We have been asked more times than we can count about our experience in the military. People ask Kevin about his experience and what to look for when joining. I thought it would be great to have him answer some questions for us today.
1. Why did you decide to join the military?
While my initial reason for joining the military might not seem so admirable it felt like my only choice. I joined for several reasons. The first reason was the simple fact that I wanted to move away from home and become my own man. Second, I had no other way of paying for college. I didn't want to take out loans for my education, and my grades were good but not good enough to earn a scholarship. The sense of pride and honor in serving my country came later as I learned to respect the men and women that I served with every day.
2. Why did you pick the Air Force?
This is a great question. I had been in contact with a Marine recruiter who literally called me every day wanting to know my decision. I began to seek counsel from individuals that I knew had previously served in different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Air Force seemed like the logical choice because the career that you choose in the military as well as the branch says a lot about you when you re-enter the civilian world. The career that you choose also remains the same throughout your time in the U.S. Air Force as opposed to other branches. In the Army for example, no matter what career field you choose your first job is always infantry.
3. Everyone says that you sign your life away when you join. Is this true, and why?
Yes, that rumor is completely true, however, you must understand that you are signing up for a 2, 4, or 6 year term of servitude to your country. You are told what to do, when, and where to do it and if you do not comply with your orders there are stiff consequences that follow.
4. Any advice for those deciding on a branch of military to join?
Here is the order in which I would advise someone contemplating joining the military to consider before making the final commitment. Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines and here is why.
Air Force - After Basic Military training you travel to your different training facilities. Once you arrive on site for your permanent duty station its almost like any other job.
Navy - This branch also picks the best and brightest as the Air Force however consider the fact that if you are assigned to a naval vessel then you are basically deployed from the time your ship leaves the harbor. That's where you'll be for the next 6-12 months of your life at a time.
Army - You really build a close bond with the members of your team, however, again you're always considered infantry. You may not always get to perform the job you were actually trained to do.
Marines - You get to blow stuff up! However, your life is on the line every day. Don't get me wrong; someone has to make the sacrifice. Consider the price that must be paid if you're asked to do so.
5. What should someone know before signing up at the recruiter's office?
First things first, you can take the ASVAB up to three times. Keep in mind that the sections you score the highest on for this exam is what will be the recruiters guide to placing you in a military career. You really need to think this one through. Once you know the sections you scored the highest on, don't be afraid to pick your own career because the recruiters job is to place you in the career that needs you. Stick to your guns and go with your gut when selecting your job. If it doesn't feel right then don't feel obligated to continue, as you are not bound by anything at this point. Lastly, if you are offered an enlistment bonus then please don't turn it down. It may mean signing up for a couple more years of duty, but it will ease some of the burden of service. FYI, Uncle Sam doesn't pay that well so take what's given to you. Bonuses sometimes come with more rank which also translates into more salary.
6. How do you ensure that you get the job you want once you enlist?
This is mostly done through the recruitment phase as mentioned above, however, there will be a final option that usually allows you to select a more specified field. For instance, during the final few weeks of Basic Military Training (BMT), I had the option to select whether I worked as a Crew Chief on Heavy or Fighter Aircraft. I chose Heavy Aircraft as it offered a better translation into the civilian workforce. You be the judge of this one as it will depend on your specialty and branch of service. It's better to have this finalized as much as possible at the recruitment office.
7. Any other words of wisdom?
Here is my disclaimer, this is written from an Air Force slant and only based on my experiences and the experiences of friends and family who have served in each branch of military. Remember this above all else, join for the right reasons or you will be completely miserable. Key advantages are knowing how to work well with others as this is a team oriented environment, placing others before self, integrity, and performing your best is required as lives are always on the line. All else aside, joining the U.S. Air Force was one of the best choices and most rewarding experiences of my life.
If I were to add one thing, it would be to pray about the decision. We wish you the best!