Military personnel admittedly do not earn fabulous salaries. But then the money is not why anyone joins - if you are after money, go somewhere else!
That said, military members are rewarded with substantial tangible and intangible benefits. Here are just a few:
Below are a few more details:
Your Cash Rewards!
As an enlisted member, your pay will increase the longer you are in the military, and as you advance in rank. You also benefit from an annual cost-of-living adjustment.
There are 9 levels of enlisted pay in the military. Most people enter the service at E-1, which stands for Enlisted Pay Grade 1. Most people advance to E-4 within about 3 years of service. Below is an example of the annual Regular Military pay for a servicemember at the E-4 pay level, with three years of military service.
Recent Example of Annual Military Pay:
|Unmarried||Married with 2 children|
|Cash for Meals||$3,886.44||$3,886.44|
|Cash or (Equivalent) for Housing*||$10,548.00||$13,932.00|
|Federal Tax Advantage||$4,421.00||$5,412.00|
|Regular Military Compensation||$43,155.44||$47,530.44|
*Estimated average based historical pay and allowance rates.
For more on both enlisted and officer pay, with complete pay tables and other information on special pays you can receive, check out the Pay Overview.
The first reward you may receive for enlisting is a payment called an enlistment bonus. Enlistment bonuses vary from service to and change to meet the needs of the service -- be sure to ask your recruiter about the availability of enlistment bonuses.
Depending on your job and service, you may receive Special Pay. Special Pay is pay given on top of your base salary. Sometimes it is tax-free, as with hazardous duty pay, and sometimes it is not. Examples of Special Pay are hazardous duty pay, career enlisted flyer incentive pay, submarine duty pay, and medical officers special pay. See these topics for more.
Advanced Enlistment Rank
In addition to enlistment bonuses recruiters can offer you the chance to enter the service at a higher pay grade called an Advanced Enlistment Rank. There are 10 enlisted pay levels called pay grades. Most people start out at E-1 (Enlisted Pay grade 1) however qualified enlistees may enter at E-2 or E-3.
You must score high on the Armed Services Vocational Battery (ASVAB) test and meet other criteria to qualify.
Remember: Take an ASVAB practice test as soon as you can. If you can give your recruiter a practice test score, this helps the recruiter pinpoint the benefits and incentives that you qualify for, and focus on the jobs you're suited for. Check out Military.com's ASVAB Test Center for FREE Practice Tests, study guides and tips..
Be sure to ask your recruiter about opportunities for Advanced Enlistment Rank, Student Loan Repayment, enlistment bonuses, and many other incentive programs. You won't know what's available until you ask.
Your Everyday Rewards!
Every day that you serve, the military rewards you by providing you with, housing, meals, vacation, and much more. The following is a list of the major "everyday" rewards you get for serving your country:
30 Days Paid Vacation
Unlike any other job you will find, the U.S. Armed Forces offer their members 30 Days of fully paid vacation (leave) each year, starting the first year of your enlistment. In fact, you can take leave the day after you graduate from basic training!
Vacation for Reserves and Guard
If you are called to temporary active duty (mobilized) as a reserve/guard servicemember you will earn 2.5 days of paid vacation (leave) for each 30 days of Active Duty service.
If you decide to make the military your career, you will be eligible for retirement pay, including continued health benefits and on-base shopping privileges similar to those you enjoyed while on duty. For instance, a 20-year career in the service will often result in retirement in your late 30's. Considering that a typical enlisted retiree will receive over HALF-A-MILLION Dollars in retirement pay alone, a military pension is a great deal and you pay nothing into this it is all part of your rewards for serving!
Pension for Reserves and Guard
If you are in the Reserves you become eligible for retirement when you have served 20 "good years," but you cannot draw your pension until age 60.
You and your family will have medical insurance (TRICARE) for as long as you remain in military service. If you remain in the Military through retirement, your medical benefits will extend throughout your lifetime and that of your spouse.
Health Care for Reserves and Guard
As a reserve you and your family are eligible for health care whenever you are activated, or under special circumstances you may qualify for military health care insurance (TRICARE) at a reduced premium.
As a continuation of the military tradition of providing room and board, meals (rations) are considered part of your pay. While on active duty you will be eligible for free dining services or you will be given an allowance to cover the cost of your meals when dining facilities are not available.
Housing on base is also included as a part of your compensation package. If you are married and on-base housing is not available, or you would like to live off base, a tax-free monthly housing allowance will be provided. The military also pays all travel and expenses for required moves.
Affordable Life Insurance
As an active duty servicemember, you are eligible for $50,000 to $400,000 in life insurance coverage at a cost ranging up to $29.00 a month.
Life Insurance for Reserves and Guard
As a reserve or guard member, you may be eligible for either full-coverage or partial-coverage depending on the type of unit you are assigned to.
Besides getting to see the world while serving your country, you will be eligible for "space available" (or Space A) military flights to almost anywhere in the world at no cost. In addition, you will be able to stay in lodging facilities at any military base and at world-class resorts that are specially created for military personnel, including the Shades of Green? near Walt Disney World and the Hale Koa Hotel on the beach of Waikiki. And that's not even mentioning the special military discounts and fare reductions offered by resorts and airlines all over the world. For more on Space A travel and other military travel benefits, visit the Military.com Travel Center.
Veteran Benefits and Discounts
The benefits of service extend far beyond your active duty or reserve service. The Federal Government and most states offer Veterans Programs for Education, Home Loans, Small Business Loans, Health Care, and more. Many retailers and businesses also offer veteran and servicemember special discounts. For a directory of all the discounts available, check out Military.com's Shopping Center.
The Intangible Rewards!
When you serve in today's military, you learn self-discipline, earn respect, and demonstrate honor and a devotion to duty. The experience, training, and leadership skills you will get in the military are exactly what today's employers are looking for.
You will also experience great satisfaction from knowing that you have proudly done your part in carrying on a tradition of selfless service that dates back over 200 years. In addition you will be joining the ranks of famous veterans who have also served their country like: Mike Anderson (NFL), David Robinson (NBA), Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit), Gene Hackman, Chuck Norris, Road Dogg Jesse James, Montel Williams, Shaggy, and Dennis Franz, just to name a few.
You will also find that your military experience will make you stand out above the rest. You and your family will notice a difference in how you handle adversity, hardship, trials, and confrontation. You will also find that people will come to count on you for your leadership skills and ability to make wise decisions. As you can see, the benefits of military service are enormous. Most American citizens have no idea about the value of the opportunities and experiences you can get for faithfully serving your country.