The benefits of joining the military are many. There are many intangibles like the instillment of strong values, selfless service, and loyalty. Military service results in the acquisition of a number of skills, training, and experiences that help service members throughout life.
1. Intangible Benefits
Military service teaches and cultivates leadership skills. Some of the benefits of joining the military are that individuals learn to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. They make sound and timely decisions and have no problem setting an example.
Veterans of military service can easily understand and accomplish assigned tasks. They are dependable and cultivate abilities to meet a variety of challenges by being disciplined.
Some additional intangible benefits of joining the military are that military service can result in personal growth and positive emotional experiences, such as enhanced maturity, self-improvement, knowing oneself better (e.g., strengths, capabilities, areas for improvement), strengthening of resiliency, positive transformations following trauma or situations of extreme stress, improved coping skills, pride (e.g., in self, unit), enhanced interpersonal skills and relationships, and improved teamwork capacity.
2. Tangible Benefits
Some of the more popular tangible benefits of joining the military include 30 days of paid annual vacation. It’s important to note that just because your recruiter tells you that you are eligible for 30 days of leave, does not necessarily mean that you will get the chance to take 30 days of leave per year. The mission and needs of the service branch always come first, so if duty calls, then your leave will be placed on the backburner.
For those who are currently working several side hustles or gigs to make ends meet, one of the benefits of joining the military is a steady paycheck. One week you might work pretty lightly, and the following week might be horrifically busy. Much depends on your military occupational specialty (MOS) and your duty station.
Whether you work hard or are hardly working, those paychecks will keep coming in. And if you enlist for an in-demand MOS, you might get a bonus. Add to that, an attractive Thrift Savings Plan as a way to save extra for retirement and the steady financial pay and perks are great benefits of joining the military. Did we mention that if you come in right after high school and you serve for 20 years, you can retire at a young age, like 38, and start another entire career? Oh yeah, and you will receive a pension upon retirement; cha-ching!
Along those lines, one of the other major tangible benefits of joining the military is the health and dental insurance. This is a valuable benefit especially for those with a family. Add to that, the U.S. military offers low-cost life insurance for service members and educational benefits that can be used while you’re on active duty. If you opt to leave active duty, ensure you take advantage of your GI Bill benefits which differ depending on when you joined, and when you served.
One of the big benefits of joining the military is that you can serve either full-time on active duty, or part-time in the reserve or National Guard. The Army and Air Force have National Guard components and the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps have reserve components as well. The National Guard and reserve components also offer AGR, or active Guard and Reserve billets that are active duty positions supporting the reserve and National Guard components.
Whether you are choosing to serve on active duty or in the reserve or Guard components, you will have access to educational benefits, health and dental benefits, insurance and of course pay that is commensurate with your duty status.
Some of the not-so-known-about benefits of joining the military is the use of post exchanges which offers goods at a tax-free rate. Products are sometimes sold at lower prices than on the civilian economy.
Veterans are also entitled to VA Home Loans which offer special financing opportunities for those who’ve served. One of the great benefits of joining the military is Space A travel which enables military personnel to travel anywhere in the world on a military aircraft. The process can be cumbersome.
Travelers have to put their names on a list for a particular flight, then depending on their category of travel they are prioritized on the flight. There is a very small fee, and of course there are no comforts onboard, but if you are looking to save money and do some traveling, this is a greatly underused benefit.
However, travelers be warned. Aircraft break down and sometimes you can also spend days waiting on a flight only to be left behind. And a seven-hour flight to a particular destination might take you two to three days because the aircraft’s mission has it transiting through different stops with layovers that can be hours, days, or weeks long. Imagine landing in a place like Korea and then not having accommodations for two days and your final stop is Japan? What do you do?
3. Lifelong Memories
Military service is an extraordinarily unique experience. There is nothing in the civilian world quite like it, so serving exposes you to a plethora of experiences and relationships that cannot happen anywhere else.
Where else would you and others help each other through an exhausting obstacle course? If it wasn’t for military service, how else would you know what it is like to build an ice shelter with you and your teammates so you do not freeze at night during an exercise?
Do most civilians know what it is like to spend weeks under water in a submarine? Does your civilian neighbor know what it is like to freefall from a C-130? Or to drive a tank? The service is a great place to experience many unique things and that is one of the many benefits of joining the military.