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First steps in joining the military

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So you are considering joining the United States military. Congratulations! You are taking a big step toward your future by considering the United States armed forces, which is comprised of various branches, including the Air Force, the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Coast Guard and the Reserves. But before you take the plunge into the military, there are a few things to remember:

  • First, make sure you have all of the appropriate paperwork to enlist. This includes your birth certificate, your social security card, your high school diplomas, your college diploma (if applicable). College credit often allows the applicant to go into the military as an officer, or with a higher ranking.
  • Study for the ASVAB. The ASVAB is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and is a multiple choice test that will help you and your recruiter decide where your services would best fit within the military. You can buy a book online or check one out at the library to study for it. Some of the most difficult jobs within the military require a very high ASVAB score, so study hard!
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your recruiter is there to help you as you begin your entrance into the military. But you must have plenty of questions, including what jobs are available, where you will be stationed, whether you want a four or a six year commitment, and the benefits within the military. Write a list to take with you to the recruiting office.
  • Take a look at the various branches. Each offer unique opportunities to see the world and learn a new skill (or several!), so be careful in your research.
  • Start getting in shape. It is very important that all applicants are in the best physical shape they can be before joining the military and heading to boot camp or basic training. Check out each branch's physical fitness requirements for your goals.
  • Remember to consider the commitment you are making. The military is not just a job; it's a lifestyle. You cannot just quit your service like any other job. You will often have to go through inconvenient and sometimes very dangerous situations, including deployment and off-site training that can take you away from your family for weeks or months at a time. This is a big commitment, so make sure you have thought it through before joining.
  • If you decide to join, read the contract very carefully. If you are promised something, such as a job (MOS) or a higher ranking, be sure it is written in the contract.

There are a lot of scary things about joining the military, but there are also lots of great things that come with it. Military service members are part of an elite team of patriotic servicemen and women that are dedicated to protecting and advancing our country in both safety and global position. While it is a big decision, the military can offer great opportunities and a stable community to enjoy.

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