T Nation

Question For The Military Types


#1

Hey all, I am currently a 3rd year law student, and as such, I have begun seriously thinking about jobs and careers. I am increasingly considering the possibility of the JAG Corps, most likely Air Force, but possibly one of the other branches as well.

My reasons are numerous - most notably, to say the work sounds interesting is understatement. Also, while I like to work hard when I work, I don't like to work all the time - that is, quality of life is highly important to me. Civilian firms are notably lacking in this department. The military on the other hand seems to offer excellent vacation, excellent retirement (should I decide to stay in), reasonable hours, a focus on physical fitness, etc. Further, the money, while not great, is certainly decent when you throw in all the benefits and extras.

Given all this, I'd join in an instant - with one caveat. The moving around thing worries me. I am a little on the introverted side, do NOT make new friends easily, and it takes me a long time to get settled into a place when I move there. The whole moving every three years thing is not to my liking. My questions are chiefly about that:

1) I know it is POSSIBLE you will be moved every 3 years as a member of the armed forces - but if you are stationed at a larger base (say, Langley AFB in Virginia), is it LIKELY? In other words, in practice, how good are they about honoring people's desires to "stay put" (or at least move around a little less often)? I know they'll never make any guarantee - that I am fine with - I'm just talking about actual average practice here.

2) If you are to move, how does it work? Is it "you are going to X" or is it "We no longer need you here, we'd like you to go to , which one would you prefer?" (I live in fear of being sent somewhere like Florida.. I like winter.. :P).

3) In all honesty, is the moving something you just get used to? Or is it the type of thing that makes you miserable if you aren't "wired" for it?

4) If there are any actual JAG officers on here, how have you found the experience? What branch of the service are you in? Are the benefits, etc as good as they say? Is the work as varied an interesting as it seems it would be?

Thanks in advance for your help!


#2

First off, my step father was enlisted Army 22 years retired. My biological father was 25 years officer Navy. I am 3 years enlsited Navy. So I know a little bit.

1) From my experience your desire to stay someplace is factored in, but only a large concern in the twilight of your career. You WILL move if you stay in long enough, but towards the end they will most likely let you stay put 6-8 years.
2) You talk to someone called a detailer. They inform you of the billets (places to move that need someone of your job type) available and you choose. If you are aware of having to move years in advance, you can contact your detailer and inform them that if place X gets a billet save it for me.
3) Moving is cake. The move is free, and the travel for you is free too. You get compensated for mileage, hotels, etc. Adjusting in the military is not such a big ordeal. Everyone understands the situation and has been there.
4) Not a JAG, but don't join the Navy if time out to see (potentially 9 months) is unappealing.


#3

Hey man, thanks for the info!

Any other military guys who could chime in, your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Also, somethign of a weird question:

I notice they have height/weight requirements. Do they waive that if your bodyfat is low? Like, 5 -8 years or so from now I'd really like to be around 230-250 lbs, 6'1", ripped. Technically they say you can't be over 208 at 6'1". I'm assuming they will waive it if you only have like 10-15% bodyfat?


#4

6 years here in the army. A few things you must remember, whatever branch you enter be it Army, Navy, MC, or AF, the military coms first. You're a soldier before a lawyer. That aside you do get 30 days of leave a year, but on the flipside they can tell you when you can and can't take it. You must deploy when told to as an officer, you must move when told to move. I believe the Air Force has some of the longer term duty stations. Also, you will need to know the Unifor Code of Military Justice, not state laws. Also as for the Army the height and weight standar is waiveable after you pass a ridiculous waist and neck measurement. The money is not that good compared to your civilian counterparts. If you start as a second LT. I'm not sure but I believe it's around 40,000, I could be wrong. I do strongly recommend it as any branch of the military can only make you a more well rounded individual. If you don't like it after 6 years you can leave. I think that about covers it


#5

My father spent 22 years in the Army as an officer, and between my reserve time and current active duty time (all enlisted) I have 18 years in 3 different career fields. So speaking from my 36 years dealing with the Army I can say without a doudt: it just depends.

When I was growing up you moved every 2 years.....and that was that. Now the moves are pretty much 3 years minimum at a duty station. I have known some that stayed as long as 8 years and some that moved after 18 months. A lot has to do with where you are and what you do. From what Ive been told, it is VERY easy to homestead at Ft. Bragg (if you're airborne) for years on end. Stay in contact with your branch manager and make sure he/she knows what you want to do. And always be pro-active concerning your career. if you've been someplace 3 years.....start either trying to get someplace you would rather be, or start making arrangments to stay put. Never let your branch take charge of your career.

As far as being introverted. Dont worry. I am also...and I may not have a lot of friends outside of the military...I have found that for the most part I dont really relate to civilians as a whole anyways. And its easy to make friends with your brothers in arms.

Whatever your decision, best of luck.

Sean


#6

I've been in the Army now since Feb. and I was in the Navy a few years ago. Both have their up's and downs. If you are worried about moving alot I would go into the Navy. I'm not EXACTLY sure what the rule is now but in the Navy when you got stationed on a ship you were there for TWO YEARS minimun. If you wanted to extend you could and there was never any problems with it. Now, during those two years you were in and out of home port alot not counting deployments to the Gulf.

The Army on the other hand is a little different. From what I understand they send your ass where ever they wanna send you. But thats changing. I think they realize that people don't like moving all the time and now they have units that are "stablizing" where you are more likey to stay for three years.

Since your close to finishing your degree you may also want to consider the F.B.I.'s Hostage Rescue Team.

Anyway thats my 2 cents. If you got anymore questions I'm here to help.


#7

Thanks for the info guys. And you guys sort of hinted at what I was thinking regarding the moving.

Namely, Langley AFB, for example, is a big ass base - I'm almost certain the largest on the east coast, and one of the larger ones in the country. There are over 8,000 airmen stationed there. More are coming after the BRAC realignment. My thought was, surely they need JAGs there all the time. So that maybe, if I played my cards right, I could tend to stay put a bit longer than if I was stationed at a much smaller base with more changing needs.

As for the UCMJ - I know that's what I'll need, but most law schools don't teach it - at all. I'm pretty sure thats why you go to the 2-3 month military law classes when you join JAG.

Also, in the Air Force (same for Army I think), I undersand you get a guaranteed promotion to Captain in 6 months, which is O-3 pay scale. In the Hampton Roads area, thats a bit over 50K - pretty good pay given the benefits in my book. Certainly not like a civilian law firm, but you aren't counting billable hours all day and working 60-80 hour weeks either.

And regarding when you can take leave, correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not like most jobs? Meaning, if I go in January, and say I want June 20 - July 5 off, I've got a pretty good chance. If I go in May and ask for the same thing, they may very well say forget about it depending on whats going on. Idea being, advance notice of longer chunks of time off is a good idea because it gives them a chance to plan around it.


#8

Sniper99,

hey, you got plenty of good advice already, but i'll throw in anything i think might help ya....here goes.

if you plan on being non-combat arms, go to the Air Force. they take care of their people the best.

JAG officers represent/prosecute soldiers, but they are also assigned to do wills/power of attorneys for units that are mobilizing (imagine doing that for 6 months...). also, i was in the Army Infantry for 3 years active duty, and 8 years in the National Guard. i'm a cop in civilian life, and i'll tell you one thing-i fucking hate MP's, and anyone that fucks with soldiers as part of thier living. many times this also refers to officers...

i don't really think the JAG is gonna be as rewarding (financially or morally) as you hope-regardless, i would suggest you try to locate a JAG officer in your area, and meet with them. good luck!


#9

Cyco - understandable. That said, the same JAG that prosecutes one guy (which I assume you are saying you don't like) could defend another. Its all an unfortunate necessity.

I'd probably join the Air Force, like you say, partially because I simply have always found it the most compelling branch to me personally, and partially because both of my grandfathers served in the USAAF in WWII - one a mechanic in the Pacific, the other a B-17 pilot. He was good enough he stayed state side and trained others.

I got some funny stories about him.. stuff like flying over a football game and the whole crew checking out what was going on through the bombadier's scope... good stuff, lol.

The reason I was saying the work is interesting is because its varied. Most civilian practices pidgeon hole you and that's it. Wills and such really aren't all that bad - for a while at least.

Prosecution I would like because while I'm sure there's some discipline matters soldiers don't like to see prosecuted, I have no doubts there are some bad guys out there too who thrive of screwing up other people's lives. Its all give and take I think.


#10

One thing for sure is if you follow through and go the JAG route there is no turning back. There is going to be so much invested in you that if its not what there 's a good chance that you won't have any say in what you really want to do in the military. As a Marine (0331) i applaud your enthusiasm but the Jag is way to much brass for me. There is many options, why not fly or be in the grunts, why do a job that you learned in the civilian world in the military. One way or the other is still an advantage.


#11

BigRJ - good point. That said, I didn't go through law school (which is hell on earth of its own sort) to not use it! I find the practice of law interesting - JAG offers the opportunity to do so in a setting where you actully get to do trials, and make a difference, as opposed to being some 80 year old partner's slave boy for 4 years. Also to some extent I'd rather help soldiers than help insurance companies or hypochondriac plaintiffs.

As for not liking it - the active duty commitment is only 4 years, so that doesn't seem a huge negative.

Good point though - I'm definitely keeping all my options open. I'll see what comes up with the civilian route too!


#12

I have alot of close marines that are officers (o-2 o-3)that have been out of the MC for some time, some got called back to active duty some re-upped. My good friend was like you (he majored in poli-sci) anyway he always picked my brain on what is like to be in the Marines. After badgering him to join he went in as an enlisted and did 3 years active went to OCS and now is a Captain. He is what is reffered to as a "mustang" being previous enlisted and then going the brass route. He told me he appreciated the Marine Corps and was proud to see more that the enlisted men are the back bone of the Marine Corps.


#13

Marines are awesome, no doubt. My cousin just shipped out for boot camp today.. hard to believe its the same kid who followed me around constantly when he was little haha. It's definitely a good choice for him, and I'm proud of him for following through with it.

That said, I'm partial to the Air Force for a variety of reasons (see above), but I'm definitely going to check them all out (assuming I decide to go the JAG route in the end of course). Navy I hear has a good chance of service on a ship (even as a JAG), which is not exactly to my liking.. I'd rather stay on drier land :P. Army I'm not so sure about, just because they are seemingly the worst for moving you constantly (not that the others are that much better). That leaves Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. I'm definitely checking into all three, though Coast Guard seems fairly limited in comparison.

I really do appreciate all the comments, they have been most helpful.