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Benefits of joining the military


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Purely as a topic for discussion.

 

I have met quite a few US ex-military in Thailand, (no, not the secret ops guys in the bars..).  It seems that they are onto a good deal, with early retirement, good pension, financial support to study at college, medical cover etc etc.

 

I'm not sure of the benefits for ex-military of other countries, such as my own UK.  But on the face of it, unless you are a front-line soldier, it does seem to be a good career move for a young person to join the military, especially since the job opportunities in civvie street seem rather limited and college fees rather high.

 

Can any ex-military comment on this?  

 

[sarcasm]

Should I join the military?  Do they have a category for mature applicants (58 years old?).

[/sarcasm]

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Similar for UK regards training, medical etc, though pensions probably not as good for lower ranks nowadays. Definitely a good option for school-leavers though, and even as 6th form/uni alternative, since further training options are typically very good. Also the camaraderie aspect and travel (navy especially). Those with transferable skills (engineering etc) often get first refusal on civvy jobs after they've done their time. But yes you're about 23 years too late for the army.

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My youngest lad joined the Royal Navy after 18 months on the dole and no sniffs of a job.

 

He ended up servicing rotary-wing aircraft (that's helicopters to us mortals) for the Royal Marines (did his bit in Afghanistan) and later the Fleet Air Arm (looking after search and rescue aircraft).

 

Now he's out in civvy street and has hooked a job with a company that leases private helicopters and business jets, he has the helicopter certificates and his employer is training him up on small jets.

 

A job he enjoys and, whilst the money isn't brilliant just now, the career path looks rosy.

 

No way he would be where he is without the military.

 

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My 2 daughters in the UK are currently going through university - I admit that I tried to influence their choice of degree course, to try to increase their chance of gaining employment after they graduate.

 

Personally, I went down the route of vocational training (HND radio comms), then the academic route (BSc and MSc in comms field).  It took 7 years of study in total, and landed me a good job at the end of it - I'm still covered by the UK Official Secrets Act!

 

But I'm not fully convinced that following the university degree route and then into civvie street is the best option nowadays.  (Of course, it also depends upon the abilities and interests of the individual).

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I joined the RAF aged 17, always wanted to! Started apprenticeship at RAF Halton as an aircraft technician and graduated 2 and half years later. Around 1974 joined the Harrier force and served in Germany (2 tours).

The Harrier force took me to Norway, Denmark, Belize and the Falkland Islands (just after the "conflict"), managed quite a number of other detachments as well.

I also served 4 years with the Nimrod fleet in the North of Scotland and spent 4 very enjoyable years back at Halton as an instructor, so overall; I travelled quite well, saw lots of the world at the Queens expense and learned a worthwhile trade. However, after 24 years of aircraft work, I wanted something different, so I spent my resettlement money on learning the pub trade which served me quite well for the next 9 years, but pub life, whilst lots of fun, is tiring and time off (without getting ripped off), is hard to manage.

When an opportunity to work at RAF Cranwell came along, I took it, aircraft work again, but it got me away from the pub. Whilst there I was given the chance to work in Oman as an instructor in their Air force training college. I intended to work for maybe 2 or 3 years, put a bit of cash back into the account then return to the UK, never happened! 14 years later and with nothing much left at home and strong connections in Thailand, I retired here, and, generally, very happy.

So, to the OP, would I advise someone today to join the military? Without a shadow of doubt, but the military today is not what it was when I joined, travel opportunities are limited, and, whereas I was encouraged to stay for 22+ years to gain a pension, todays military seem happy to let people go after 12 years. Cannot comment about promotion as so many changes since I left as a Chief Technician.

As for advice, get the best schooling possible and try to enter the military as an Officer, they really do look after their own! Take every opportunity to do day release courses which the military will encourage, and, if like me you work with aircraft (or any professional trade), study for as many civilian qualifications as possible. A licenced aircraft engineer commands good money and can work all over the world.

So, briefly, why not join the military, enjoy it, it is a good life but from the moment you enlist, work towards the day you retire, get as much from it as you can. That might sound rather mercenary but if the chances are on offer, you would be silly to ignore them.

Sorry this has turned out longer than I had intended but I wanted to give as full an answer as possible based upon my own service career.

Good Luck! Planemad

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 UK armed forces.Early retirement! Forced after 22yrs unless an officer then for some strange reason they can serve to 55! Good pension (they say a free non contributory however due to the pittance your paid some would dispute that) if you get up to at least sgt rank. Medical once leaving nothing at all. Courses on leaving yes basicaly you can do a few months training paid for to a certain extent. Theres an unwriten understanding its called the armed forces covenant which sucsessive goverments have iether ignored or forgotten about.

Would i do it all over sgain in a heart beat why! Because thats what i wanted to do from the age of 8. The other overiding factor is the oppo's you make life time friendships. I have 2 brothers by the same mother and 4500 brothers with other mothers. OAMAAM

Edited by jeab1980
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I joined the army (country next to yours) at the age of 17. Disastrous decision on my part. It was an Army of many chiefs and no Indians and if by any chance you were a bit more intellegent than the chiefs (not hard to do as many came up through the ranks with little education) ....they had it in for you.

   The biggest task the average soldier had daily was to figure out the best way to "doss" all day without getting caught.

  Going from that into "civie" life was a bit of a shock to the system.

    I think now it has improved as a good education background is now required to sign up.

PS....I hope so, that was 51 years ago when I joined up. I was serving petrol in a petrol station at 17 years of age. This Sargent pulled in and asked me "why don't you join the Army"....and eventually talked me into it with great stories of adventure (with a mop as it turned out).

  I later discovered that if you got a man to sign up you got a 10 pounds bonus.

PPS. It wasn't all bad, I took away something that stood to me for life........I learned how to sew.

Edited by dotpoom
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21 hours ago, daveAustin said:

Similar for UK regards training, medical etc, though pensions probably not as good for lower ranks nowadays. Definitely a good option for school-leavers though, and even as 6th form/uni alternative, since further training options are typically very good. Also the camaraderie aspect and travel (navy especially). Those with transferable skills (engineering etc) often get first refusal on civvy jobs after they've done their time. But yes you're about 23 years too late for the army.

My mum signed the official secrets act! Its true. We lived in a place called Lewisham SE13, as kids. Our flat was very near Blackheath.My mate, Teddy and me, used to go knocking on doors, asking to do odd jobs ( my god, the risks we put our selves under, considering nowadays)The houses on the road to the heath were old Victorian houses, and some of the inhabitants were quite well off.If they had a car outside, they were well off. One day, we knocked on the door of a big place at the top of the hill. To my complete shock and Horror, my mum answered the door.She told us, in no uncertain terms to "bugger off" and she would see me at home.When she got home, around 1 pm, she explained that she had taken a cleaning job for the Barracks at Woolwich.She had been seconded to a Major, and her job was to be his 'lady who did', three days a week.Due to his ranking and position at the Barracks, she had to sign the OSA.

 Apparently, years after she had stopped working, my dad used to remind her that she was still under the OSA and if she let anything slip, he would see that she was arrested and sent to Gaol. She never told my dad a thing, all the 40,odd years they were together.He sed to get mildly pissed off when she refused to discuss anything. That Major would have been dust by then, but that was my mum,bless her.

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I met the boss of the CBI (Confederate of British Industry) once - he said the people they liked best were ex-Military. The discipline, the training in skills (be it a trade, or leadership). Just being punctual he said!! He said he'd take e.g. a Sandhurst-trained guy over a University grad any day. The RAF Apprentice  scheme was second to none. The British Army and the Royal Navy are tops too.

 

Our foul politicians (Jezza!!) are doing their level best to screw the Services. The Tories are only marginally better!

 

I was in the military (RAF pilot) for 17 years, I owe it a debt I can never repay. I look back on it and think how damn lucky I was.

 

 

Edited by Altalake
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I spent 3 years With the US Army as s member of the "Golden Knights" (freefall) Parachute Team (or as my father said. "That's not the Army -- that's Hollywood.)  We trained often with the British "Red Devils."

   So during the Vietnam war I narrated air shows in 110 different US cities in 42 states. My training had been as a photojournalist. After an 8 yr break, I spent 23 yrs in the Reserves ("territorials") -- one weekend per month and 2 wks during the summer -- with one VOLUNTARY yr in Bosnia as part of a NATO Peacekeeping force. Then 5 yrs as a full-time Active Reservist.

   Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY!!!

   You can retire as a Reservist or on Active Duty after 20 years. Immediately 50% of your base pay (or age 60 as a Reservist), free Space Available flights on military aircraft anywhere in the world, nearly free ($250 yr) medical care, including OVERSEAS (or free at Veterans hospitals), 4 yrs paid college WITH housing & textbook allowance, ability to buy a home with no money down, access to resort stays at $250/wk per ROOM (not per person), access to military commissaries (30% off on most groceries), 30 days annual paid vacation (while on Active Duty) and sooo many other bennies. You must join reserves or Active Duty by age 35. Must retire by age 60 (65 for officers). 

   Others have said it: Comradery, service, sense of purpose, a disciplined workforce, etc.

   If you have a youngster, tell them to serve at least one tour (3 yrs.)

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On 22/05/2017 at 3:56 PM, planemad said:

I joined the RAF aged 17, always wanted to! Started apprenticeship at RAF Halton as an aircraft technician and graduated 2 and half years later. Around 1974 joined the Harrier force and served in Germany (2 tours).

 

The Harrier force took me to Norway, Denmark, Belize and the Falkland Islands (just after the "conflict"), managed quite a number of other detachments as well.

 

 

I also served 4 years with the Nimrod fleet in the North of Scotland and spent 4 very enjoyable years back at Halton as an instructor, so overall; I travelled quite well, saw lots of the world at the Queens expense and learned a worthwhile trade. However, after 24 years of aircraft work, I wanted something different, so I spent my resettlement money on learning the pub trade which served me quite well for the next 9 years, but pub life, whilst lots of fun, is tiring and time off (without getting ripped off), is hard to manage.

 

 

When an opportunity to work at RAF Cranwell came along, I took it, aircraft work again, but it got me away from the pub. Whilst there I was given the chance to work in Oman as an instructor in their Air force training college. I intended to work for maybe 2 or 3 years, put a bit of cash back into the account then return to the UK, never happened! 14 years later and with nothing much left at home and strong connections in Thailand, I retired here, and, generally, very happy.

 

 

So, to the OP, would I advise someone today to join the military? Without a shadow of doubt, but the military today is not what it was when I joined, travel opportunities are limited, and, whereas I was encouraged to stay for 22+ years to gain a pension, todays military seem happy to let people go after 12 years. Cannot comment about promotion as so many changes since I left as a Chief Technician.

 

As for advice, get the best schooling possible and try to enter the military as an Officer, they really do look after their own! Take every opportunity to do day release courses which the military will encourage, and, if like me you work with aircraft (or any professional trade), study for as many civilian qualifications as possible. A licenced aircraft engineer commands good money and can work all over the world.

 

So, briefly, why not join the military, enjoy it, it is a good life but from the moment you enlist, work towards the day you retire, get as much from it as you can. That might sound rather mercenary but if the chances are on offer, you would be silly to ignore them.

 

 

Sorry this has turned out longer than I had intended but I wanted to give as full an answer as possible based upon my own service career.

 

 

Good Luck! Planemad

 

Plane mad I would be surprised if we haven't met in our previous lives. I was on TSW mid to late 70s and at the Depot Seeb 86/98. The military as a career is certainly worth thinking about but you need the educational qualifications to make the most of it.

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Having grown up in a military family (dad was an army man) I was no big fan of the services. I was a complete suburban a'hole in high school and during two years of low level jobs afterwards. At 19 in 1969 I was drafted and not happy to be going (probably to Vietnam I suspected). Where did the army in it's infinite wisdom send a suburban smart ass like me? To San Francisco. I lived at the Presidio, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and worked at APO SF downtown. 

Something the army did that amazed me was to give a job to someone who had no experience and maybe no aptitude for the job and you did it because "that's an order". One day a sargent said to me "you're the new bus driver for your shift, go to the motor pool and get a license, two hours latter I was a licensed military bus driver. So every work night I drove the whole shift up Lombard, right on Van Ness, left on Bawdway (yes Bawdway), then a right over to the APO. Eight hours later the reverse. I can tell you that was a big confidence builder.

My main point is that I went into the military a snarky little twit and underwent a complete attitude adjustment. I went to college on the GI Bill and four years later graduated from UC Berkeley. I immediately set out on an exiting and enjoyable career which lasted until 2007 when I sold my business and retired. I'm not saying the army is responsible for where I am now but but it's certainly part of the reason, and I really like where I am now.

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I joined the U.S. Marine Corps in '79 and only stayed 4 years. If I had stayed I would have retired with 30 years of service already and had a nice pension. I've done okay for myself with only 6 years left to retire from Ford Motor Company with a pension but I would say the military is a good way to go for young men and women. Glad I did it even for a short while. It influenced me greatly and made me who I am today.

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A good friend of mine, English, spent his full career in the REME. I never quite understood their relation with/position in the Regular Army, but he was extremely positive about it, except for a couple of tours in Aden which were brutal. Biggest benefit is educational. He got training in several branches of engineering, which led to good employment in civvie street. Mention of "early retirement" is, I think, a little misleading. In the U.S. Army you can retire after 20 years at 50% of "base" pay. That's about 1/3 the amount you're taking home while you're on active duty, but you're getting to a point where running up and down hills carrying 80 pounds or more is pretty hard. If you're in an administrative field or reach a high enough enlisted rank you would probably choose to stay longer, but few enlisted persons stay longer than 30 years. Most soldiers find another career after they "retire," and government civil service is a favorite if they can qualify (veterans get extra points toward their evaluation). I don't really know how the life is now. I retired in 1982 when the "all volunteer Army" was just beginning and in those days it was rare for an enlisted man to spend more than maybe six years out of 20 overseas, much less in combat, unlike today.

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Someone doesn't need to have served a career in the U.S. military to continue to receive benefits from the VA, although they can make it very difficult.  I've assisted many expats here in Thailand who are trying to survive on low Social Security income and don't realize they qualify the the VA Supplemental Low Income Pension available for veterans who served during wartime periods.  So, if someone served during the Vietnam era (even without actually going to Vietnam) they're eligible for this program.  http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/vetpen.asp 

 

This pension can be especially helpful if someone becomes disabled, say from a stroke or dementia, and qualifies for a higher supplement because they can be certified as "Housebound".  Medical expenses can be covered, also. 

 

One nice feature is the widow's pension.  It's a little over $600 per month and a foreign widow can collect without ever having lived in the U.S.

 

It's important that every U.S. veteran gets himself organized while he's still capable if it's likely his wife will need to apply for this widow's pension.  He should obtain his DD214 military service records and all records of previous marriages and divorces.  And help his wife obtain an ITIN (taxpayer I.D. number, similar to a Social Security number), so she can open a Bangkok Bank direct deposit account for deposit of the widow's pension when the time comes.

 

Remember, however, this is a supplemental pension, so if someone already has income in excess of the amount of the pension or is in a good position with assets like savings and an expensive house, then the pension will not be awarded.

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5 hours ago, NancyL said:

Someone doesn't need to have served a career in the U.S. military to continue to receive benefits from the VA, although they can make it very difficult.  I've assisted many expats here in Thailand who are trying to survive on low Social Security income and don't realize they qualify the the VA Supplemental Low Income Pension available for veterans who served during wartime periods.  So, if someone served during the Vietnam era (even without actually going to Vietnam) they're eligible for this program.  http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/vetpen.asp 

I would add to NancyL's very informative post that many former reservists who were given "Early out's", short of their 2 years active duty requirement and subsequently denied bebefits (as I was)  now have recourse to receive benefits, though not retroactively.

It was finally determined to have been a conspiracy by the regular service branches to avoid paying benefits to reservists.

For instance, such veterans are now eligble for full VA Health care.

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And, there's the "VA Agent Orange Program" for vets who served in Vietnam, parts of Thailand and Korea while agent orange was used by the military.  The vet doesn't have to prove that they were actually exposed to agent orange, just that they served in the area at the time agent orange was used.  There is a presumption of exposure.

 

If they are diagnosed with any of a rather long list of diseases, some fairly common in older men, then they can claim VA compensation.  The list includes prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes.

 

http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp

 

It's my understanding that the care can be received here in Thailand with expenses reimbursed by the VA, although I've not guided anyone through this process.  At the advice of the local VFW, I filed a claim for Hubby who was in Vietnam at the time agent orange was used and has stubbornly high PSA readings.  So far, no biopsy has shown cancer, but the VFW person recommended opening a claim, even without filing any expenses, just so there is a case number on record.  He said the claim will be kept on file for five years and will reduce the time of getting reimbursed for payment in the future by about three months if we do actually have to submit a claim for reimbursement.  Don't know if this is true, but I've submitted VA claims for Low Income Pensions for other people, so it wasn't a big problem to submit an Agent Orange claim for Hubby.   (Yeah, right.  Nice hobby, filing out gov't forms.)

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Benefits - you can a pension when you retire (within a few years), without having to work till 65yrs old. Also you can get fit and bulk up a bit.

 

Cons - you can die or get your legs blown off

 

Personally, I think it's not worth it but that's me :)

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On 5/30/2017 at 11:04 AM, bbi1 said:

Benefits - you can a pension when you retire (within a few years), without having to work till 65yrs old. Also you can get fit and bulk up a bit.

 

Cons - you can die or get your legs blown off

 

Personally, I think it's not worth it but that's me :)

Yes ,only people with good experiences have replied with one or two exceptions .If i had a son i would not want him to join any Army currently .

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On 2017-5-30 at 11:04 AM, bbi1 said:

Benefits - you can a pension when you retire (within a few years), without having to work till 65yrs old. Also you can get fit and bulk up a bit.

 

Cons - you can die or get your legs blown off

 

Personally, I think it's not worth it but that's me :)

Have you served bbi1, most service men I know would do it all again, you certainly come out much wiser than you go in and you probably have as much chance of having your legs blown off in civvy street these days.

Edited by vogie
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10 hours ago, vogie said:

Have you served bbi1, most service men I know would do it all again, you certainly come out much wiser than you go in and you probably have as much chance of having your legs blown off in civvy street these days.

I have not  and Eire never had conscription ,thank God/Buddha  .If i  had have been living in the US i would have been of age to be conscripted for Vietnam ,and everyone knows what a mess that was .

Edited by anto
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5 minutes ago, anto said:

I have not  and Eire never had conscription ,thank God/Buddha  .If i  had have been living in the US i would have been of age to be conscripted for Vietnam ,and everyone knows what a mess that was .

Horses for courses. You are happy and i am happy i served you chose not to no problem. But to come up with "you can die or fet your legs blown off" really!! So the hundreds of innocent civillians who are caught up in bomb blasts or random shootings who lose limbs or worse dont they count then?

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4 minutes ago, jeab1980 said:

Horses for courses. You are happy and i am happy i served you chose not to no problem. But to come up with "you can die or fet your legs blown off" really!! So the hundreds of innocent civillians who are caught up in bomb blasts or random shootings who lose limbs or worse dont they count then?

It was another poster said that .

 

>> i served you chose not to no problem.<<

I pick up some antagonism in that comment .

Edited by anto
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8 minutes ago, anto said:

It was another poster said that .

 

>> i served you chose not to no problem.<<

I pick up some antagonism in that comment .

Well then you pick up wrongly i dont care wether people served or not

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1 hour ago, anto said:

I have not  and Eire never had conscription ,thank God/Buddha  .If i  had have been living in the US i would have been of age to be conscripted for Vietnam ,and everyone knows what a mess that was .

The topic is not really about getting bogged down in Vietnam, its about the benefits of joining the military, to which there are many. Not all will enjoy or even cope with the lifestyle, but many will. Someone with little or no social skills will soon learn them, if you can't get on with your fellow men, you will have problems, the military is all about teamwork. The skills you can learn in the military are many and will serve you well when you decide to become ex military.

Many youngsters do not have a great start in life, ie problems at home with dysfunctional families etc, and the military is a great way to start a new life. 

 

Edited by vogie
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>>. Not all will enjoy or even cope with the lifestyle, but many will.<<

 

It suits a certain type of person .A lot of bullying goes on in every Army  ,which was hidden before and is now more out in the open .Its not for sensitive Souls .

Edited by anto
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2 minutes ago, anto said:

>>. Not all will enjoy or even cope with the lifestyle, but many will.<<

 

It suits a certain type of person .A lot of bullying goes on in every Army  ,which was hidden before and is now more out in the open .

In my many years in the service only once did i see any bullying. In my part of HM armed forces bullying was not only outlawed but activly dealt with by oppo's. 

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