Answers To Teacher's Questions About the Military


Questions for Teachers, Counselors, and Coaches

Teachers have a responsibility to prepare young people for the adult and professional future.  Military service is an opportunity to most students and can provide enriching experiences on the way to another career or in a lifetime of service to their country.

These questions help teachers give honest answers to students interested in a military career or guidance to students who teachers think may excel in the armed forces.

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 choose to leave the military following their commitment.  Other benefits that make the military a good choice include: early retirement programs, health and dental care, 30 days paid vacation each year, veterans benefits, competitive pay, and a variety of ways to earn money for college and training.

Will my student be qualified for a civilian job if they get out?

The armed forces offer over 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 look for in employees.

Will my student get money for college?

Yes, if your student enlists and completes their term of service they will qualify for a number of educational benefits, including the Montgomery GI Bill.  Benefits vary by service. For more on the GI Bill see the GI Bill Overview.

What is the difference between enlisting and commissioning?

Enlisting and commissioning (becoming and officer) offer different career paths.  Not all jobs are available in both career paths so you should help your students 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.  

What provisions does the military make to ensure that my student will not be sexually harassed?

The Department of Defense has stringent policies against harassment of any kind.  Training is conducted in well-supervised, and generally safe environments.  More on DoD sexual harassment policies.

How much will my student get paid?

Your student may decide to go active duty, reserve or guard.  Here are the pay scales for each:

How long does my student have to commit for?

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

What medical benefits will my student get?

Members of the military and their families receive outpatient care at military hospitals and clinics at no charge. There is a nominal charge for inpatient care of family members. For families not located near military health facilities, the military medical insurance program (TRICARE) pays 80-100 percent 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 my student get?

Your student will get 30 days of vacation with pay each year, as well as government holidays.

How old does my student have to be to enlist?

Your student must be at least 17 years old to enlist with parental consent. Without parental consent your student must be 18.

Can my student be guaranteed to do the job that they want before they enlist?

In most cases, the military offers qualified applicants guaranteed training assignments.  However, the availability of this program varies based on service need.

What if my student wants out?

Your student's commitment to the military is based on a contract, which means that they are legally bound to serve their term. However in some cases, if during basic training they are found to be grossly incompatible with the military they may receive an administrative discharge for the convenience of the service.

What sort of training will they receive?

The training that your student receives depends on the service and career path that they select.  Training will include both job-specific proficiency and general military training like team building and leadership.

How can I help?

Be sure that you help your students think through the process completely.  You may want to help students find ways to prepare for the ASVAB (a standardized test used to determine applicants talents) and to evaluate their choice.  Visit's ASVAB section for more details and a practice test.

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