Letter Re: Advice on U.S. Military Service

Greetings Mr. Rawles and thank you for your service to this great country.  

I would like to commend you on your knowledge, mindset, and ability to create a web site where we all can come together as like-minded individuals and expand our relative knowledge of survival during these harsh social times in this place we call, and will fight for, home.  

I am currently 28 years old, and I have a strong urge to do whatever it takes to prepare for the unknown, to protect my wife and I against anything that rears its ugly head, and most of all survive.  I have been aware of your site for quite some time now thanks to my father, but I have only been an avid reader for the last 6 months due to the current state in this country.  I have limited knowledge in survival and general preparedness and I am trying to increase my level everyday.  

My work colleague and I were discussing the military reserves the other day and I started to really think about it.  I have always had the patriotism and urge to fight for my country, but never made it a priority.  Especially now that I have a very stable and well paying job, wife, planning to have a baby, house, dog, etc., it is more difficult to pack up and leave.  My life is really great and I couldn’t accept anything else.  

With all the added bonuses of military benefits, and supplementary pay for the reserves, I can’t help but push this aside.  Of course the training and experience that ensues is really starting to weigh itself in my mind a lot.  As a beginner prepper and future survivalist of the apocalypse  assuming I will need to use these skills in the near future, the military training and experience is something that I would consider a huge push for my future survival.  Yes I could remain in the civilian sector and take numerous training and survival classes, but at the expense of my own wallet as these kind of training courses are very expensive. 

With that said and the current state of our country, our personal liberties and freedoms are being thrown out the window, and our constitution and bill of rights being trampled, a piece of me would like to halt my decision of military involvement.  I can’t help but think that, if our politicians continue along the path they are currently on, I might end up on the top of some anti-veteran list that would consider me a home-grown terrorist and my rights, liberties and freedoms are now out the window because of some UN-siding dictator.

Given your background in the military, and eye into the current situations in our country, would military involvement be a good strategy for the survival and protection of my family? – Steve in Washington

JWR Replies: I do still recommend military service. My background was in the Army, so I will only address that. Your mileage may vary with the other services.

The training for the Reserves, National Guard and Active component are just about identical. So your choice of component can be based upon how many years you want to devote to the military.

Given your age, the clock is ticking if you do want to join.  Generally, the door closes at age 31, except for JAG officers and a few rare waivers.  If you have a college degree, then I think that you should apply for a Direct Commission. This is a little-known but amazing opportunity. It is mostly for Medical Service, Chaplains, and JAG officers, but in the Army Reserve, direct commissions are sometimes available for other branches. Someone with a Police Science degree, for example, is a good candidate for a direct commission as a Military Police officer.

Since it appears that the GWOT will grind on endlessly, I recommend that you pick a branch that is least likely to get you repeated overseas deployments. So avoid the Combat Arms branches, except perhaps for Air Defense Artillery.  With the Combat Support and Combat Service Support branches, you’ll ge a lot of the same great training, but much less likelihood of deployments. And working in the support branches, there is a higher correlation for equivalent civilian careers. So it is generally more useful for your resume. (I’m not denigrating the Combat Arms–they have my utmost respect–but there not a lot of civilian jobs for trigger pullers and cannon cockers.)

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