Getting advice from dads can help us with many questions in life. Joining the military is one of those topics dads can help you decide the right path. My dad played an important role in my life. He pushed me to do things that I wouldn’t have done. I truly believe he is the reason I joined the military. When I told him about my desire to join he drove me to the recruiting station at the Air National Guard to meet with his friend. At first, I didn’t realize how valuable that was. But after talking to other women who were discouraged by their parents I realize how lucky I was to have someone who believed and supported me.
That is why this week on the podcast I had Ben Killoy talk about Fatherhood. Ben and I had a deep conversation about the transition out of the military. It made me realize my experience wasn’t wrong, different or abnormal. We had so many commonalities that I realized I can actually relate to veterans. All veterans.
I’m a pretty regular listener to his podcast, the Military Veteran Dad and even though I’m not a dad I walk away from each interview or Fatherhood Friday inspired to be a better mom and person. I learn so much. I thought sharing the wisdom I had learned from him would be a perfect way to have him on the podcast.
But I didn’t want to end with the podcast.
I also wanted to share more advice from other veteran dads. So I asked the question: What advice would you give your son or daughter if they were considering joining the military?
This is what they said:
When it comes time to have that conversation about joining the military, a big question I will ask is how much do you feel you know who you are? Do you feel you called towards something? Do you feel like you need more life experience to understand your purpose and passions?
The Military is a tool just like college to refine your thinking, discover more about who you are, and how you can help the world. I will lead them to wonder if they need to dig deeper to understand the next right step. If yes then the Military is a great place. – Ben Killoy, The Military Veteran Dad Podcast
Go to school first and get your degree, then go in as an officer.
That’s the advice my dad gave me when I first talked to him about joining. I didn’t listen and instead got my bachelor’s after enlisting and completing my initial enlistment. On one hand, my military experience likely would have been drastically different as an officer than it was as an enlisted member. However, on the other hand, I can guarantee I got more out of college starting at 23 than I would have if I went to college straight out of high school at 18. – John McWilliams, US Air Force, Lone Survivor Foundation
Not a father but army veteran my main word of advice is that when you sign on the dotted line on service to the country you have basically written a check. Up to and including your life in the defense of the country and protection of freedom. And it may come to giving your life for those freedoms. Always remember all gave some and some gave all. – Edward Ziots, US Army
If my children were considering joining the military, I’d ask them to view it as one of the single greatest commitments of their lives.
That to be a completely effective service member, they’ll have to go all in. It will be difficult and rewarding in nearly equal measure. Go to every school your branch of service is willing to send you to (for your unit, occupation, rank, etc.), and pick up additional duty identifiers when possible. The standing advice I have for my children is that they get out there and serve. Whether it’s the Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, United Way or the US Military – I want them to step out of their comfort zones and find that experience that makes them grateful to be alive every day. – Daniel Hughes, US Army, Randstad
I will never regret making to decision to join,
but my advice to my son and daughter would depend on a few factors. If some of the issues we see now with the VA, as well as the ability to transition to the civilian world are in a better state, I would be supportive. I have a long way to go before they are at the age where they can make that decision. I would want to ensure that they would not face the same issues that veterans face today. – Jason Goroff, US Army
Just join the Air Force. – Rick Forristall, US Air Force
Are you a dad? What advice would you add to the list?
Research, research, research!
Before you jump into any program, any branch, any MOS, or rating speciality. Research it to death to figure out what you really want to do. I was an Intel instructor for 4 years and so many students I had were initially horribly disappointed to find out they would’ve been James or Jane Bond. There are tons of resources to find this out. Sometimes videos on YouTube. There are also plenty of folks on social media from Instagram to Facebook to LinkedIn to Reddit. You can reach out to and find out what a day in the life is like and if it’s for you.
Strongly consider if you want to be an officer or enlisted. The transition to an officer from enlisted is far from impossible but it is not as easy as many recruiters would have you believe. If you enlist, you can and should if you desire to pursue officer programs to the fullest. But understand there’s a decent likelihood you spend your entire first contract as enlisted.
This life is not for everyone.
DO NOT join thinking you’ll just get to be a badass. No matter what service or which occupation you join in the military you will start out as a veritable nobody. Gain some humility, listen more than you talk, and thicken your skin. If you want to join you need to check your ego at the door.
Think about what you want out of your young life and if the military fits that. Do you want to learn responsibility, see new places, learn new skills, meet new people, and serve something bigger than yourself? Then the military may be for you? Do you want near total personal freedom, relaxation, easy times, and don’t want to be ever yelled at or told what to do? The military isn’t for you.
Be ready to give it all. If you decide to join this is not a summer job, this is not Enterprise Rent-A-Car. You are signing a blank check for literally your life. It’s a very serious decision. Don’t take it lightly. And if you make the leap, don’t look back. One of the saddest things in the Navy was when I saw guys and gals dropping out or getting kicked out in boot camp. It’s a difficult time but it’s not the end of the world, not worth quitting. – Luke Shabro, US Navy