For most United States citizens, the armed services are famed for a history of honor and valor accredited from their duty to this nation. Since the beginning of the revolutionary war back in 1776, Americans have put their very lives on the line to defend the nation they love. There has been countless wars and battles over the years of this young country and all conflicts require protectors. Whether Spartans of Greece or the Crusaders of the ancient Holy War warriors have been around since the beginning. Since the establishment of the US Army on June 14, 1775 the United states has built a reputation of being one of the world’s most powerful forces and for having one of the biggest and most committed military in the world.
I have wanted to serve this country since the day I could remember. I was raised in a strongly influenced patriotic household and grew up with a love and respect for my country and its veterans. Whether its Fourth of July or Veterans days my family and friends alike never held back celebrating and always have flown the colors proudly. Since I was young I have always wanted to be like the veterans in my family and community, full of pride and accomplishment. I vowed that one day I would be just like them and give back to this country that has given so much to me. My real research on the military began my freshman year of high school, the time when you feel over whelmed because you actually have to do something with your life. With all I wanted to learn and experience the best choice for me was to join the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) program at my school.
Joining this program was the best decision I have ever made. I knew for sure I wanted to serve, but the question was for which branch, and what should I do? With all four branches offering different things it was not an easy decision to make. Through my years of AFJROTC I have had multiple encounters with military personal, recruiters, and career specialist. While they all provided valued information and insight within the branch, it was always their branch that was the best. If every serviceman claims their branch to be the best, then how do I know which one really is the best? This question has led me to conduct research on my own time with one trusted individual that has served or is currently serving within each branch of the military, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Airforce.
My interview process started with finding current or retired military personal to ask questions about their honest experience to serve within each branch. I avoided recruiters at all cost as they tend to have a reputation of making their branch of service sound too good to be true. Being in a military oriented family and having a patriotic peer group, finding servicemen was not a difficult task. All four service men were asked the same 17 questions that would be commonly asked by individuals interested in joining. Few of these questions include base pay based off rank, differing boot camp experiences, and the effect of family life. The US Army is the oldest branch in American history, dating back to pre-1800s. The US Army holds the largest amount of military personal with slightly less than half a million active duty members, and over 300,000 soldiers in the reserves alone. The primary objective of the Army are land based operations. Whether its ground cover in the Middle East or providing disaster relief on our own soil the US Army does it all. I was privileged enough to conduct an interview with Sergeant Jason Schweizer, a US Army retired veteran. Sergeant Schweizer enlisted in the Army on August 11, 1987 when he was only 18 years old. Jason has always had a love for his country and needed to kick start his life, and the US Army was his ticket to the world.
In the “Status Configurations, Military Service and Higher Education” produced by the US National Library of Medicine it states “The U.S. Armed Forces offer educational and training benefits as incentives for service” Sergeant Schweizer described his boot camp experience as “enjoyable, but hard”. Basic Training for the Army nowadays last 10 weeks and is ranked to be the second hardest boot camp to get through. He worked as a generator mechanic during his 8 years in active duty and 4 years in the national guard. Family life was described as quite difficult as the military requires most of your time, as out of his 8 years of active duty he was reportedly deployed for 4.5 years of it. During these deployments he was stationed at 4 different bases, his favorite being in Germany. One of the many challenges all military members face is being stereotyped by other branches and the world. One of the challenges soldiers face is being looked down upon for being “grunts” though they complete a multitude of successful missions each year and work tirelessly to ensure the protection of this country. When asked “If given the chance, would you do it all over again?”, the only appropriate response from the proud solider was “Absolutely.”
The United States Navy is the second oldest military branch in America, dating back to its establishment on October 13, 1775. Being only slightly younger than the Army the Navy has a heritage and traditions devolved and practiced over generations of sailors. The Navy’s primary objective is to maintain freedom of the seas through having combat ready naval forces. Military personal numbers for the US Navy reach over 300,000 active duty sailors and over 100,000 in the naval reserves. It was an honor to be able to conduct an interview with Second Class Petty Officer Vera Bauder US Navy Retired. PO2 Bauder enlisted in the United States Navy in 1974 at the age of 27. She wanted to enlist out of high school at the age of 18 but her parents wouldn’t sign the paperwork, giving her a few years of living on her own before she finally went to serve her country. Her time in boot camp was quite easier than for most as she has already obtained the life skill necessary, like ironing and shining shoes, while her younger peers were still struggling to learn. Mrs. Bauder worked as a communications technician and achieved the rank of Petty Officer Second Class in only a 4-year enlistment contract. Though dating was discouraged in the Navy in the 1970s that didn’t stop her from meeting her husband who was also in the Navy and are still married to this day. She received her base pay for her rank but never obtained any bonuses as she worked on a war ship at a time women weren’t allowed to work on any ships. This was a tough time for women in the military but for current times all military branches including the Navy are more accommodable to women and their rights. When asked the golden question she replied with “Sure”.
The United States Marine Corps is the nation’s third oldest branch dating to its creation on November 10, 1775. The Us Marine Corps has built a reputation of being “the few and the proud” as it is the smallest branch with less than 200,000 active duty Marines and less than 40,000 in the reserves. The Marine corps primary mission is to win our nations battles by fighting on land, air, and sea. The Marine Corps is meant to be ambitious and able to be deployed and effective in any and all environments. I was fortunate enough to have one of my closest friends to have joined and graduated boot camp within this last year to have the most updated aspects of what it’s like to be one of the few and the proud. Private First-Class Caleb Sanez enlisted in the Marine Corps on November 13, 2017. As a close friend he was honest in describing his time in boot camp as one of the hardest things to accomplish. Every task had to be done on little sleep with minimal time. The two words that described his experience the best was “Pure intensity”. He considered every branch before joining and made an effort to visit every recruiter but the one that called him the most was the USMC for their focus on pure military training and encouragement to stay in the military. PFC Sanez is now a reservist but plans on attending ASU and becoming an officer by the end of his enlistment contract. Until then he works as a 1345 engineering equipment operator and reports to Luke Air Force base one weekend a month. Some of the hardest challenges for young Marines is that they get ahead of them self and marry at significantly young age contributing to the military’s high divorce rate. When asked the question PFC Sanez replied with “Absolutely, ask any Marine.”
The United States Air Force is the youngest of the 4 branches under the Department of Defense. It was established on September 18, 1947 after it was declared as its own branch of service separate from the Army Air Force. The Air Force consist of over 300,000 active duty members, over 140,000 civilian personnel, about 69,000 reservists, and about 105,000 Air National Guardsman. The Air Forces mission is to fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyber space. Being the youngest of the branches the Air Force has a higher focus on new technology to win war fare. Whether its breaking the sound barrier with jets or conducting missions in space the United States Air Force dominates the sky to protect this country from all enemies. It was a privilege to be able to sit down and interview Staff Sergeant Michael Kelly and learn about his life in the Air Force. SSgt Kelly enlisted into the Air Force on December 10, 2010 at the age of 18. What drove his interest into the Air Force over other branches was the career opportunities after the Air Force. The Air Force cares for your life with in your time of duty, and after the contact ends. Boot camp was elaborated on as a hard but very profession environment, with an emphasis on core values rather than just pure training. In his 8 years on active duty SSgt Kelly has worked as a Cyber Systems Operator and Supervisor, Directory Services Operator and Supervisor, Boundary Protection Operator and Supervisor, and a Vulnerability Operator and Supervisor. His enlistment contract ends this upcoming October and he plans on commissioning as an Officer by taking the AFROTC program at NAU. Though family life is difficult for all military personnel the Air Force allows up to 30 days of leave per year along as there is enough notice to your absence. When asked the number one question his response was “Absolutely, best decision of my life.”
The United States military has over a million service men and women in all branches and divisions. Every one of those individuals has a decision to make and a path way that was right for them. If you talk to a recruiter to learn more information about a branch that’s vital to knowing what to expect, but if you talk to a recruiter to learn that branch is right for you, its not unlikely to make a 4 years regret. In order to know what’s right for you, you must talk to those that have already lived that life and aren’t trying to sell it to you. Talk to those that will be honest about what’s a benefit and what’s a disadvantage. For example, picking a major or a college, this is a major life decision, it should be something that makes you happy and works for you and you only. The Army is very broad with a vast variety of needs and MOSs. For someone that is unclear on what they may want to do, the Army may have the right option for them. The Navy is an obvious choice for those that love the ocean and coastal living, but also for those who would love to see the world from the bow of a 40-ton ship. The Marine Corps are preferable for those that prefer more of a military career and like to take action. In all this research and effort, it seems for me that the best option has to be the Air Force. With its emphasis on technology and progression the Air Force appears to fit my needs the best as it prepares Airmen for military duty and civilian life. The United States military is a noble gateway for over a million American citizens and provides a sense of pride knowing your commitment to your country. Make sure to take the time and learn what military branch is right for you.
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