Enlistment stories tend to vary between new soldiers at basic combat training. Basic trainees are always talking about things they wish their recruiters had told them. Some soldiers get really fantastic recruiters who take them to working military bases. They tell them all about different education and job opportunities. Then there are the recruiters who don’t offer any additional helpful information. Answers must be pried out of them with a crowbar. Ultimately, a potential recruit must be his or her own advocate. He or she can ask the tough questions and demand answers. Listed below are the 10 things recruiters don’t tell potential enlistees.
Recruiters like to talk about jobs that need to be filled. Not everybody wants to be a helicopter mechanic. Some people do though, and that’s great! Avoid the jobs with big bonuses attached. It is important to choose a job in a field of particular interest. Depending upon the contract length, a soldier may be in a given field for up to six or eight years. There are really cool jobs available that a recruiter may never offer information about. A recruit should ask as many questions as possible and do plenty of independent research.
Recruiters are typically in a four, six or eight-year mindset. This means that they are not thinking about a recruit’s future beyond enlistment. Enlistment, basic training, advanced individual training and a first permanent duty station are all short-term issues. Recruits should consider the long-term impact of their career decisions. This issue also goes back to the importance of finding the perfect job. So many jobs in the military are great for crossing over into the civilian world. Unfortunately, there are some jobs that just don’t offer a lot of career longevity. Very few civilian job positions need expert marksmen on staff.
Recruiters typically speak with high school graduates. They tend to forget about great programs that are available to college graduates. It is essential to tell a recruiter about student loans! The United States government will actually pay those loans back. The College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is a great incentive program for college graduates with student loan bills. This offer is typically available with a three year contract. Enlistment agreements may vary between different branches. A recruiter can give enlistees up-to-date information about this program.
The commercials are pretty glamorous. There is usually a really tough looking pilot, and a dozen airborne rangers jumping into the sky. The whole thing is set to a radical guitar solo. Recruiters aren’t exactly going to tell a potential recruit that the real military is nothing like the commercial. Some people may have that experience, but it is not the typical situation. Basic training is pretty hardcore, but most of the Army is kind of like having a regular job.
Recruiters are never going to talk about how disgusting basic training is. Personal hygiene is apparently optional for some people. Everybody shares a living space. Army barracks are typically old and moldy! Family members should send baby wipes, cough drops and hand sanitizer in care packages. Field training is usually the cleanest place to be. Bodies are stressed out and run down. Everybody seems to have a perpetual case of mild to severe bronchitis. One begins to wonder about asbestos and other harmful substances. Basic training is not sanitary. It is essential to look at the bright side. It is great training for soldiers that will eventually spend time in third-world countries. Some of them might even be cleaner!
The Army isn’t the awesome, high-speed, action-packed music video it is cracked up to be. Most jobs are incredibly tedious and filled with paperwork. To reiterate a point, take job selection very seriously. For the most part, the Army is a giant organization. There are grunts, middle-managers and big executives. They are easy to identify, because they wear their rank.
In addition to being totally filthy, basic training is actually difficult! It is physically and mentally demanding. It is an isolated and strange planet filled with pushups and M16 rifles. Basic training is a little bit easier for recruits that are already in shape. Soldiers should also avoid standing out. There are a variety of ways to ensure basic training goes as smoothly as possible.
Recruiters may tell college graduates that they get the awesome benefit of enlisting as an E4. A recruiter may forget to mention Officer Candidate School. Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a commissioning program for college graduates. This allows new recruits to bypass the enlisted ranks and go directly into leadership positions. The pay is much higher. The jobs are more suitable for college graduates.
A recruiter may or may not share this valuable piece of information. Military members are wise to get everything in writing. There is no such thing as a verbal agreement in the military. There needs to be a paper trail. Recruiters, drill sergeants, company commanders and platoon leaders can all make promises. Most promises are in good faith. It still pays to get agreements in writing. Paperwork can easily get lost in the military. Getting an agreement in writing is the best way to ensure something actually happens.
This last bit of advice is something that all recruiters should tell newly enlisted soldiers. It is absolutely vital that soldiers make 10 copies of all important documents. Orders, agreements and training completion papers should all be readily available. A binder or folder is a great way to keep everything organized. This can make life so much easier. The Army is famous for loosing paperwork. This little detail can help to save a lot of heartache.