I joined the Air Force when I was 18 years old and served 20 active duty years (73-93) and then retired. I gave-up my most productive years that I could have used as a civilian doing something else. When you first join the military, it is a life style changing event . When you take your oath, you promise…
The Oath for Enlisted: **
The Oath of Enlistment for enlisted:
*“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
**The Oath for Officers: **
*“I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the _____ (Military Branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” *
When you take the oath, you are agreeing to a contract with the military and the military takes that contract and oath very seriously when you agree to it.
The lifestyle is regimented and covered by many regulations and operating procedures. In other words, procedure, procedure and more procedure drives the military way. Team work is essential…period!
When you join the military, you are subject to the whim of the military. In other words…“How high do you want me to jump sir?” The military own you!
All that said…
If you plan to join the military to make it a career; great! However, be advised you really will not know if it’s a good career path until you actually join and experience it. As for an active duty career choice it can be a hard road to travel each and every day. For the Reserves and Guard, I suspect it would be easier to hang in there until you have enough time (credits) to qualify for retirement because you serve part time and not every single day for 20 years. Joining the Reserve or Guard will take you far longer to equal 20 years of active duty military and you don’t draw your retirement money immediately once you finish your time.
Bottom line, military life is not easy, but as time progresses you do get use to the regimentation; it becomes “normal”. After 20 years of active duty, the transition to civilian life again has its problems. Because at this point, living so long in a regimented environment you have have become "institutionalized.
I have been retired for 19 1/2 years now and do cherish those assignments I had and the people I worked with; good memories and bad. Served all my time during the Cold War, while Reagan had two terms as President and as my Command-in-Chief; the best! In a nutshell, most of my career had to do with implementing Emergency War Orders (EWO) which required a Top Secret security clearance with special access to very sensitive material. Made sure conventional and nuclear assets were off and running, heading to target(s). I was proud of what I did and accomplished. I love my nation and this is why I’m fighting for it again with the written word of truth and an occasional donation.
You heard from an old school guy. Ask a modern day recruiter about the military; certainly many changes have come down “the pike” since my day.