Thousands of young men and women in the United States have benefited from military service as a path to social and economic mobility. In addition to seeing the world, serving in the military can teach you skills you can apply in the civilian world. The benefits of joining the military after high school would help enlistees avoid the cost of attending college or purchasing a home. Veterans who forgo college can also expect to earn a better wage than nonveterans. The responsibility, discipline, and focus you learn in the military can last a lifetime.
Benefits of Enlisting in the Armed Forces
Due to rising college costs, many students consider joining the armed forces for post-secondary education. Furthermore, they learn that enlisting in the military makes it easier to achieve lifelong goals.
The aging process from adolescence to adulthood occurs most dramatically between 18 and 29 years of age, according to psychologist Jeffrey Arnett’s book, “Emerging Adults in America: Coming of Age in the 21st Century.” People struggle to find their identity and where they belong in a complex society. College students drop out of college almost half the time before they get a degree, and those who earn degrees spend an average of more than four years studying.
According to Jordan Weissman of The Atlantic, a significant reason for dropout rates is that not every student is prepared. There are a variety of factors that affect dropout rates. Many don’t know what they want to do in college or how they will spend their time there.
Serving in the military provides much military personnel with this combination of independence and support that they need to succeed as adults.
Serving the Country
A Gallup poll consistently found that Americans have the most confidence in the military over organized religion, the medical system, and banks. According to this survey, respondents had roughly ten times more confidence in the armed services than in big business or Congress.
However, joining the military is seldom an act of glory. The Federalist quoted Marine officer Stanton Coerr, who served in Iraq, saying, “Nobody is in the military against his or her will.”
The service of a veteran in war is important not because it makes us special but precisely because it does not. “We volunteered, went, and did what was asked of us.” In other words: Duty is a powerful incentive for military service.
Attending College Without Crushing Debt
Many high school graduates have been forced to consider alternative career paths due to the high cost of a college education. During the 2020-2021 academic year, US News reported that four-year private colleges charged students an average annual tuition and fees bill of over $40,000. Over four years, this amounts to more than $160,000, not including living expenses, board, and electronics. Even though many students seek merit- and need-based aid, these typically amount to only a few thousand dollars a year.
A recent study from Experian shows the average college graduate left college with more than $35,000 in student loan debt. The increase over the previous five-year period is more than 25%.
Student loan debt is associated with significant lifetime consequences, delaying home ownership, marriage, and childbearing. Graduates often work longer hours, take second jobs, or accept jobs outside their field of interest to repay their education debt.
Students who enter the military are not prohibited from pursuing a college degree. Still, they are deferred from college entry and provided significant financial benefits while serving in the military and afterward. The Defense Department offers tuition assistance to all active-duty and reserve military members. No loan is involved in this assistance, but it is considered basic pay, covering up to $4,500 in tuition and fees a year.
Additionally, members of the military or veterans can receive financial assistance for tuition, fees, books, supplies, and housing for up to 36 months under the Post-9/11 GI Bill or the Montgomery GI Bill. For 36 months of participation, service members are allowed to receive $2,050 (plus an annual increase) per month from the Montgomery Bill. The Montgomery Bill requires that service members contribute $100 per month during their first 12 months on active duty.
Receiving Valuable Training in Different Fields
Every branch of the United States military – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard – offers training programs that give you a competitive advantage as a civilian. Arts and photography are among the career paths that ex-soldiers can pursue, as well as news and media, aviation, engineering, health care, human resources, and meteorology, to name just a few.
Enlistees can receive college credit for the training and experience they gain throughout their service commitment. Thousands of colleges and universities accept these credits. In addition, they can obtain professional and technical training in electrical work, software engineering, and many other jobs that require licensing or credentials as part of a civilian career.
The following are some of the reasons why employers value job candidates with military experience in addition to their expertise:
- Leadership and Teamwork Skills: Veterans have typically established a good reputation for leading their colleagues, accepting directives from others, and operating as a team.
- Character: The perception of veterans is one of trustworthiness, dependability, being drug-free, and having a strong work ethic.
- Structure and Discipline: Veterans with experience in following established procedures are appreciated by companies, especially those that emphasize safety.
Traveling Across the Country & Overseas
POLITICO reports that the US military operates more than 800 bases in 70 countries and 44 states. There are 30 days of paid vacation each year for military members assigned to active-duty duty, along with the two free days per week they are given during most assignments. In addition, active-duty military members can use their time off-duty to travel to other bases for rest and recreation.
Furthermore, military personnel and their immediate families are permitted to fly for free on military aircraft, as long as space is available. Several commercial airlines, Amtrak, car rental companies, hotels, and cruise lines provide discounts to members of the military.
Also, service members will automatically be enrolled in the Armed Services Vacation Club. This subscription service offers week-long stays at luxury resorts across the globe for a low fee of $359 per person.
Higher Income Potential
According to a recent report by Pew Research, which used decades of data compiled over the past 40 years, households headed by veterans tend to have higher incomes and living standards, along with lower levels of poverty. In groups with lower educational attainment, we see the difference most pronounced among members of racial and ethnic minority groups and heads of households with lower levels of education.
Even though most will agree that the salary is not particularly high, the monthly wages are sufficient to cover all your living expenses. Additionally, the benefits associated with the monthly stipend can enable you to skip several expenses that may otherwise need to be covered by a household, such as rent and groceries. Soldiers are paid according to their rank, and the time they have served in the military.
It would be best if you remained in the military as long as you can to receive a better salary for this very reason.
The ability to work hard and demonstrate that you are dependable may lead to promotions in rank, which will also increase your monthly salary. It is also worth noting that people who choose to enlist in military specialties with high demand or dangers (such as combat roles) receive special bonuses.
Consequently, many people aspire to have the most hazardous or demanding jobs to receive the highest possible form of compensation as a result. It is important to remember that you will be working long hours and hard as well as saving money in the process, but the pay is enough to make it rewarding.
Few jobs are available for recent high school graduates without a college education. Therefore, joining the armed forces after high school can sometimes be the best option for high school graduates out of the limited options available. Having a stable job is one of the great things about joining the military. In most states, an employee in the private sector is liable for being laid off without prior notice or warning if they work in the private sector.
Furthermore, a military job is a job that is guaranteed, and it is one that you can keep for as long as your body or mind permits you to work. Jobs with government organizations are extremely popular because they usually have excellent benefits and are stable. As part of your service, you are also trained for any military job or specialization you qualify for, which is a wonderful benefit.
The world is a big place, so who wouldn’t like to explore it? It is not uncommon for us to have grand visions of touring Europe or visiting the Far East, but it is already a reality for many armed forces members. One of the best advantages of serving in the military after graduating high school is that your experiences in the world will be far more extensive than those of many of your friends. In contrast to their circumstances, you could be fighting bad guys on the other side of the world while they move a couple of hours away from their home for college.
Being in the military allows you to travel and see the world for free. That alone is a huge benefit for those who live in the military. You would have to spend thousands of dollars if you were to pay for international travel from your pocket. Thus, due to this restriction, young people can practically not see all the world has to offer.
Because of this, you would be able to explore new cultures and destination countries when you enlist in the military according to your military specialty. You should consider joining the US Navy or Marine Corps if you are interested in traveling outside the United States. Both branches carry out a lot of operations abroad.
The military is well known as one of the best places to develop character. As a result, anyone who enters the Armed Forces will immediately be taught how to be disciplined as soon as they reach boot camp. Even though it is hard to learn discipline and unforgiving, it ultimately creates a better soldier and human being. Due to this reason, a large majority of recruits would like to improve their discipline and accountability by joining the military.
It is very important to discipline yourself to do the right thing regardless of whether someone else is judging you or not. When you are tired and hungry, it is important to stick with a mission. You will likely succeed when you show up on time and work as part of a team. Very few fields of work build disciplines and teach them to their fullest extent to the same degree as the US Armed Forces.
Each of the five services can offer a bonus of up to $40,000 during the recruitment process to attract recruits who are qualified for jobs that are hard to fill, require higher qualifications, or require specialized training with a high dropout rate, according to Military.com. Enlistees who complete their training and become permanent members of these services can receive such a bonus. Typically this bonus is paid out annually, prorated according to the number of years in the position. Additionally, the bonus is just one of many benefits of joining the military after high school.
If you enlist in the military to fill those hard-to-fill positions, you may also be eligible for the following benefits:
- Extra College Funds: Additional funds are provided to supplement the GI Bill.
- Advanced Enlistment Rank: A recruit who has college credits or has participated in ROTC programs may qualify for an accelerated promotion with higher pay or advanced rank immediately upon enlistment. It is not uncommon for a potential recruit to have an E-1 ranking; however, a Navy recruit with college credits may have the ranking of E-3.
- College Loan Repayment Program: A public-funded college loan is repaid in whole or part by all the services in exchange for enlistment.
- Buddy Program: All branches of the military offer what is known as “buddy enlistment”: two people of the same gender can enlist together to go through the basic training. There may also be the possibility of going through the same training and being assigned the same duty base if they have the same job.
Basic Armed Service Benefits
All members of the armed forces are entitled to several benefits, including but not limited to:
- Basic Pay: On average, a new enlistee enters the service at grade E-1, where their monthly payment is approximately $1,785. A recruit generally progresses up to the E-4 level within three years of service and earns at least $2,330 per month, according to the military basic pay rates as of January 1, 2021. A cost-of-living adjustment is made to the rates yearly due to the increased cost of living.
- Special Pay: The pay of military members varies depending on the member’s location, skill, or special assignment. It may also include a hazardous duty, a foreign language ability, or other special duties as part of this pay. Your basic pay and special payments may be exempt from taxes in certain cases, such as when you serve in a combat zone.
- Free Room, Board, and Uniforms: All enlisted members without children who are not married live in barracks on base. The military provides extra pay to recruits with a single room and a tax-free housing allowance to soldiers who live off-base. Furthermore, all military members on active duty are entitled to a tax-free monthly food allowance that they can use for meals in the dining halls on base and for meals off base. The recruitment process includes providing all recruits with a complete uniform set during their initial training. Afterward, they will receive a clothing allowance to replace items that wear out as they age.
- Free Health and Dental Care: A government-funded program known as Tricare Prime provides free health, dental, and prescription drug coverage to active-duty military personnel. It is usually managed by a primary care provider assigned to each individual or the base hospital. Those who have served in the military for more than two years and have a service-connected disability may be eligible for lifetime health care benefits from the Veteran Administration (VA).
- Low-Cost Life Insurance: Service members can obtain military life insurance coverage of up to $400,000 for the low cost of $24 a month through Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). It is automatically included in the policy if the insured suffers a traumatic injury, regardless of whether they receive disability benefits. Upon leaving the military, soldiers can apply for Veteran Group Life Insurance coverage when they leave the service.
- Disability Benefits: The VA provides benefits to disabled members of the armed forces as high as $3,300 per month for service-related disabilities.
- Home Financing: Veterans and active members of the armed services are eligible to obtain low-interest, federally guaranteed mortgage loans under the VA program. Veterans and active members can receive 100% financing for homes that meet conforming loan limits. Veterans are not limited in how many times they can take advantage of VA benefits. However, a veteran’s maximum VA benefits at any given time are limited. Furthermore, many states provide discounted rates on housing and land purchase loans to veterans who qualify for the program.
The US government offers several benefits to military families including basic housing and financial assistance. If you’re curious about how spousal military benefits work, explore our blogs at PAGuard today.