5 Military Myths Busted

Specialist performs maintenance on a vehicle
David Olson, a specialist in the California Army National Guard, conducts maintenance on a vehicle on Contingency Operating Base in Speicher, Iraq, March 31, 2009. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Emily Suhr)

Many misconceptions and myths about the military are floating around out there. Often when I run into people and tell them that I am in the military, I spend most of my time busting myths about the military. Here are five common ones.

Myth #1

If you get in trouble with the law, then your only option is the military. Ever heard the old saying, "Go to jail or go to the military?"


This is probably as far from the truth as you can get. The military actually has to know about any run-ins with the law, no matter how minor. All military branches run FBI background checks on prospective members. However, just because you have a glitch in your past doesn't mean you can't join the military. Commanders can authorize waivers for certain offenses, although approved waivers will make some jobs unavailable because they require security clearances. This means the member will have access to classified and/or top-secret information, and that access requires top-secret security clearances. If you have a glitch in your past, check with your local recruiter to see whether a waiver is possible.

Myth #2

The military's benefits and pay are not competitive with the civilian world.


The military offers very competitive pay and benefit packages. Entry-level pay and benefits are hands down superior to entry-level jobs in the civilian sector. Just try to find an entry-level job that starts at $1,300/month and pays for food, housing, medical, education, 30 days of vacation and many more benefits.

Myth #3

Women have a hard time achieving success in the military.


All jobs in the military are open to women, and as of 2019, data from the Defense Department show that women comprise 20% of the Air Force, 19% of the Navy, 15% of the Army and almost 9% of the Marine Corps. Those numbers only have grown over time.

Myth #4

Military training and jobs have little relation to the civilian world.


I get this one quite a bit! The reality is almost all the jobs in the military have direct civilian counterparts. All jobs offer leadership skills needed every day in the civilian world. About 80% of the jobs in the military are non-combat occupations. Many civilian companies seek out military veterans for their work ethic, dedication and leadership skills to fill key positions within their companies.

Myth #5

Going into the military right out of high school means you will not get a college education.


School counselors are good at keeping this myth alive. Although most high school students have good intentions about going to college, many have not come to the reality of how they are going to pay for college. The military fixes this problem. Not only does the military pay up to 100% of college tuition while you serve on active duty, the military also offers the GI Bill (about $36,000) to use for college up to 10 years after leaving the service.

The Air Force actually has the largest community college in the nation called the Community College of the Air Force. Enrollment is automatic when members join the Air Force. Each service has specific voluntary education programs unique to that service, and much of the training obtained in the military is accredited by colleges.

These are just five of the many myths out there about the military. People with good intentions who just don't know any better often start many myths. The military is continually changing and is much different than it was even 10 years ago. To get the facts on today's military, start by talking with a recruiter.

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