Letter Re: Preparedness Advice for a Law School Student

I am a law student in Oklahoma.The recent ice storm really opened my eyes. I lost power for a week in freezing temperatures (as did many thousands across Oklahoma) I had no fuel in my car (a Ford Focus) and no food. It really opened my eyes. I am currently heavily in debt and have little extra funds but would like to start getting prepared. I have a dog (a Welsh Corgi) and a cat.

My girlfriend thinks I have gone insane and does not like to talk about things like this. I live in a rented house in mid-town a mile from the University. I have made a few modest preparations (such as beginning to store tap water in two liter bottles with a few drops of bleach, and having about a weeks worth of food in my pantry.)

I own a .357 handgun with only a box of ammo. I am fairly proficient with it.

I am new to this survival concept due to growing up in a very large city in Texas. I have been browsing your site now for a few weeks and was wondering if you would be willing to offer any situation-specific advice for someone like me. Thank You Very Much, – A.M. in Oklahoma

JWR Replies: Here are my recommendations:
1.) Recognize that you can only “do what you can do” with the scant funds that you have available as a student. Make some modest preps like water and food storage, and a few more boxes of ammo for your revolver. The rest will likely have to wait until after you have graduated. The good news is that attorneys have above-average earnings, so you will soon make rapid progress on your preparations. Just hope and pray that the economy holds together long enough for that. You might want to consider real estate and tenant law as your initial legal specialty. That should be a busy field for the next decade, as the real estate bust continues.

2.) Network with like-minded friends and church members. Hopefully you can find an existing retreat group. Do a search in SurvivalBlog’s search window (at the top of the right hand bar) on the word “matchmaking”. Those articles will give you some good pointers on networking. At your stage in life, networking will provide you with the best chance of pulling through a worst case situation such as a societal collapse.

3.) Prioritize. Thankfully, living in a rented house means that you have more storage space available than the average college student. But make the best of it by prioritizing your purchases.

4.) Be blunt with your girlfriend. Tell her that today’s world is replete with substantial risks including terrorism, severe weather (including ice storms and tornados) and economic instability, so preparing is rational. If she can’t accept that there is are genuine risks these days, then you might consider courting another young lady that is more realistic and down to earth. Arnie (now the Governator) said it best: “Come with me if you want to live.”

5.) I realize that law school is very demanding of your time. However, once time allows get plenty of training on first aid, self defense, amateur radio, food storage, gardening, home canning, and so forth. (See the SurvivalBlog archives for specific recommendations.) With your limited time, it might be appropriate to first select training that would fill a specific need for your survival group.

6.) If you have trouble finding a position at a law firm immediately after graduation, then consider applying for a direct commission an an Army JAG officer. (Life as JAG lieutenant is not very glamorous–you since you will mainly be writing wills–but it is a guaranteed salary, even in an economic depression. In such times, that kind of job security is important for someone that has a lot of student loans.) IIRC, to qualify, you must be under 32 years old at the time of appointment–perhaps a bit older with a waiver.) One way to be almost assured getting an appointment by the Direct Commissioning Board is to have a sufficient number of Army “contact hours” before you complete your Juris Doctor graduate degree. So talk to your university’s Army ROTC department. With the approval of the Professor of Military Science (PMS), a graduate student can get a slot for the five week long ROTC Basic Camp (normally for undergrads). It is held each summer at Fort Knox, Kentucky. There is no contractual obligation for attending the camp, and you will get a lot of training that is quite applicable to individual preparedness. This includes NBC defense, marksmanship, first aid, communications, map reading, land navigation, and small unit tactics. Even if you never apply for a direct commission, you will find the training invaluable.Having that training will also make you more desirable to retreat groups that are looking for members.