The decision to join the military is one that carries significant weight, particularly for young individuals on the threshold of adulthood. Military service has long been a path chosen by young men and women seeking purpose, discipline, and a chance to serve their country. However, like any major life choice, it comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Image source: Ministry of Defence, Republic of Serbia
The National Military Family Association (NMFA) has once again collaborated with Bloom to gain a deeper insight into the lives of America’s military teens. In a consecutive annual endeavor, they employed the validated 7-item Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (SWEMWBS) to assess the well-being of the military teen community aged 13 and above. Through this partnership, the NMFA aims to further comprehend and address the unique challenges and experiences these young individuals associated with the military face.
Benefits of Military Service for Young People
As society continues to debate the merits of military service for young people, exploring the pros and cons that shape this unique path is crucial. In this article, we delve into the key considerations, discussing the potential benefits and drawbacks associated with military service, ultimately enabling individuals to make informed decisions about their future.
1. Education and Training
When you join the military, you have the opportunity to pursue your college education and professional development at a very reduced cost. There are a variety of merit-based scholarships, for example, the GI Bill and Financial Support for College, which can assist you in paying for tuition and other educational-related expenses.
You will also have the opportunity to get training programs, leadership courses, as well as certifications to hone your skills. They even extend care and support to families of Military Personnel.
2. Quality Healthcare
By joining the military, you are able to save more from your paycheck as the Army will provide health care coverage for free or at a reduced cost to help support your well-being and that of your family. According to the US Department of Defence, the Army provides comprehensive family health coverage, including medical, vision, dental, pharmacy, and life insurance. Although part-time soldiers must pay a token for their health care and that of their families, full-time service enjoys free health care.
3. Competitive and steady Salary
During your service in the military, you can be certain to earn a steady and competitive salary which would improve the longer you stay in the military and as you advance in the ranks. You also enjoy allowances to pay for housing, food, and clothing; all of these come together to ensure that you are able to save more from your paycheck.
4. Opportunity to travel
While hardly a vacation experience, being an active-duty military member allows you to be stationed anywhere in the world and gain the unique life experiences that accompany it. Traveling and living abroad are not reasons to join the military, but the perspective you would get on life is unquestionably noteworthy. Being in the military is a difficult job that requires self-sacrifice.
5. Fitness and development
There are a number of physical requirements throughout basic training and when you’re on active service, which will maintain you in top physical form and teach you crucial soft skills like self-discipline.
Cons of Military Service for Young People
1. It can be a dangerous job
You should seriously ask yourself if you are willing to put yourself in danger or do harm to others before thinking about joining the military. When assessing the pros and drawbacks of military duty, this is most likely your most crucial factor.
Even if you are not engaged in active combat, you may still be exposed to extremely dangerous situations depending on your stationed location and military job. Additionally, even after completing your military service and being out of imminent danger, you could still experience increased anxiety or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
2. You can be away from loved ones
Military life can undoubtedly be advantageous in terms of travel and seeing the world, but for some, homesickness and missing significant family events—holidays, the birth of a child, or taking care of a loved one—can be an unaffordable cost.
The majority of service members must travel frequently while they are in the military. This journey could take place within the country or outside. Before enlisting in the military, it’s critical to ascertain whether you and your family are prepared to travel for the duration of your contract.
3. It is physically demanding
Even if remaining in shape and sharp could be viewed as a benefit of serving in the military, there are costs involved. Training is extremely demanding in the military, and the days can be long and exhausting. Your mental health may also suffer as a result of the physical demands of the job. If that makes you nervous, this may not be your job route.
4. Military life is highly structured
Although the military teaches you how to be disciplined, not every personality will be successful there. It is not up to service personnel to decide where they are stationed, what they eat, or when they can take a break. Soldiers are taught to obey orders from how to make their bed to how to dress their hair.
If you consider yourself a free spirit or someone who enjoys defying convention, be aware that this is contrary to what military life will teach and demand of you. You might want to think twice before enlisting in the military as a result.
5. It is a huge commitment
The decision to enlist in the military is a major one. You sign a contract when you enlist in the military that specifies how long you’ll serve. This agreement is a binding legal document that cannot be revoked or modified.
Although it can range from two to nine years, the median length of commitment is between four and five years. You are contractually required to serve for the specified period of time once you have signed this contract, and early discharge could result in severe legal repercussions.
Deciding whether to pursue military service is a significant decision for young people, and it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons carefully. The military offers unique opportunities for personal and professional growth, educational advancement, and a sense of purpose. However, it also entails sacrifices, including physical demands, restricted personal freedom, and potential risks. Ultimately, individuals must assess their personal goals, values, and readiness to embrace the challenges and rewards that military service can bring.