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How To Prepare for Joining the Army

Want to be a soldier? You better prepare for joining the Army before you talk to a recruiter.

Being a military member is not an easy decision to make—or rather, it shouldn't be one. If you want to join the military police force, or just become an Army doctor, then it's assumed that you have put a lot of thought into that decision. 

The Army is one branch of the Armed Forces that tends to be a particularly heavy decision to make, simply because they do so much work abroad. If you have decided that the Army is right for you, then by all means, join. 

One thing that most people don't know is that you really do have to prepare for joining the Army if you want to make it in. Here's what recruiters want you to know.

Before we start, we want to emphasize the importance of thinking this decision through.

The Armed Forces are no laughing matter. If you are considering a job in the Army, then you really need to think about it. Consider the following points before you prepare to join the Army's ranks:

  • You will have a minimum amount of time that you have to spend in the job. You cannot just quit an Army job. You have to show up, whether you like it or not. Refusing to work will get you court marshalled. Are you okay with that?
  • Pay isn't good, but benefits are. All the cool types of people you see off base? Yeah, they earn more than you. The benefits, though, tend to be great. 
  • You also won't have control over where you live or what you do. The Army will dictate to you what you're going to need to do, including where you live, whether you stay in the country, and what you do. 
  • Your family may freak out. They may not want to hear about you joining the Army, because it's very dangerous compared to other jobs. 

First, you need to prepare yourself for joining the Army's intake.

The Army has a pretty darned streamlined way of letting applicants join up—so much so, that it can be jarring for people who are used to civilian life. So, it's important to do what you can to prep yourself for sudden, dramatic changes.

Getting thrown into military life isn't easy. You will have to deal with haircut changes, clothing changes, and very likely, living changes. If you can't handle that from a psychological perspective, you're not anywhere near ready to join. Take time to brace yourself. 

Book a doctor's appointment!

A lot of recruiters and would-be recruits will tell you that a doctor's appointment should be on any to-do list when you are preparing to join the Army. All the mental preparation in the world will not do you any good if you're actually not capable of joining. 

If you're serious about joining but aren't 100 percent sure you can join, ask a doctor to look for medical conditions that could disqualify you from the Army.  

If you have a particular reason why you're joining, make sure it's something that's worth fighting for.

There's definitely a reason why many people go into the Armed Forces. Is it patriotic duty? Is it feeling like you need to have a stable income? Though some may disagree with this step, quite a few veterans would suggest that you think about the reason—or even talk to someone about it. 

When you are in the Army, military life will not always be easy. You will have a drill sergeant barking at you. You're going to be waking up at 5 AM. Heck, you might even get a grenade tossed at you. 

If you're going to join, make a point of joining with all your heart. 

Speaking of which, you will also have to tell your family what you're up to.

Preparation isn't just about you. It's about the people around you, too. You will need to sit down with your family and friends to explain what you're doing with your career—and tell them that you appreciate them sticking by you during your time training. 

Expect some to try to dissuade you. Expect some tears. You will not always get the supportive talk that you hoped for, but you still need to give them the heads up about what you're going to do. 

You may also need to prepare yourself on a physical level.

Army basic training isn't easy, and if you can't meet the minimum physical fitness standards, you will not be able to be admitted. That's why it's so crucial that you prepare physically for basic training, and why you will need to meet the bare minimums.

If you have a little extra flab or aren't good at running, you must prep for Army fitness by getting a gym membership. You won't be able to stay in if you can't survive the training. 

Write down a list of questions about joining the army before you talk to a recruiter.

Part of learning how to prepare for joining the Army is knowing what you should expect. As much as you may think you know everything that needs to be explained about the Army enlistment process, there will be a couple of things that you still won't be fully aware of. 

We suggest asking the following:

  • Where will I be living during training? After training? 
  • Where will I be training? 
  • What are the minimum physical requirements I'll need to meet? 
  • How long will training be?

If you have already made contact with a recruiter, you are also going to have to talk to people who will keep your stuff with you at home.

Joining the Army isn't easy and while most people in the military do not get deployed immediately after training, it can happen. Here's where choosing to join the Army gets tricky. 

Most people don't really think about what they will do with all the stuff they own if they're deployed, and that can be pretty bad for them. Training goes by pretty fast, so you want to have a good grip on your belongings and such, you may need to take time to sort things out before you go into training. 

If you end up being deployed as soon as you finish training, you'll be in a pickle. Talk to family. Consider storage. Think if you really want to keep your car. These things matter. 

You will also need to prepare for the worst, if you have kids.

If you're preparing to join the Army at an older age, there's a good chance that you may have kids. Unfortunately, this can throw a wrench in your Army plans and may (in certain cases) become a disqualifying trait. 

Should you choose to join up after having kids, you will need to make sure that they will be taken care of by someone you designate while you're deployed. This can be a spouse, a parent, or a sibling. You also may need to get life insurance, just in case. 

Long story short, you need to prepare for a lot of things you didn't see coming.

The reason why so many vets suggest having a list of things you need to prepare for joining the Army is because it's a life-changing event. The Army has a way of changing who you are to your very core. Though no one can really prepare for that all the way, this short list will help you make the transition easier on you.