Answers To Parents' Questions About the Military

The military can prepare service members for careers after they leave the service.
Chief Master-at-Arms Eric Seal attends a free hiring event for service members, veterans and military spouses at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam's Military & Family Support Center on June 22, 2017. (Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Justin Pacheco/U.S. Navy)

Parents want the best for their children -- a meaningful and rewarding career, training and preparation for the future, fun and adventure. Today's military offers all this and more.

How Does the Military Compare with the Private Sector?

The military offers stable but challenging careers with regular promotions and often accelerated responsibility. It provides training in 4,100 specialties, many of which have civilian counterparts. The armed forces also provide leadership experience and training that help people excel if they leave the military following their commitment. Other military benefits include early retirement programs, health and dental care, 30 days of paid vacation each year, veterans benefits, competitive pay and a variety of ways to earn money for college and training.

Do You Have to Be a US Citizen to Join?

To enlist in the armed forces, you must be a citizen or legal resident. To become an officer, you must be a U.S. citizen.

When Is the Next Time I Will See My Child After He Leaves for Boot Camp?

In most cases, you may see your child when they graduate from boot camp. However, this depends on the service and assignment they select.

How Often Will My Child Be Away from Home?

Travel is part of military life. The amount of travel varies greatly from service to service and assignment to assignment. However, some services will guarantee applicants' duty locations if they meet certain qualifications.

Will the Military Prepare My Child for a Civilian Job?

Yes. The armed forces offer more than 4,100 careers, most of which have direct counterparts in the private sector. Additionally, service in the military builds leadership skills and personal responsibility traits that many employers seek in employees. Learn more about translating military skills to civilian jobs.

Can the Military Help My Child Pay for College?

Yes. The military offers a variety of ways to pay for school. Check out these strategies. Or check out's education page for detailed information on the GI Bill programs.

What Is the Difference Between Enlisting and Commissioning?

Enlisting and commissioning (becoming an officer) offer different career paths. Not all jobs are available in both career paths so you should help your children make sure that their interests and abilities are reflected in their choices. Becoming an officer is generally available only to college graduates commissioned through ROTC, one of the service academies or another commissioning program.

How Much Will They Get Paid?

A person may decide to go active duty, reserve or guard. Information about military pay and allowances can be found here.

How Long Is My Child's Commitment?

This depends on what service they choose, what career field they pick and the training they accept. Some enlistment terms are as short as two years.

Could My Child Get Hurt?

Like any job, the possibility for accidents exists and some careers are more physically demanding than others. However, the military makes every effort to ensure that its members are safe.

Are There Medical Benefits?

Members of the military and their families receive outpatient care at military hospitals and clinics at no charge. There is a nominal charge for in-patient care of family members. For families not located near military health facilities, the military medical insurance program (TRICARE) pays 80% to 100% of the costs at civilian hospitals and clinics. Dental care is free to service members. There is a minimal cost for family members.

How Much Vacation Time Will They Earn?

30 days of vacation with pay each year and federal holidays.

How Old Must My Child Be to Enlist?

People must be at least 17 years old to enlist with parental consent. Without parental consent, people must be 18.

What if My Child Wants Out?

Commitment to the military is based on a contract, which means that people are bound legally to serve their term. However, there are some exceptions. If during basic training, a person is found to be grossly incompatible with the military, he or she may receive an administrative discharge for the convenience of the service.

What Sort of Training Will They Receive?

The training that your child receives depends on the chosen service and career path. Training will include job specific proficiency and general military training, such as team building and leadership.

How Can I Help?

Be sure that you help your children think through the process completely. You may want to help them find ways to prepare for the ASVAB (a standardized test used to determine applicants' talents) and to evaluate their choices.

Interested in Joining the Military?

We can put you in touch with recruiters from the different military branches. Learn about the benefits of serving your country, paying for school, military career paths, and more: sign up now and hear from a recruiter near you.

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