T Nation

Considering Military


Well, I am finally done with college at the ripe age of 25. I am seriously considering joining a branch of the military and becoming an officer. I think I will have a much greater chance at getting hired as a police officer after I get out. Everyone I've talked to has recommended the Air Force. I am just looking for advice and possible pro's/cons to the particular branches.


Military police will definitely open up a lot of opportunities.

As far as the branch debate goes, I'll let those with more experience chime in.


Think long and hard before you decide to make any commitments. Once they have you... they own you. Trust me the military isn't what you think it is and you won't be able to figure it out until you get in. From my experience it really hasn't added up to be what I was promised from consistent unprofessionalism, sloppy fat Marines, and incompetent leadership I?ve been a little disappointed.

However, I have also had some of the greatest experiences of my life and met some incredible individuals. There is definitely good and definitely the bad in the military, but the only difference between the military and civilian life is that you cannot escape the bad. The military as an organization owns you and you can?t escape the bad like you can in civilian life when you go home after your 9-5.


hmm was hoping for some more responses.


I was an AF officer, and from what I remember they had trouble getting enough officers for the police units (Security Forces), could be wrong though. Sign up and you'll owe 4 years, you will meet many great people and many douchebags (most of whom will be in charge of you). My best friends in life are guys I served with. In any branch, it gives you perspective to be doing something that actually matters. I've been out for 5 years, and its still amazing to me some of the mindless shit that people think is important. My advice: do it if you want to serve, if you want the comraderie, if you care about defending your country. Don't do it for the benefits it gives you, those mean much less in comparison.


what were some of the reasons the air force was reccomended to you over other branches?

were you looking for combat experience?


Man the Chair Force?

Just kidding, My neighbor is AFROTC and got a pilot slot so I have to bust his balls. Dude its good shit whatever branch you do. Don't forget you could always do Guard or Reserve too. Also whats your major? If your major is like language and shit you could make some extra bank.


I have to agree with mbarret here. As an injured combat vet, I will say that it is a very dangerous job, without adequate compensation. After you are of no use to the military, they may just drop you like a hot rock. (I was accepted into SF shortly before the injury.) With the current administration, military budgets may shrink and opportunities with them. Bush/Cheney are no longer invading anyplace that has sand. I still run into employment problems simply due to the fact that, in the past, I've caught some funky diseases that don't exist in the USA.

If you really want to be a cop, get POST certified through night school, or move someplace that has openings and work a few years (yes, it may be a small town!) The college degree would be helpful in this case. Also, rule out federal and state jobs (that is, apply and be totally eliminated from consideration) before committing to the military. US Customs, Immigration & Border Patrol are both ALWAYS looking. They want language skills and college degrees.

I recall having problems with some higher-ups because I had some college. Think long and hard. The global economy may suck, but you only need to worry about YOUR economy.


If you want to be a police officer, apply for the police.
I'll echo HolyMacaroni, why was the Air Force suggested over other branches?
I'm an officer in the Army, and I have (mostly) nothing but good things to say about time in the Army, and would recommend it as a branch to almost anyone. Having said that, make sure you know what you're getting into. I've worked with far too many people who did nothing but... complain about the Army because they expected something different. HTH


Ok, my degree is criminal justice. I can't remember the exact reasons air force was suggested other than it is "easier" so to speak and you actually get rooms to sleep in. I was not particularly looking for combat experience. I would like to be part of the military police if possible. To the last poster, I am not a complainer. I actually despise people that complain about shit.


Is it that hard to become a civilian cop?


I actually took the same path in life that you are currently considering, with the exception of the fact that I did not finish my degree, and I went in as enlisted...not an officer. I joined the Army, and became a Military Police soldier for seven years. I originally joined hoping to gain some experience so that I could get out and become a civilian police officer (which I did...but more on that in a minute).

The Army was an overall good experience for me, but you need to realize two things...

1.) Military Police (and I imagine their Air Force counterparts as well) have a combat mission, and that ALWAYS takes priority. I got some law enforcement experience, but most of my time was spent in field units, training for combat. Many bases now use DOD police to perform the L.E. function. Be aware of how your branch of choice handles this issue before you sign up.

2.) Officers in the Military Police Corps do even less law enforcement than their enlisted counterparts. When I was at Fort Hood, the officers might have to pull "Duty Officer" one night a month. That was the extent of their law enforcement experience. The majority of an officer's time is spent doing administrative duties...and preparing his unit for combat.

Lastly, I did become a police officer in a large city in Texas, which is where I currently work. I was proud of my achievements in the Army, and had a bunch of L.E. related schools that I thought would appeal to them. That being said....I would NOT say that being prior military made me any more competititve as a candidate. I don't think my military resume helped much. Two areas my military experience DID help during the hiring phase:

1.) I was already in very good physical shape, and breezed through the physical selection.

2.) I got 5 extra points on the civil service examination due to my military experience. That made a huge difference in my final standing on the eligibility list for hiring. May not sound like much, but if they're only hiring 3 people...well...you get the idea.

Good luck. You can PM me if you have other questions.



Security Forces is more of a "brotherhood" than some of the other military specialties. From what I've seen, Army Security Forces & Air Force Security Forces train very similar. I would include the USMC with both of them, but I was a Devil Dog & our Security Forces - - while very similar to USA & USAF - - were a little different. There's something about the mentality of Marines.

So. You need to expect life inside the military to be very different than the "public image." Not saying that the public image is incorrect, but it's either "scrubbed" to political correctness, or displayed in a harsh judgemental light. Talk to people who have been security forces in the different branches.

I see USAF security forces every day in my job. They work long hours, and receive very little appreciation. They get the job done well, they're expected to do it the same way the following day, but with half the time, and half the funding.

The USAF didn't used to be on the front lines. They are now. They get wounded a lot. But not as often as US Army. The Army has the highest suicide rates, but the USAF is catching up fast - which has the top brass pretty worried.

I can't tell you much about the US Navy, because I haven't worked with them in a while. I was stationed with them at Hickam AFB / Pearl Harbor in 2006. All the branches are busting their tails, without a doubt.

Life as an officer is very different than an enlisted experience. So if you can, talk with officers. The lowest ranking officer is paid significantly better than the highest enlisted ranks. Take a look at the pay scales. Know that recruiters tell their own tales. Not saying they're bad. Just like used car salesmen aren't necessarily bad. LOL... I'm trying to make you smile.

I'll also throw in the USMC security forces have Zero Tolerance. For pretty much anything out of order. Your uniform, haircut, personal standards are expected to be top notch. Having said that, I read someone else's post above... and that makes me wonder if my beloved Corps has changed.

But to my knowledge, USMC security forces are their own separate "clique," if you get my drift. So a USMC Logistics person might not give you a good idea of life in Security forces.

I hope that makes a little sense. I've been either IN the military, or working for the military since 1988. Take my words with a grain of salt. Please know that I can only speak to what I've seen. You need to ask questions, etc.

I should also mention that I've run the Wounded Warrior program for all branches of service for eastern Washington, Idaho, and western Montanna for a while. Every branch is trying to take care of its wounded warriors. It's rough out there. Look out for you. Thank you for considering service to our country.



Not according to the pay charts.

Depending on your specific job, the gov't doesn't own you any more than a private business would own you as a civilian. Yeah, you can deploy for months at a time and you'll probably have to stand some sort of duty where you'll be at a location or on call periodically but you can go home just like any one else at the end of the work day.


An 0-1 with 2 years makes the same as an E-6 with 14 years. http://www.dfas.mil/militarypay/militarypaytables.html


Unless the Teletubbies have taken over the Armed Services, the following is still in effect:

1- National Security overrides safety rules (including duty hour limitations) every time. Exceptions include being a danger to yourself and others (e.g.. lack of sleep) in which case, we were shown where to catch a 30 min nap.

Garrison life is generally 9-5 (or 0545-1745 depending) M-F unless 'something comes up', which may be anything, at any time. You may be required to work 7 days a week, without overtime pay. Vacation time ('Leave') is subject to obtaining approval from command.

Someone may not have pointed out that the US is currently 'at war' and that the government has at least one 'state of emergency' in effect. That gives them the legal authority to disregard all the fluffy stuff about rights, etc.

2- Your job description is ruled by those four words in small print- 'Other duties as assigned.' ALWAYS. 'That is not my job' is NOT a valid excuse.

3- Civilians are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in which case a superior can administratively discipline you, including loss of pay and your freedom.

4- Constitutional 'rights' are secondary to duty in nearly every interpretation. If you don't believe me, study Title 50 United States Code (which I believe is commonly called the War Powers Act) and the Executive Orders (found on the whitehouse.gov website.)

5- Quitting, while not impossible, is very complicated and difficult, both administratively and psychologically.

If you are entering military service, do it because you are passionate about it, not because you have nothing better to do at the moment and you think it will get you where you eventually want to be.

Military service will change you, like it or not, for better or for worse and not always in ways your parents/friends/significant other may approve. Insomnia sucks, in case you've never experienced it. Thank Heavens for this board.

I don't know how it is now, but unless you are former ROTC or have a specialty (e.g. medical doctor, nurse, lawyer, research scientist), you go in as enlisted and must ASK for the opportunity to attend Officer Candidate School, to which you must apply and be accepted before attendance.

In the meantime, you will have the opportunity to work alongside the HS dropout who was given the choice of 'go to war or go to jail' by the judge who (with the assistance of a shady recruiter) arranged for his/her enlistment instead of serving 8 years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon, drug possession with intent to distribute and extortion.

I loved the job, but hated some of the guys I worked alongside. I got to live with them, too. Mind you, there are some real gems in uniform, but they can be outnumbered by duds as well.

Also, keep in mind that MP/Security Force personnel are not always loved by your fellow servicemembers due to the fact that YOU are the ones busting them (or their buddies) for having a little bit of 'weed' in their car (maybe not even theirs), or getting into fights, or arresting them for arguing with their spouse/domestic partner/lover du jour, or driving under the influence.

Long hours, crummy pay, dangerous work, an often unpopular member of the community... make sure you actually want it.

If you just want to go into LE, get a law degree and apply for the FBI. It's 3 years either way, at least. And military schooling doesn't always translate directly into civilian training. Some organizations require that you go through their academy no matter what.

Think long and hard. Then remember this advice, regardless of your decision: 'There is no 'I' in TEAM; There are three 'U' s in 'SH*T THE F*CK *P' '


$2763.60 < $3,282.00

Yes I like being argumentative. :wink:


look at the similar scale... I didn't memorize the damn thing to reply to your argumentativeness, Vandal. What the hell ever - guess you're proving a point or something.

O-1 with 3 vs. E-6 with 18.... try looking at that. I hope that is a high enough level of specificity for you.



you'll be an officer anyways so unless you go infantry you'll push papers 90% of your career.


I'd try US Border Patrol before the military. They're just as desperate, pay better, will give you more LE exp, more control over your career, and a better chance at a 'normal' 25yo's life (I assume you're thinking of settling down sometime in the next 5-10 years).