There’s never been a better time for a High School graduate to join the U.S. military. With the economy growing sluggishly and major overseas operations coming to a close, the opportunities in the military might be the best available to many young Americans.
The military’s a great choice even if you just look at compensation. It’s very hard to find a full-time job in many places. New enlistees make at least $1500 cash every month, many times just for being in training. In addition to the monthly salary, meals and housing are paid for. That housing often takes the form of a nice private or semi-private dorm room too, not just a bunk in an open bay. Meals are comparable to what you’ll get at the best hotels and all you can eat buffet lines. On top of spending cash, all the food you can eat and nice accommodations, you’ll see unpaid benefits that are worth big bucks. Healthcare, dental treatment, a free gym membership, tuition assistance, cheap groceries at the commissary and other fringe benefits add up to a compensation package that most recent High School graduates find hard to match.
Job training in a real career field is another fantastic reason to join the military. They don’t just teach you when to change the basket in the French fryer or how many pepperonis go on a large. You can get valuable training in almost every vocation imaginable. Look around where you work and think about the training available in order to advance in your career. Chances are, it’ll be nowhere near as thorough and expensive as the military’s.
Career advancement is swift and fair in the military. Within a few years, that initial $1500 monthly salary will approach or exceed $2000. With that extra compensation comes responsibility, authority and pride. You will quickly grow from being one of the troops; to being their leader. You’ll grow to be an experienced professional in whatever vocation you choose. What leadership opportunities are there where you’re working now?
If furthering your education is important to you, it’s hard to beat the Post 9/11 GI Bill. This US Military educational benefit pays for even the most expensive public college in your state of residence. If you wait until you separate from the service, they also pay a generous housing allowance while you’re attending college. The benefit lasts for 36 months, equal to 4 years of college not including summers. They even throw in $1000 a year for books and fees with extra funding available if you need a tutor. Stack that up against your current employer’s educational benefit.
The money and opportunity is hard to argue with. Pay, benefits, training and work experience are critical to gaining your independence. But perhaps the greatest benefit of joining the military is the sense of personal pride, growth and camaraderie you’ll get. Friendships made in service to your country are like the training and experience; they last a lifetime.