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The Young Teen Dilemma of Which Service to Join

U.S. Marines with Black Sea Rotational Force fire M240B light machine guns during a live-fire exercise to confirm their zero aboard Mihail Kognalniceanu Air Base, Romania, Feb. 2, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps/ Cpl. Kelly L. Street)

This time of year, high school seniors are making decisions that will affect the next several years of their lives. Thank God there are many who have a calling to serve our country in the Armed Forces. Even if you know you want to serve, there are still a few options that can determine where you will live, how you will serve, and what uniform you will wear. Below is an email from a young man who has excelled in high school and is considering Army or Marine Corps officer programs after graduation:

Dear Stew,

I am a High School Senior who is about to graduate and go to college. I'm trying to decide between the Army ROTC or the NROTC Marine Option. I've known the military was my calling for a long time now and I'm down to the final decision. The Army or the Marine Corps.

If I was to be a Marine, the only thing I would consider doing was Infantry, and if Army maybe infantry or a Ranger Battalion. There are a few things that I also consider though. The NROTC Marine Option is extremely competitive. You must earn a scholarship by the end of your sophomore year or you're booted from the program.

To sum it up I'm stuck. I'm drawn to being a warrior and fighting, but I feel I need to keep my options open for the future. If I join the Army I'm afraid I will regret not being a Marine, and If I become a Marine I'm afraid I will regret not being a Soldier. I would appreciate any advice.

John

John — First of all, thank you for your desire to serve this country. No matter where you are, you will be proud of your future service, I promise.

Personally, I do not think you can go wrong with either option. Both infantry units are exceptional at what they do and are proven warriors. The Army has the Ranger and Special Forces as an option after infantry and, as an officer, you will likely attend Ranger School. The Marines have RECON and MarSOC as a progression if you feel you need to keep moving into different challenges within the Marine Corps. You will have more exposure to the ocean in the Marine Corps, so if that interests you, consider becoming a Marine.

There are several other considerations as well. What region of the country will you likely be living once you graduate? Do you want to be stationed near your childhood home / other family members? If you grew up along the coasts, most of the Navy and Marine Corps bases are in beach towns. Not a bad life! However, the Army tends to place its bases and ranges throughout the United States. Army has Schofield Barracks in Hawaii and Fort Carson in Colorado, and both are beautiful places to live. Don't forget some of the foreign Army bases in Europe and Asia, and the Marine Corps bases in Japan. As you can see, both options offer culturally rich opportunities.

You really cannot go wrong with your choice. In the end, consider what environments you prefer to work in and what regions of the United States and possibly the world you would like to reside.

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Stew Smith Special Operations Fitness Fitness Marine Corps Special Operations Army Special Forces Featured

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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