Q/A: Should I Join The Military?

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December 1, 2014 by Liberty

I’ve been a bit too busy to worry about the weekly Q/A sessions recently. That being said, I got one message that I couldn’t stop myself from responding to. As usual, I changed a few details to help keep the identity private. I also cut out some personal comments from both ends. Here’s the meat of the question:

Your post actually got me back to thinking about joining the Air Force. I know you’re probably thinking WTF?! But you were saying that the government is going to steal the money anyway, you might as well take what you can from it. On top of that, when I was originally signing up for the military after high school I got qualified for (a well-paying job in the free market.) I ended up passing but I figure I could still go back. If I got that job and left 4 years later I’d be set for life. I figure I’d be way better off trying to get back in that position than my current path. Am I wildly taking that out of context?

The repeated banging of my head against my desk should answer that question for you.

You should not join the military. And no, I don’t think you need to look into the moral reasons to make that decision.

Of course, the morality of the situation is definitely dubious. You’re not only taking taxpayer money but you’re setting yourself up to be directly (or indirectly in this case) responsible for killing people. This is not a morally neutral situation by any reasonable definition. This isn’t the CEO of a company producing a product that accidentally kills people. This is the CEO actively allowing the creation of a product to kill people. Taking taxpayer money can be understood morally. The fact that you know you may be responsible for killing people isn’t so simple.

I say this as someone that was almost in the military myself.

You are completely rationalizing an absolutely horrible position. Even if you are one layer away from the actual bombs getting dropped, you’re position solely exists to make sure that these people can kill. That all being said, you don’t have to believe me on that.

I believe you already know this or you wouldn’t have even mentioned it.

Even if joining the military is completely moral, you’re still making a mistake.

Despite what they like to tell you in the military brochures, people don’t like to hire former military men. Sure, there are some organizations that like it. (Most of them like it to help them get government contracts but joining a private company that has to go for government contracts just means you’re at another layer of this onion of evil.)

Military personnel are government employees. The years you spend in the military will be, mostly, completely unproductive. You may gain basic skills in your field, you’ll not be growing any more capable. I’ve heard stories of some former military men spending weeks doing virtually nothing but sitting around and waiting.

People in the free market are not too stupid to know this.

You will need to convince most companies that you’re not the standard military employee. This is particularly true if you’re only planning on spending 4 years in the military. With 20 years in the military you may be able to get a good job based on downright experience but with only a few years of practical experience, you’re going to have to compete with much more skilled and experienced employees.

You’ll be signing over 4 (maybe more depending on the program) years of your life for training that can be completed for less than $50,000 (true in this case. Maybe less or more depending on fields.) $50,000 is not worth 4 years of your life. If your disciplined then you can pay off that $50,000 within a year or two of working in that field. (Again, depending on fields.) Of course, the year or two of paying that off includes only 40-50 hour weeks versus virtually all your time if you were in the military.

The military is not a 9-5 job. You can’t go home and see your family at the end of the day. At any point, they can require you to move virtually anywhere in the world. You are contractually obligating yourself under the ownership of the military. You have virtually no choice beyond the most superficial facts.

The military is virtually never a smart financial decision. It offers tons of obvious benefits but they don’t even come close to the less visible costs.

(Just look at former military men you know. What percentage of them are people that you’d actually want to be? Don’t think you’re above becoming that overweight former military man that seems to settle for anything from life.)

This is also completely ignoring the health risks of the situation.

In virtually any military position, you’re putting your life on the line. Even in the most secure areas, you’re a military target. Most positions actively leave secure bases and end up putting themselves into horribly risky places. Some people get downright shot at. The costs of dying aren’t exactly easy to calculate considering you have only one life.

Statistically speaking, death isn’t the most obvious concern but health in general is a huge concern.

Statistics show that anywhere from 5%-10% of the war on terror veterans are facing PTSD. (Sometimes even higher.)

Some estimates suggest there are hundreds of thousands of undiagnosed traumatic brain injuries from the War in Iraq.

Don’t forget that joining the military nearly triples the likelihood that you’ll end up committing suicide.

These are not figures that can be calculated into your equations. Even if they could be, we’re still learning more and more problems. Every year of studying shows more and more problems in the physical and mental health of military men. Who knows how bad it’s going to turn out in the long run. You should not join the military for the question marks alone.

If you have more brains than a dead fish then the military is not a wise financial or personal decision. There are better ways to make more money with less investment. There are much better careers that you can invest your time in without risking the rest of your life.

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