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Things You Should Know Before Meeting the Military Recruiter

Fighting for your country is a courageous decision, but there are several things you need to know before meeting the military recruiter and making your choice.


Are you aware of what you need to know before meeting the military recruiter? Many potential recruits have no idea. They expect their recruiter to tell them everything. It doesn't work that way, however. More often, you need to ask explicit questions about the aspects of military service that will have the most significant effect on your life.

It's better with moral support.

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One of the most important things to know before meeting the military recruiter is that you don't have to go alone—and, in fact, you shouldn't. The presence of trustworthy moral support in the form of a family member, friend, or adviser is critical. With someone there to help you gather your thoughts, you aren't as likely to be intimidated by the recruiter, which happens even among potential soldiers who are enthusiastic. Bringing along another person to the recruiter's office prevents you from being overwhelmed or forgetting what you wanted to ask or say. For some recruits, they feel more like they met the Army secretary, not just a recruit grunt who wants to fulfill a quota. Don't be that person. Don't let the situation or the location cause you to freeze up or get nervous.

Civility and courtesy take you far.

Authority is scary to some people. Others perceive a challenge when faced with authority figures; they choose to get into pissing contests. That's not smart. Manners and civility are a few of the common sense things to know before meeting the military recruiter. Those women and men have nothing to prove. They aren't impressed by snotty attitudes or tough guy acts. Don't step into the office thinking that you're somehow going to go toe-to-toe with the recruiter, or that you can play mind games. Don't be rude and don't be shy. Walk in with a winning attitude, maintain a respectful demeanor, and remember that the recruiter is just another person getting a job done.

Think about your service.

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What branch of the military do you want to join? What tasks do you want to perform to serve your country? Think about your skills beforehand, as well as your passions. There's a place for nearly every skill set in the military, and the rumors are true: the service you choose may well pay for schooling. Although most active-duty soldiers have to do their fair share of grunt work, you can look into specialization, whether you want to be a pilot, a medic, or a wartime reporter. However, you also need to consider which branch of the armed services you wish to join. Are you interested in air, land, or sea? Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps—what will it be?

Talk to the recruiter about the service, too. In some branches, new recruits are in bureaucratic limbo. They move nowhere, they have no active-duty assignments, and they aren't sure what's coming next. Prospective recruits who have questions before joining the Air Force might want to reconsider and turn their attention to the Navy instead, or vice versa.

Don't be tempted to lie.

Any time a service member joins the military, you can rest assured that her or his background information comes to the fore. You might feel the urge to lie because you know there's something in your past that will bar you from qualifying for military service. Don't do it.

The temptation is there. Now, when a service member joins the military following Trump's confusing new policies, the desire to lie about certain aspects of yourself and your history is strong and completely understandable. You can't keep anything from Uncle Sam, though. The problem is that the needs of recruits won't be met when they lie to qualify for service. You may sneak past the entrance and make it all the way to basic training, but if your fib affects your performance in any way, someone will find you out eventually.

Own who you are.

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The most vital thing to you need to know before meeting the military recruiter is who you are. Joining the military following the Trump ban on transgender men and women is scary and confounding. In particular, when a transgender service member joins a branch of the military, there's a real chance that they won't have the opportunity to serve at all.

Don't let unequal policies force you to conform to something you're not. Own who you are regarding your identity, your culture, your religion, and your sexuality. That might mean that the military isn't for you, but it's better to know that at the recruitment stage before anything is final.

Ask pointed questions about unclear policies.

Speaking of those policies, they're high on the list of what you should know before meeting the military recruiter. Since President Trump announced his edict on transgender soldiers via Twitter, no one is really sure what's happening. Upper-echelon military brass maintains that no policies have changed in the time since President Trump sought to overturn the rights of transgender recruits and LGBTQIA+ rights in the armed forces.

If you're worried about any part of your service, ask questions. Continue asking until you receive answers that satisfy you. If those answers aren't forthcoming, then you may need to think again about joining the service.

Gas up your skills.

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You have the opportunity to show off your skills when you join the military. Moreover, doing so is potentially beneficial. Your education, for example, can boost your value. It's possible that you can enter into the service branch of your choice on a career track. Discuss your schooling with the recruiter, along with any certifications or degrees you hold.

Forget the recruiter.

Don't let the recruiter sway you one way or the other. Yes, granted, that's the job of the military recruiter, but at the end of the day, what you want matters the most. You do yourself a disservice if a recruiter who buys you lunch talks you into turning away from the Marines and toward the Army. You do yourself a greater injustice if an unpleasant or unlikable recruiter causes you to turn away from your dream of serving your country.

Scan the ASVAB beforehand.

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The Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery test is an exam that each prospective soldier has to pass by a specific margin. Without a qualifying score, you're unfit to serve. At the recruitment command, you have to take a sample of the ASVAB, which scores you in Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge. The example ASVAB has questions that represent each category, so the score you receive is indicative of how you'll do on the full exam.

Practice beforehand. Talk to veterans and current active-duty soldiers about what to expect. Make sure you know how to effectively study. It will put your mind at ease. Besides, some recruiters won't let you take the actual ASVAB unless you meet a minimum score on the practice test.

Get everything in writing.

Quotas—that's something you ought to know before meeting the military recruiter. Many recruit commands have a goal of 80,000 recruits to meet per year. However, in larger metropolitan areas, that might be the monthly or quarterly goal. These folks aren't above saying anything you want to hear as long as you sign.

Get every promise in writing. Make them write down every offer. That goes for veterans seeking upgrades after getting discharged from the military as well as fresh-faced recruits. And before you sign anything, read through every word—twice.

Talk to active soldiers and veterans about other pieces of information you should know before meeting the military recruiter. What brand do you want to join?

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