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Old January 31st, 2013, 08:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thinking about joining army

Over the past year, i have been debating whether or not to join the military. The primary benefit is money + college. Other reasons for me to join is to get in shape and lose weight, and to feel more valuable, both valuing myself and valued by society. The main reason i have not joined is lack of privacy and being around groups of people.

My brother is in the Army and served in Afghanistan last year. He came back with a lot of money and is enrolled in college which the Army is paying for. He is in shape, and doing great.

I currently have nothing me holding me down. No wife or girlfriend, no kids, no friends. No bills aside from car insurance and cell phone.

To Join:
Im currently a truck driver. Although i do not hate my job, i dont want this to be my carrier. I dont want to spend all my hard earned money to pay for college. As long as the Army would aid me in paying for college, i would definitely consider it. I want to go to college for computer science. Either game development or electronics engineering.

Another reason to join is forced exercise. Since i started truck driving over 2 years ago, i have gained approximately 50 pounds. The only exercise i get is turning the steering wheel and cranking the landing gear on the trailer. I want to be able to run for miles. I can hardly run 500 feet right now.

My last main reason to join is to feel more valuable. Right now i am just a truck driver. A lot of people hate trucks and truck drivers, and we are viewed as being fat, lazy, and stupid. I am overweight but certainly not "fat". I dont consider myself lazy, but i lack motivation for sure. And i am far from stupid. I want to feel good about myself, and do something more with my life.

Not to Join:
The reasons i have not joined yet are mostly privacy issues. I dont want to sleep with a bunch of people, and certainly dont want to shower with them. Sharing a room is perfectly fine. But being naked with other people will bother me greatly.

The other reason i dont want to join is social anxiety. I get nervous when im in or near a group of people, especially if they are watching me do something. For example, two people are chosen to demonstrate a hand-to-hand combat move in front of everyone else. I hate this.

Of course an obvious reason would be fear of failure. If i couldnt handle the training (which im sure i can) then it would be embarrassing, and i would feel shameful and weak.

The end
I would like to know if any of you have served in the military. Especially the Army, since thats what i would be joining. What is it like? Based one what ive mentioned above, would i hate it? Is there any privacy during sleep or hygiene management/showering? Whats the group-size that i would have to perform anything physical in front of? What will i have to do as a final test to pass army training?

I appreciate any replies, including your experiences!

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Old January 31st, 2013, 09:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I served 8 years in the Marine Corps and that was the best time of my life. I've been to 12 different countries and had the opportunity to meet new friends that I will never forgot. If I were you I'd look into the Air Force because their living standards are much better then the Army/Marine Corps. Take advantage of their free schooling and try to get your bachelors if you can. Also, once you get out you can use the Post 9/11 G.I. bill (for school or law enforcement academies) and the Veterans home loan (which is great). I bought my home (3 br, loft, 2 1/2 bathroom, family room, loving room, 2200 sq ft on a cul-da- sac, rv parking with an in ground pool and spa) back in 2009 and paid $450 out of my pocket to get it. The VA home loan takes care of everything else but only if you have the credit score and most importantly an honorable discharge. Whatever you decide I wish you the best!

Update: I cannot speak on the Army but the Marine Corps privacy doesn't exist while going through boot camp. The toilets were next to each other with no dividers and showers were taken with a large group. This is pretty much standard until you get to your schooling for the job you picked. Once you get to your unit it should get better because you'll meet people and have a tad more freedom. Just remember, the more rank you get the better it becomes.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 09:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I joined the Army when I was 17. You have all the right reasons for wanting to join and all the fears I did about privacy. I'd like to say trust me, but that isn't fair. So I'll say this, you don't notice, as you don't have time, that you are showering with a bunch of other naked guys.

Now, when I joined some 20 years ago basic training was the best time of my life. I played with toys I'll never be able to play with again. Who get's to blow off claymore mines? Seriously.

Now I see the stuff that the troops play with now, WOW. They are playing with way cooler stuff than I did.

OK, OK, all that being said, here is the reality. I loved every minute I was there. But your state of mind will be your best friend. The Drill Sergeants can only push you to muscle failure. Aside from that, no biggie. You will march for miles & miles & miles all of it with a bunch of weight on your back. Even at that age, as an all star high school soccer player did I think I could do the stuff I did in basic, no. You, and your platoon & company, are in it together.

So, you decide if its right for you.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 09:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Another Veteran here... I say do it. I think one of the most respectable things a person can do is sacrifice a few years of their life for service to their country. You will get great personal benefits, both physically and financially. Plus, who knows you may like it and want to make it a career.
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Old January 31st, 2013, 11:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I did 21 years in the Navy.

As previously mentioned, you will be kept very busy and will likely be so tired that you will hardly notice the lack of privacy.

Promotion has classically been better in the Navy; that is, if you are intelligent and pick a decent rating.

In terms of ease of basic training, I'd rank Marine Corps the toughest, followed by Army, Navy, and then Air Force.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Another thing to consider about serving is post service respect. Self respect, certainly, but peer respect. The military is not a cake walk and everyone respects (or should respect) those that have given their time in serving their country. And don't think it ends there. It bodes well for you when seeking employment. An employer will always look favorably upon a service man/woman knowing they are motivated and have self respect and discipline. Good luck to you and your choice.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 01:16 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hey there. I served in the US Army for 6 years. It was the best thing I did. Totally changed my life.

Go for it.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 06:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'd like to preface this by saying I admire people in the military and do appreciate their sacrifice, however as a non-military type, I have to say the thing that surprises me most about the comments so far is how no-one has mentioned the rather high chance of getting SHOT or BLOWN UP!

OK, the war in Iraq is effectively over and Afghanistan might be about over before a new recruit is ready to go out there, but the whole armed-people-trying-kill-you thing should at least be a consideration.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 06:59 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olbriar View Post
Another thing to consider about serving is post service respect. Self respect, certainly, but peer respect. The military is not a cake walk and everyone respects (or should respect) those that have given their time in serving their country. And don't think it ends there. It bodes well for you when seeking employment. An employer will always look favorably upon a service man/woman knowing they are motivated and have self respect and discipline. Good luck to you and your choice.
I second that. I have little input with my supervisors on hiring decisions, but I can assert that the majority of people in my shop are former military-- they have a certain mind-set that enables the team to work well together and our shop consistently outperforms its sister-shop, which does not have very many military people-- our people take ownership of their equipment, they work together, and work toward a goal of the common good of the company and the shop whereas those other people are only looking out for their own interests and don't seem to care about any kind of community.

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Originally Posted by SiempreTuna View Post
I'd like to preface this by saying I admire people in the military and do appreciate their sacrifice, however as a non-military type, I have to say the thing that surprises me most about the comments so far is how no-one has mentioned the rather high chance of getting SHOT or BLOWN UP!

OK, the war in Iraq is effectively over and Afghanistan might be about over before a new recruit is ready to go out there, but the whole armed-people-trying-kill-you thing should at least be a consideration.
This is a very serious point. The military services is a very dangerous area, both mentally and physically. I personally prefer my sons and daughters not to join the ground-forces for this very reason, though I must admit that my time in the Navy was not all primrose paths, either-- I spent my share of time walking around a chunk of desert, weighed down with armor and carrying loaded weapons, waiting for attack; and I worked in essentially an industrial area, where there were several different ways for an inattentive person to get themselves mangled, maimed or outright killed-- it used to be a rare cruise where we returned with all hands intact.

However, the dangers are often left unregarded by reckless youth, who charge in, confident in their immortality.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 07:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm currently in the army and have been for 10 years now. Everyone's military experience differs depending on themselves ,where they end up going, what their job is , etc etc. I will say I've had some amazing life experiences from serving. Feel free to pm me with any questions you have ! Good luck to you !
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Old February 1st, 2013, 07:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Like many posting here, I was in but I did it wrong, in retrospect. I planned nothing. I just went with the flow of my orders and made no effort to plan a transition from military life to civilian life.

My son, on the other hand, is doing it right. I feel that anybody planning a military stint should view it as a portion of their service to their country, but also as preparing themselves to be of value to their country once back out of uniform. There are many ways to do that. My kid did his tours in two wars, then began college courses once back Stateside. He also put in for a change of m.o.s. which will fit nicely on his resume as he moves in the direction of his discharge in a few years (he's doing a 20 year Army career which began in 2000).

I'm so proud of him. I hope new recruits, whether joining up or if the draft comes back, do it with their whole life in mind, even if it is a short stint in the military.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 09:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Join Airforce if you can. keep in mind that you might end up on pain killers for the rest of the days because of all the excessive work outs. If you have issues with people telling you what to do all the time, army is not for you.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 02:37 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I personally wouldn't join the army. Fighting rich peoples problems for oil and minerals for a miniscule wage compared to what they'll be profiting from their "war on terror", plus the high possibility of getting your head blown off, or losing some limbs, sounds like a shit job to me.

Each to their own though. Good luck if you go.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 03:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I didnt graduate from high school. I got my GED a few years later. From what i understand, to join the Air Force, i will have to do some schooling to make up for it, and i will be on a waiting list, as actual high school graduates will have seniority over me.

Im not really sure what positions are available for new Army infantry, but i would like to be a sniper of some sort. I dont know how long it would take to earn a given position, or if i get to choose what i do. If i join the Army, do i do the job i am told? For example, can i be told that i am a humvee driver for a year, is that how it works? Or can i choose to be a sniper, and work my way up through training?

As far as getting shot or dying, its honestly not my biggest concern. I understand death. We will all die, and i accept it. But what i do fear is being captured and tortured, and locked in a cell for x number of years.

Ive been driving and living in this truck for over 2 years. Im ready for something new. I dont want to be a truck driver all my life, and unless i go to college, theres not much else for me. Im hoping the Army will open more opportunities for the long run.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:11 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Not a veteran myself, but my husband is. He served in the Air Force during Vietnam, and aside from the injury that left him rated 40% disabled, he loved it! My best friend is a retired Marine, rated 100% disabled (wanted to be a career Marine but, you know, shit happens), and she just can't say enough about how much she loves the Corps. Her daughter is a fifth-generation Marine; her son-in-law is a Marine--they each served one tour of duty in Afghanistan and came home safely. Her son was in the Army, spent a year in Iraq, came home safe and sound, and then died of a previously undiagnosed heart ailment almost two years ago at 25. Go figure.

The privacy issues are something you basically can't get around, but as others have said you're probably going to be too busy/tired to care. My best personal analogy is this: I used to dance ballet, and after prolonged breaks for various reasons (childbirth, illness), when I'd go back to taking classes I thought everybody would be staring at my no-longer-stick-thin body. Guess what? No one cared. In ballet classes, you're so focused on watching your technique in the mirror, the last thing you do is gawk at other students. I think it's much the same in the military--you'll all be tired, and busy, and thinking about other stuff, and no one's going to gape at you while you're showering or pooping.

My husband's VA loan gave us the ability to buy a house with no down payment.

My best friend's daughter, who did not re-enlist this last time, is now going to college and it's all paid for.

Plus there's lifelong health care at the VA if you should ever need it once you're a civilian again, like if you can't afford health insurance.

I agree with other comments that there's a certain respect you'll get after having served in the military (assuming you're honorably discharged, of course).

It's no piece of cake, but I think it's a very good life choice.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 04:28 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omar Days View Post
I personally wouldn't join the army. Fighting rich peoples problems for oil and minerals for a miniscule wage compared to what they'll be profiting from their "war on terror", plus the high possibility of getting your head blown off, or losing some limbs, sounds like a shit job to me.

Each to their own though. Good luck if you go.
Well unless you are one of those richies, you are going to have to work for them anyway. If you sign a contract for a year or so, you can make a good chunk of money for a house down payment for example. Possibility of your head being blown off is very little, I'm sure you can find some statistics online. I think you have greater chance of injuring yourself working at the constriction site.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 09:00 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by javasirc View Post
I didnt graduate from high school. I got my GED a few years later. From what i understand, to join the Air Force, i will have to do some schooling to make up for it, and i will be on a waiting list, as actual high school graduates will have seniority over me.

Im not really sure what positions are available for new Army infantry, but i would like to be a sniper of some sort. I dont know how long it would take to earn a given position, or if i get to choose what i do. If i join the Army, do i do the job i am told? For example, can i be told that i am a humvee driver for a year, is that how it works? Or can i choose to be a sniper, and work my way up through training?

As far as getting shot or dying, its honestly not my biggest concern. I understand death. We will all die, and i accept it. But what i do fear is being captured and tortured, and locked in a cell for x number of years.

Ive been driving and living in this truck for over 2 years. Im ready for something new. I dont want to be a truck driver all my life, and unless i go to college, theres not much else for me. Im hoping the Army will open more opportunities for the long run.
Maybe some of the Army vets can give you a little better advice, but here's what I can tell you:

First, you will take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which is a test that will determine what skill-sets and aptitudes you possess. This is the same test for all of them. Most local libraries will have a study guide or two that you can go through before you take the ASVAB.

If you get a good score on the ASVAB, then you will have a better choice of vocation (Military Occupational Specialty or MOS for the Army). Your MOS determines your career path.

Do not sign up without an MOS guarantee in the contract! If you go undesignated, you will go straight to hell with little or no chance of redemption.

I would think that sniper would be one of those special-forces occupations which would require you to compete or apply for once you are in, but I could be mistaken.

Remember, if it is not written into the contract, it is a lie! I cannot stress that enough.
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Old February 1st, 2013, 09:20 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I must be really old because I've been using communal showers ever since I swam at the local park district pool. I can understand how "late bloomers" might not want to bee seen naked during those awkward adolescent years. But I'd think most people would have gotten over that by the time they're old enough to go to war.

Personally I'd much more concerned over getting bit by a bullet than risking someone making fun of my junk.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 11:47 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Not being able to run 500 feet will keep you from joining now. Start hitting the pavement.

I spent five years in the Corps. In my travels also spend a few months over at Sand Hill on Fort Benning offering up my experience to the Army dogs. Army training barracks are way nicer than the Marines. I hate to discourage you but I think you're wanting to join for all the wrong reasons.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 12:58 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Former 13F for 25 infantry here.

1. Forced exercise. If you do not exercise now you will hate it but eventually get used to it. You do have to have minimums in physical fitness to join, not sure what they are anymore.

2. College money. You will get tuition reimbursement while on active duty then you have 10 years to use your earned benefits (GI Bill, free tuition at state schools, etc) after separation. Not all states offer free tuition at state schools.

Life in the military can be rough: I think we technically worked 10-12 hour days but you get long breaks. PT starts around 5am lasts for 60-90 min then you get 90 min or so to shower and eat breakfast. 2 hour lunch also.

I guarantee you at least 1 'emergency' deployment every year or two for readiness, kinda throws your personal life out of whack.

**Recruiters are notorious for lying about how tough many MOS are**


This being said, you miss the military a bit after separation.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 01:26 PM   #21 (permalink)
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do not join army!
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Old February 4th, 2013, 01:37 PM   #22 (permalink)
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do not join army!
Why?!
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Old February 4th, 2013, 05:54 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Just work and go to college or some school!

If he goes there.. he's going to end up somewhere in Afghanistan.. or else where. He might get some money and free education but he can also lose something... something he's goiing to have to live without for the rest of his life.

Don't listen to anybody! They say it's a very hard work out there.. But it ain't easy home also... then why risk your life if it's hard on both sides.. But here you've got friends,girlfriends,family and lots of opportunities to make your life the way you want, unlike there//
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Old February 4th, 2013, 06:48 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Don't listen to anybody!
Almost the only sensible thing he has said so far...
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Old February 4th, 2013, 06:55 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Let's stay on topic here and share our experiences with military service so the OP can make this very important decision with as much constructive feedback as possible.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 07:00 PM   #26 (permalink)
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I don't mean to sound elitist, but IME the thing that kept me out of military service was the fact that all of my family members from my parents' generation served as commissioned officers. Also, all of my family members from that generation, plus all of their sons and daughters had masters level college degrees.

Before I entered high school, I wanted to be an airline pilot, and noticed that most of the airlines at the time were hiring military aviators. So my plan was to apply for the Air Force Academy and become commissioned into the Air Force. In the meantime I joined the Civil Air Patrol when I became old enough, and spent many of my evenings drilling in dark parking lots and not much more. (Our CAP unit sucked.)

At that time we were winding down the Vietnam War, which was (and still is) considered by most to be the final word on how to do everything wrong. The prevailing attitude at the time was that the US had learned its lesson, and wouldn't go lightly into war in my lifetime, so that wasn't a consideration for many. Also, the then-mew and scary draft registration laws that was threatening 18-year-olds with hard prison time if they didn't register for the draft "just so" wasn't winning much support for the military. I had a friend who had a brief fling with the idea of enlisting, but because I was already the black sheep of the family, I wasn't going to be the first enlisted man in the family. That's how it went, right, wrong or otherwise.

By the time I got into high school, I discovered that I lacked the will to keep my grades artificially high to give me that shot for the Academy, and by the time I graduated, I was ready for a break from structured education. When I did enter college, I found out from my ROTC friends that I wouldn't be let near the flight controls of a military plane unless I has a degree in mechanical or mechanical-aerospace engineering. As an electrical engineering major, I might qualify as a "back seater" but not an actual pilot. That ended all hope for my military career.

I have cousins who joined the Army (one joined the Navy) mainly for the financial benefits. They all fulfilled their first enlistment contract and quit the military for good. None of them saw action, and didn't use their cash bonuses for higher education. I don't much care for the ignorant jingoism that they didn't have before enlistment. It looks to me like they got more of an indoctrination than an education.

Since you have money already, my advice is to use it to get yourself a good education. That way you're not going to have any problems with your personal concerns about communal living, and you won't have to worry about strings attached, or budget cuts that may remove the benefits that you want. The post Cold War "peace dividend" cut salaries and benefits for those who served, while increasing spending on materiel. IJS.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 07:35 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Im ready for a change. Im tired of driving this truck 60 hours a week. Not tired of working a lot... just tired of driving all day every day. Its so boring and unhealthy. Theres not much of a lively future in it. Sure i can be financially free. Save up a lot of money and retire. But wheres the life? I can be a truck driver all my life. Be 350 pounds by 40. Make $15-20 an hour until im 65. Then be some fat guy that sits on the couch and watches TV.

Or i can spend all the money ive earned in the last 2 years on college. Probably graduate, then work 9-5/40 hr weeks. I can earn a lot more money. Be a bit happier. Unfortunately i dont have the slightest of a social life. Never have. Waking up and driving to work every morning is something i hate. 9-5 based lifestyle makes me depressed. Even when i go home to visit, i get depressed.

Joining the Army is something i may never get to do if i dont do it soon. The thing i like most about truck driving is that its a lifestyle + a job. There is no wake up and drive to work. Cant wait til my 8 hours is up so i can go home. Its wake up, and im at work. Work until im done. Is the army like this too? I wake up and get to work? This is the type of lifestyle i like.

I hate the ordinary 40 hour week lifestyle. I dont go out at all. If im not working, im sitting around waiting for the next day. Before i started truck driving, life was very depressing. But the lifestyle is decent, aside from being so unhealthy.

There are plenty of reasons to join the Army:
Money and college funds.
Fitness and health.
Having the feeling of accomplishment, and valuing myself.
Being respected by others.
Being able to say i served my country, and being a veteran.
Not working a 40 hour week lifestyle.
Firearms training and being able to shoot weapons.

My life needs changed. If i dont join the military this year, ill probably end up driving the truck for the next year. I cant see myself going to college without financial aid. It just costs too much. Im not worried about losing a year or 2 out of my life. After a few months of truck driving, i felt like my life was on hold. And i still do. My life is literally "Wake up. Wash my face. Drive. Fuel. Drive. Park. Browse the forums and youtube. Sleep." With load/unload trailer in there somewhere. This is my every day life. Its not much of a life. By joining the Army, id be gaining livelihood. Unless i physically lose my life of course, but i dont want to go there.
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Old February 4th, 2013, 07:55 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by javasirc View Post
Joining the Army is something i may never get to do if i dont do it soon. The thing i like most about truck driving is that its a lifestyle + a job. There is no wake up and drive to work. Cant wait til my 8 hours is up so i can go home. Its wake up, and im at work. Work until im done. Is the army like this too? I wake up and get to work? This is the type of lifestyle i like.
I did the reserves, so I'm not sure about active duty beyond basic training and AIT. But that is what Basic is like. It's zero dark thirty until 10PM every day. You get a few hours off on Sunday which feels like an eternity.

You are marching somewhere or drilling something or doing PMCS or cleaning or polishing. But there is a competitive vibe about it. Who has the shiniest boots, who's wall locker is neatest, who's bunk is made the best. Pulling fire duty at 3:00 AM in the barracks and having an hour or two to quietly chit chat with a person you would never have talked to in the civilian world because they weren't like you, only to find out you have more in common than you though.

Getting a chance to hit the barracks for twenty minutes and being able to nap for 18 minutes without scuffing your boots or wrinkling your bunk.

Yeah, all that sound daunting, but as I said in my earlier post, I enjoyed it and look back fondly on it.
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