This is kinda misleading. In the Air Force, it is a standard that you finish your formal training (6+ months), your on the job training (1+ years), and your career development courses (1+ years) before you begin any type of college courses.
In your first 4 years, it's difficult to get time for college.
Now, I've been in for about 10 years. I work from 3pm till about midnight 5 days a week. From 7pm till about 11pm (two days a week) I'm in school. The tuition is free and I just pay for books. I earn a salary and I even get time out of work to go to school. Hell, I usually spend my first two hours at work doing homework.
Like you said, good leaders deligate. :)
Another catch-22. If you are single, you *will* live in a dorm. If you are lucky, it will be a single room and two rooms will share a common bathroom. If you are unlucky, it'll be 2 to a room.
There will be monthly inspections of your room. If you have clothes on the floor, dust on top of the fridge, or porn on the wall, you'll be in trouble. Candles and insence are a no-no also.
If you have something in your room the boss don't like, your career is as good as over. Upside-down crosses, anime, bongs, dildos, you get the idea.
If you are married, you have two choices. On or off-base housing.
If you live off-base in the US, the military will pay you about 90% of the average rent for that area. If you are overseas, they pay 100%. Utilities come out of your own pocket. The areas near bases are notorious for being high-crime areas. They are also littered with porn stores, bars, seedy hotels, and pawn shops to cater to the on-base junior enlisted population.
On-base is usually nice. You may have to deal with the so-called yard-natzis; people who have nothing better to do than to turn you in for not cutting your grass on a weekly basis. You pay for cable, internet, and telephone; everything else is free.
>>Free Health/Mental/Dental/Vision care (often for life)
The military health care system is terrible. You will get only the bare minimum you need to get back to work. I've had ingrown tonails so bad they were bleeding and the doc (after a 5-hour wait) gave me a script for motrin and sent me back to work.
There is no confedentiality! If you seek mental health for depression or alcohol/drug/gambling/porn addiction, you will lose your job. If you have a security clerance, that's gone too. They won't nescessarily fire you, but you will end up doing the rest of your time behind a desk away from pointy things.
If you don't get force-discharged prior to 20 years. You spend 3+ days a week running 3+ miles and see how well your legs hold up. If you have 15+ years in and complain that your knees hurt a bit after that 10-mile run, you will be kicked the fuck out. No retirement for you; just a small disability pension.
Still, if you can make it, the retirement is very cool. You can go to work for a civilian company and use the $1500/month pension to make a house payment.
>>Free Paid Training
This is very nice. It's just a matter of if the training is important to you. I've had HP OpenView training so many times it makes me sick. But outside the military, the training means squat.
Try telling a HR person that, while you don't have a CCNP, you have spent 6+ years configuring policy-based routing. Some of that in combat situations. Nothing more fun than landing in a field with a laptop, router, satalite ground station, generator, and crypto gear and setting up a forward observation post.
This fucking rocks! You can build up to 60 days of leave and take it mostly at once.
I was in a situation where I had 94 days of vacation time and my boss told me to take the summer off. It was very nice.
>>Unlimited Paid Sick Leave
I guess. However, look at the medical stuff above and decide for yourself.
Not really. You get promotions up to E-4 or O-3 for free. E-5 and E-6 are very easy to get. E-7 is possible on merit alone, but few will make it. E-8/9 are purely political slots. Spend lots of time doing sports and ceremonies for your unit and you'll have a shot at making thoes ranks.
The government usually gives minor raises based on cost of living. Look for 3% across the board with some ranks getting 5% or more.
Don't get stuck in a shitty job. If you do, retraining is free and guarenteed after your first enlistment. It is also possible for people with >15 years to retrain.
>>Subsided Shopping/ Transportation/ Entertainment
The shopping system is subsidised, but usually Wal-Mart will be cheaper because of volume.
The Exchange will carry two types of items: cheap-assed shit and fucking expensive as hell.
You can but no-name Korean-made shirts or Tommy-Hill/Ralph Lauren. Not much in between.
And you'll see 20 other guys wearing the exact same shirt. :)
Transportation is very nice. Free flights anywhere in the world. Just pray that you get lucky enough to catch a return flight.
Entertainment isn't too bad. All the USO stuff is free. I've seen several concerts by big-name bands for nothing.
Just last week, I saw ROTS before anyone in the States. 19 May 2005 at 0001 (GMT+9). That puts me about 11 hours ahead of the East-Coast USians. While you stood in line, I was talking about how cool it was when the dude did the thing to the people. Oh, and it cost me about $3 to get in and $2 for a mammoth Coke and another $1 for all the popcorn I could eat. I also had some nachos for $1.50. I brought my own bag of Malted-Milk balls and the theater was OK with that.
Down side? Well, no dolby pro logic uber surround sound. And the woofers clipped a lot during the inital space battle. And there was a handprint smugged on the screen.
If you like to travel, join without thought. If you like being near momma, don't join for shit.
If you have a girfriend, don't join. She won't wait. Same for a boyfriend.
If you are afraid of guns or being shot, don't join. It probably won't happen, but it might. There are about 200K people in the Air Force. There have been about 1600 US deaths in Iraq. That's .8% if you were only looking at the Air Force. The actual number is probably a lot closer to .2%.
If you like addrenaline, join. We run and jump and shoot and drive and climb and hike and do all that cool shit. And we do it all over the world. I learned to ski in the Dolomites of northern Italy. Spent a summer canyoning in Austria. I've been to auto shows in Tokyo. Gone fishing in Bosnia. If you like doing cool shit in cool places, join.
If you want a family, don't join the Marines or the Navy. Tell your SO they will have to deal with you being gone for up to a year at a time if you re in the Army. In the AF, we have a hard limit of 4 months in a combat zone. After that, you leave and someone else takes your place. They have to wait 11 months from when you get back to send you agian.
If you don't like the prospect of spending 4 years in college and don't really have an idea of what you'll do when you leave high-school, the military is a good idea. Spend 4 years trying to decide if you really know yourself. Learn a trade. Earn some money. Blow shit up. Take a .2% chance of being blown up. Go to strange countries and drink their beer. Go to strange countries and fuck their women.
Most importantly, get the fuck away from where you were born and live a little.
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