Men and women serve in the U.S.
Armed Forces for a variety of reasons. Some consider
military service a matter of family tradition or patriotic
duty. Others want to further their education or see the
world. Still others seek the kind of character-building
challenges that the armed services offer.
For many people, military service provides
all of these things, and more: Another draw for
prospective servicemembers is the chance to gain hands-on
experience. The military trains people for numerous
occupations that have civilian counterparts, such as air
traffic controller, plumber, and paramedic. It may help
their job search later, too. In August 2005, the
unemployment rate for veterans (3.9 percent) was slightly
lower than the unemployment rate for the labor force as a
whole (4.6 percent), according to data from the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But joining the armed services is a
serious commitment. Signing a contract obliges service for
a specified number of years—and, unlike other employers,
the U.S. Armed Forces offer no option to walk away before
that contractual period ends. And there’s always the
possibility of combat.
In other words, this high-quality training
comes with some pretty strong strings attached.
If you’re considering military enlistment as a
career-training strategy, this article is for you. It
begins with a section describing some of the training
opportunities in the U.S. Armed Forces. The next section
provides information on decisions related to joining,
followed by a section describing life in the armed
services. Finally, there are sources of additional
Download the PDF
(397K) of the entire article.