This week on the Women of the Military Podcast I’m answering What Branch Should You Join? And my friend Kerri Jeter from Freedom Sisters Podcast helped me share her wisdom in this week’s blog post. So check out why she says, “Go Army, join the Coast Guard.”
Go Army, join the Coast Guard
Joining the military is not only a big decision to make in one’s life, but it is a choice that will impact you based on the branch you choose to join. I think this is even more so important when a woman is choosing to answer the call to service. In my opinion, the most crucial items to consider are the following: career path and safety. So without further ado, let’s break this down!
First, consider what career you want and select the branch that aligns with that the most. The Air Force and Space Force is known for technology opportunities along with highly advanced training for futuristic skills. The Army is the main ground force and the primary branch that protects and defends; if you are not infantry, your job will be supporting the troops on the ground. The Navy is primarily on the water and has a lot of high tech job opportunities. The Marines are geared for fighting and training, so if you love the outdoors, this branch would be the route to go.
Although we live in the 21st century and so many jobs have some level of technology in the details, most lower enlisted find themselves cleaning, landscaping, pulling guard, training, and getting into trouble. The Coast Guard is actually not a part of the Department of Defense unless activated in war, their jobs mostly law enforcement related. While all the branches have a specialized skill set, they all require human resources, financial experts, administrative jobs, customer service jobs (cooks, laundry, fitness, mechanics), and even music opportunities.
Women need to consider all things: safety and well being
Second, especially for women who want to join, you have to consider all things safety and overall well-being of how service members are treated within that branch. It is disheartening that servicewomen get treated differently than our brothers-in-arms, but it’s a true reality we must discuss. Let’s talk about history for a quick moment, women have been standing up to serve the United States since the Revolutionary War. Yet the valor of women is minimalized. You have to be mindful of this culture if you want to join.
That is my advice, but here is what I did. I joined the U.S. Army National Guard in December 2005, with only one thing in mind…to provide for my family and get a secure job on post. I walked into a job interview with a blazer and was greeted by a traditional military board. Somehow, I was selected over other members who were already in the Guard and shipped off to basic training in a whirlwind.
I learned a great deal in my 12-year career.
I climbed the ladder very quickly, I went from being a Private First Class to Captain in 6 very short, very intense years. And I was ‘voluntold’ to branch Finance and later crossed over into Public Affairs. I have seen the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in the Army. And even though, I never feared for my safety but I did find myself in uncomfortable situations.
I have worked in Joint Operations Environments giving me a unique perspective to have experienced all branch culture.
While I was deployed in the Middle East we conducted deck landing qualifications with the Navy. As Public Affairs Officer (PAO) I was able to document and produce media. Although, that was amazing, what I remember most about the Navy is the Officer Mess Hall. We ate on real porcelain plates, had real silverware, and placed our made-to-order meals like we were at a fine restaurant in the middle of the Persian Gulf.
When at my Qualifications course for PAO, I met this female Marine who showed me the best and fastest way to tie my boots ( I had already been in 7-years at that point) and her genius hack simplified my morning routine considerably. But when I encountered Marines downrange, I thought them to mistreat their lower enlisted and I didn’t quite understand their bully-tactics.
I worked on an Air Force Base for the first 3-years of my career and they had the nicest amenities.
Air Force women were allowed women to wear ponytails and earrings in the Physical Fitness Uniform. When deployed, I would be required to go to U.S. Army Central Command (ARCENT) forward headquarters in Kuwait, which was adjacent to the Air Force headquarters. I loved going to the Air Force side since it was the only place I could get an ice-cold root beer. I would take it back to my Camp and pour it over ice cream….there was always loads of ice cream on my deployment. (Thanks Baskin Robbins)!
But the Coast Guard (CG) piqued my interest
I had some CG Colleagues in my class at the Defense Information School (DINFOS) and I was utterly impressed with how the women were treated. They were ladies first then Coast Guardsmen, whereas every other branch of service that is not the case. I liked that mindset and the interaction I witnessed between the CG members.
When all is said and done, I am very proud of my Army service. It was the best investment I could have done for myself and my family. If I was to give my honest opinion of which branch to pick, I would have to say Coast Guard. The assignment locations are amazing. The professionalism and quality of life is unmatched by any other branch. And although under the Department of Homeland Security, Coast Guardsmen still receive full military benefits.
Kerri Jeter, on mission to amplify Women Veterans
Kerri served 12-years in the US Army, held the prestigious title of Ms. Veteran America 2015, and is a leading advocate for her Sisters-in-Service. Combining her skills in Public Information, Leadership, and Creativity, Kerri founded Freedom Sisters Media to champion change for Women Veterans. Freedom Sisters is a faith-based multimedia company that addresses social, political, and spiritual issues with a Woman Veteran perspective. We are a tiny media company with a MIGHTY vision to grow! Kerri loves God, coffee, and good stories. She is a mother of 5 children and a wife to a 26-year Army Veteran. Find out more, here.