Choosing to Enlist in the Military

Dillon Carr, Staff Writer

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   In today’s society, college is often pushed as the best, and sometimes only, option. However, this is far from the truth. Many students might find meaning in an alternate path, such as the military.

   Often, college is too expensive to attend, which makes going straight into the workforce seem to be a better option. Joining a branch of the United States Military can be a perfect in-between. According to a website about military pay grades, new military recruits (E-1) earn a monthly base salary of 1,417 dollars per month for the first four years and then get bumped to 1,532 dollars per month (work.chron.com). For students that choose to enlist as soon as they graduate, that is a lot of money to be earned.

   According to website about enlisted pay grades, most people enlist for four years, putting them at a pay grade of E-4 (quora.com). According to the Military Pay Chart, an E-4’s base salary pay is 2,664 dollars, on top of multiple benefits and tax breaks (militarybenefits.info). Some other benefits may include Combat Pay, where service members are eligible to have their combat pay, which is an extra payment bonus given to troops that are assigned to combat or hostile areas, partially or fully tax free. The military can also provide a housing allowance, cover some moving expenses, and offer more tax help.

   Having prior military experience can play a huge role in post-military life. For example, the Navy offers a program to medically-interested soldiers in which their hours on the field can go towards a Bachelors or Associates degree in the medical field (navy.com). This gives the veteran an extra advantage if they wish to further expand their education after service. It shortens university time and avoids rehash of what the veteran already knows.

   According to the Veterans’ Association, the military will provide money for further education in college or trade school, during or after military service under the GI Bill. An added bonus is that veterans don’t have to use the GI Bill for themselves: they can pass the benefit on to their spouses or kids (benefits.va.gov). Senior Brian Lim, who is currently enrolled in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, plans on using his GI bill to further pursue his education after his military service.

According to a website about military benefits, service members are also eligible for Variable Housing Allowance (VHA), which means, depending on which region chosen and whether to live off base, the military will grant extra money to pay rent or pay off a mortgage (militaryspot.com). So not only will school be covered, but housing will be easier to afford as well.

   Although going to college is a good plan, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other opportunities out there for students graduating high school. The military is not for everyone, but it can certainly serve as a good choice as a college alternative out of high school. When thinking about what’s next for you, take your time and explore your options.

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