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Gearing Up for Graduation

No matter which of the services you decide to join, your ultimate goal is to graduate from military basic training and begin your new life as a valuedmember of America's armed forces.

Military basic training graduation is no small thing. The event rivals anything you may have gone through during your high school, or even college, graduation ceremony. As a very minimum, the event will include a formal military parade, where your family and loved ones can gape at you in your new military dress uniform as you march by in all your military splendor.

In some branches, you get a day or two on the town, while in other branches, you go immediately on leave (vacation time). For those who get leave immediately following basic training, you're usually allowed only a week or two before you have to proceed to your first duty assignment. In any event, graduation day is a day you'll remember and cherish for the rest of your life.

Basic Training Does Not a Career Make

Assuming that you graduate, basic training is just the beginning of your military experience. Many recruits will leave basic training and proceedimmediately to their military job school. A few may get a little time off after basic to go home and visit family and friends. Some may proceed directlyfrom basic training to their first military duty station, getting their job trainingon the job, or delaying specific military job training for a future date.

Each military branch has different policies, and within those policies, there is room for specific individual career paths.

Basic Training Can Be a Rewarding Experience

People frequently ask what they can do to win an award in basic training. Those who try for an award rarely win one. Usually, those who win the awards arethose who do their very best without even thinking about it.

However, depending on the branch, you can earn several awards during your basic training experience. Did you know that you can earn a military medal just for graduating from basic training? It's true. It's called the National Defense Service Medal, and it's awarded to those who volunteer to serve in the military during times of conflict.

Other basic training awards are based on doing specific things better than anyone else. All the branches have an honor graduate or distinguished graduate program, which recognizes the recruits who had the best overall performance during basic training. Some branches even make a competition out of almost every single aspect of basic training. The Army rewards the top soldier during each training cycle with the Soldier of the Cycle award for each basic training company. Others offer only a few rewards and reserve those for the basic training graduation ceremony.

From Basic Training for Dummies, copyright © 2011 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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