For students, the decision to join the military can be a difficult one.
We asked 12-year Army Veteran and Army Master Recruiting Trainer Sgt. Joey Zajonczkoski, as well as Sgt. Chicardo Sims who has been in the Marine Corps for 10 years (he currently works in Operational Communications), to give us answers to some of the questions students have about the process of joining the military.
Q: What are the requirements necessary to join the military?
Sgt. Zajonczkoski: There is a physical requirement that entails an extensive full physical exam and the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which tests your mental qualifications and determines your job placement. There is also a required legal background check.
Sgt. Sims: Recruits must be between the ages of 17-28, be a U.S. citizen or legal resident, be a high school graduate or on track to graduate from high school within the next year. In addition, recruits can have no criminal felony charges or convictions, no more than three dependents, no history of serious medical conditions, and no more than four tattoos.
Q: How should students talk to their family about their decision to join the military?
Sgt. Zajonczkoski: The best thing to do is get with a good recruiter. Have that recruiter sit with the family and give all of the facts. That’s what they are trained to do.
Q: Can students attend college and enlist in the military at the same time? If so, do they offer any kind of financial assistance?
Sgt. Zajonczkoski: There are a few programs from ROTC that give 100 percent tuition assistance while in college; my own bachelor’s degree in science has been funded completely by the Army. The Army National Guard also offers Reserve opportunities that help pay for school.
Sgt. Sims: The Marine Corps Reserves gives students an opportunity to attend school full time and serve in the Marine Corps with local reserve units. Financial assistance is offered through the Reserve GI Bill and active duty Marines have Tuition Assistance that pays 100 percent of your education. Active duty members also receive the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which pays 100 percent of your tuition after 36 months of service.
Q: How can students turn their military experience into a career or contribute to their future goals?
Sgt. Sims: The ASVAB determines what jobs you qualify for in the military, and you get to pick what you want to do from there. You develop real world experience in your fields of interest along with intangible character traits like leadership, self-reliance and self-discipline.
Q: What kind of preparations will students have to make after they are accepted into the military?
Sgt. Zajonczkoski: They become part of the Future Soldier Training Program where their recruiter will ensure they are prepared for their future with the military.
Sgt. Sims: The Marine Corps has a Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which allows young people to commit to becoming a Marine while postponing recruit training for up to 365 days. DEP allows you to stay at home and prepare for the rigors of recruit training with the guidance, direction and support of your Marine Corps recruiter. You will start an individual physical training program and begin to learn Marine Corps history, traditions and terminology.