedures like radial kerototomy performed (but not LASIK, go figure)...
Last edited by W. Rabbit; 7/15/2011 10:15am at .
7/15/2011 10:14am, #54
So far Gezere's advice is winning.
The biggest mistake people in the military make is not taking advantage of all of the side benefits of being in the military. Whether it's the officer degree completion program to officer or enlisted tuition assistance, to the obscene military discounts available if you know where to look (most outdoors brands offer somewhere in the ballpark of 40-70% off if you take the time to apply for their prodeals), to tax free BAH, to FREE COMPREHENSIVE INSURANCE, to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, there are many many many things that act as equalizers. The fact of the matter is, as a married E5 about to be E6, I make more money than the majority of my friends who ended up as doctors or lawyers. Especially when you take into consideration the fact that I have zero debt, and they are 120-200k in. Sure, they will make it up eventually, but in that time, I could have done 20 years, retired, and be drawing a pension and in a second career. I'm not saying that's the route I want to go, but it is something to consider.
In fact, a good friend of mine just ETSed and became a contractor in the DC area. He took a contract that pays 105k per year, and after figuring up his monthly budget with having to pay for insurance for his family and such, realized that he makes about 100 dollars less than a married E6 in the DC area (he had 400 a month in foreign language pay on top of that).
I guess what I am trying to say by this is that people in the military are not particularly underpaid. Mostly they are bad at managing money and living within their means. That said, the military is what you make of it, and that is why I recommend either the Army or the Navy.
Opportunities. I have said this before on here, and I will say it again: There is nowhere else in the military besides the Army that you will have so many opportunities to do things that let you branch out. If you really want to push yourself, you can do Airborne, SFAS, option 40 (75th Ranger Regiment), Ranger school, CAG selection (Delta Force), USASED, etc etc etc. Not counting DEVGRU, most of the "do not exist" units are either under Army command or are heavily comprised of Army servicemembers. On top of all of that, if you choose more of a soft skill as opposed to being infantry, you will still have opportunities to do all of these things.
It's true, you can do many of those same things as a Marine, but it will be probably 10-20x more difficult. And while it is true that Marines are trained to do many of the same things the Rangers (specifically the 75th Ranger Regiment) do, they are stuck doing it with older equipment, LESS MONEY, less training, and without access to the small world of SOCOM, unless they are in MARSOC. Which again, is way more limited in slots than the Army when it comes to SOCOM units. Even then, the Rangers get to do way more cool stuff overseas, based on who they are affiliated with and what their mission is. I say this as a recent alum of the 75th. I'm in the DC area now.
Of all the services, the Navy wins for quality of life. If you join the Navy, you will probably spend a good portion of your career within 60 miles of a beach. Your quarters will be nice. Your base amenities will be amazing. Your chain of command will likely be very pleasant. You will rarely, if ever, have to do things that are extremely stupid and pointless. Coast guard is a viable and probably equivalent alternative to the Navy. The Air Force is also a pretty good choice for quality of life, but keep in mind you could spend a lot of your career stuck in Bumfuck middle America.
In summation, I don't think joining any branch of the military is a mistake, as long as you come in with a strategy. Figure out your goals, figure out alternatives if you do not immediately succeed, and most importantly, have an exit strategy. Don't be one of the countless middle to upper enlisted drifting aimlessly from duty station to duty station.
All of that said, if you want to make a career of the military, don't hesitate to go officer. The money is way better, the options afterward are generally better unless you happened to become particularly specialized as an enlisted guy, and life seems a lot better."No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal
7/15/2011 11:10am, #55
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
Your doctor and lawyer friends will make many, many times more than you ever will, even considering their debt and your retirement pay. It won't take them 20 years either, or anywhere close to it. Let's be realistic.
7/15/2011 11:29am, #56
On the other hand, the average internist Physician, according to the July 2011 issue of Kiplinger's, makes $183,990. This is post-residency and fellowship, I believe. Average debt for the average internist is $126,152. So if you subtract the montly payment on a 10 year repayment plan, that post residency Physician makes about $167,000. As I already mentioned, my friend, who was not with a SOCOM unit afforded SDP or even airborne pay, only linguist pay, is making slightly less than a married E6 @ 105K. If that same doctor happens to have to pay for healthcare for his entire family, that's going to take a large chunk out of his salary as well, whereas that's already factored in for someone in the military (and before we go ragging on substandard military healthcare, my wife uses the Johns Hopkins healthcare system, which counts as a tricare prime alternative . . . Raise your hand if you think Johns Hopkins sucks) So there certainly is a sizeable salary gap, but it is perhaps less than one might think. This would obviously not be the case if I were paired against a neurosurgeon or some other ridiculously specialized doctor, but the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of doctors do not make nearly as obscene a salary as one might think.
Now your average lawyer, according to the same source, makes about $129,020, and has $82,601 in debt. His monthly payment on a 10 year payment plan is $960, so that brings his salary down to $117,500. Less minus healthcare costs. Again, there is a gap, but it is less obscene than one might think.
This is not even taking into consideration all the special pays one can earn in the military if one tries, or the fact that I was getting paid to learn Arabic and get a TS security clearance, deploying (tacking on even more pay because it's tax free + hazardous duty pay), saving money, and investing even more money while my friends were stuck in medical school. Explaining why at 28, I am closing in a 100k nest egg, while my friends are all burdened with about the same in debt.
While I am not trying to pretend that I am a typical NCO in the military, I do feel as though I am a typical example of an NCO that has learned a lot of the ins and outs of how to make the military work for him/her.
Last edited by Cassius; 7/15/2011 11:38am at ."No. Listen to me because I know what I'm talking about here." -- Hannibal
7/15/2011 12:34pm, #57
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
I understand where you're coming from, but I think you're using the best possible scenario to represent military pay and I think you're grossly underestimating the earning potential of doctors and lawyers. I understand the benefits of military pay. My work also gives me access to earnings info for many doctors and lawyers. Despite the numbers from Kiplinger, I can assure you there are lots of opportunities for ambitious doctors and lawyers to exceed the total career earnings of a typical enlisted man in less than five years.
I also don't think your healthcare examples are typical for military personnel. I know a lot of folks who had horrible experiences with military medical and dental facilities.
7/15/2011 1:28pm, #58
- Join Date
- Jul 2002
- Rhineland Pfalz, Der Vaderland
You have to keep in mind that a Doctor in Miami isn't likely making as much as a doctor in Fayetteville. My friend who is a Dentist and takes care of my oldest braces brings in about $9000 a month. I bring $8000 with my base pay plus allowances. When I'm deployed I actually make more than he does. Also I'm 5 years away from retiring and he is still paying off school loans. Also both me and my wife have work so we do OK.
I also forgot COLA!!! Every time you get stationed overseas you get a Cost of Living Allowance and you can save a **** ton of money, if you are smart, because you bills are very low compared to living in the states. Last time I was in Germany are bills were Cell phone, Internet, Car Insurance. Groceries fluctuated but we ate out quite a bit and traveled A LOT. My doctor and lawyer friends might have visited Paris once or twice. I've lost track of how many times I would just get up pack the family and drive to some place. Our first wedding anniversary was in Amsterdam and we partied in Paris for the 2000 New Year.(I still have a bottle of wine they were giving out for the occasion) I've went to Tomatina in Spain and plan on running with the bulls next time we go back. I went to Oktoberfest way to many times to count. When I was in Korea I took hops to Oz, Singapore, and other place for almost nothing. (However that was a long time ago things have changed a bit)
I'm rambling but the point is that yes Doctors and Lawyers might make more but the intangible benefits more than make up for it. Which brings me to another point. If you get stationed overseas don't be a dumbass and sit in the barracks and drink beer. Get out and enjoy it. If your spouse is one of those "Eww its not like back home" or "I can't eat that its strange and different" dump that bitch and get you another. I know so many people who watch the Travel channel and wish they could experience those things. Well you have the opportunity to do just that. I know I invoke envy because I have people go "Oh I saw on TV that in Italy they do this or that" and we're like "Yep been there done that." Thankfully that was something that was instilled in my by my parents. I still remember him waking us up so we can go see the Berlin Wall coming down.______
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7/15/2011 1:45pm, #59
7/15/2011 2:11pm, #60
- Join Date
- Mar 2006
For starters, you realize that a dentist who makes $9000/month is a serious underachiever, right? I've personally seen dentists start up small practices and make around $500-$600K/yr in just a few years.
Seriously, you guys are painting the most ridiculous picture of military pay I've ever seen. Especially enlisted pay. If you honestly think you can compare your pay and lifestyle to that of a doctor, you're delusional. For starters, I don't know where you live but lots of guys live in base housing which is often shitty. If you're getting combat pay, it won't last forever. Plus, the other benefits from being in the military are balanced by the **** factor of being in the military, like being away from family for months on end.
If you want to talk about the fun deployments, tell the whole truth. The time off overseas is only a piece of it. The rest of the deployment your ass belongs to them. If you're in the Marine Corps or Navy you're likely stuck in a ship. That means weekends too. Or maybe you're in Iraq or Afghanistan and you can't leave your base except to go look for bad guys. When you look at the number of hours you're obligated to be somewhere for the government, your per hour pay is closer to a burger flipper than a doctor.
No matter how you want to slice it, the bottom line is this. If you're a career enlisted man in the US military, you're going to retire in the middle class. If you're a doctor, you're probably going to retire fairly wealthy. I'm not knocking military guys like "Ha ha, you're poor!" The pay is WAY better than when I was in. But quit trying to explain how someone can make doctor pay as an E6 in the military. It's silly.