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Why Joining the Military May Not Be Worth It Anymore

Joining the military doesn't have the perks it once did.

By Cato ConroyPublished 7 years ago 6 min read

Joining the military used to be a surefire way to get good retirement, great benefits, and an excellent standing in society. In fact, there was a point in American history where joining the military was considered to be both a duty and almost a rite of passage.

But, as years passed, it seems like public opinion of the military began to wane. People began to turn their noses up at soldiers who risked their lives to serve their country in Vietnam.

Parents began to warn their children against being in the military, citing low wages and high risk of death. Even politicians have begun to roll back benefits for those who fight for our freedoms.

Many people think that the military is no longer worth the risk or the hard work anymore. Here's why they may be right — at least when it comes to some situations.

Health benefits are not as good as they used to be.

It's downright criminal how poorly veterans are treated by the medical care system that was supposed to nurture them back to health after the wars they fight. Though we once had some of the most attentive hospitals in the world dedicated to our military, this is a thing of the past.

TRICARE, the military healthcare program, has been notoriously poor in being able to help soldiers returning from war in the Middle East. In many cases, soldiers are sent to overcrowded hospitals, denied necessary treatment, or "strongly encouraged" to overlook PTSD from their battles.

Civilian doctors also are increasingly refusing patients who have TRICARE insurance. So, if you avoid VA hospitals, you still may end up having problems finding a provider who will treat you.

To make matters worse, it seems like many civilians are also bilking the already-stressed system via fraud. As a result, benefits for actual veterans end up getting slashed — and they don't get the healthcare they need in order to enjoy life outside of war.

In recent years, there have been spates of soldiers who have committed suicide, citing the military's lack of good healthcare as a prime reason for their deaths.

So, if you are thinking about joining the military in order to get healthcare benefits, you may be sorely disappointed. They aren't as good as you'd hope them to be.

Many veterans also don't get the same level of respect they once did.

Vietnam veterans are particularly aware of this, but the truth is that most veterans can tell you that being a veteran isn't as respected as it once was. A lot of people don't understand what's at stake on the battlefield nor why they join.

Though it's rarer than it was in the 60s, there are still people out there who will disrespect military members just because they joined the military. This is because people who are anti-war often assume that joining the military is an act that shows you support violence.

There's an unspoken stigma that wrongly assumes that military members are violent or unstable. This often makes it somewhat difficult for veterans to find a job after they finish a tour.

Some even assume that the military is the "last resort" for people who can't get hired otherwise. Even colonels who have retired have discussed at length how often the trust in the military is taken for granted — and how often military skills are looked down upon.

Sadly, there's even a stigma against dating military members in certain circles. Because people often hear about horror stories involving military men as spouses, many don't want to date them — despite those stories being a very small minority.

As a result, joining the military is one of those things that can backfire if you were looking for more respect.

The government has betrayed the military's trust before in pretty gruesome ways.

Everyone knows that there is a risk of being killed in action if you are a military member. There's also a big risk of being permanently disabled because of the effects of war. Some military members don't even actually make it through training without injury.

But, most of the time, military recruits assume that the damage that could be done would mostly be at the hands of enemy combatants. What many people don't realize is that there have been many moments where military recruits died due to knowing omissions by the U.S. government.

The following examples of government betrayal might have you thinking twice about joining the military:

  • Agent Orange. Perhaps the largest mass betrayal by the government against its own troops is the Agent Orange scandal of the Vietnam War. Agent Orange, as well as a number of other defoliants, were known by the government to be highly poisonous. The government denied military members care, refused to admit knowledge of the toxins, and denied reparations, even after a huge percentage of veterans began to get cancer from being exposed to Agent Orange. To this day, the government refuses to admit the dangers of dioxin, the chief ingredient in Agent Orange, despite ample proof to it. Thousands have died as a result of exposure to this chemical over the past 40 years.
  • Radiation Exposure. In the years following World War II, the United States government exposed soldiers to radiation from nuclear bomb strikes to see how they would react. Most of the soldiers died, despite being told, "it was totally safe."
  • Regular Military Experimentation. It wasn't only during wartime that military members have been exposed to strange chemicals. Many military members have been exposed to chemicals that they still don't know what they were, years later. In many cases, the men who were exposed began to show strange symptoms years after they were exposed. The government stayed mum on what they were given. Some veterans have gone on to sue the government to find out what they were injected with, but it's uncertain they will ever find out.

Joining the military comes with a lot of risks. This is one that most recruiters won't tell you about.

The pay might also not be as good as you'd think it'd be.

The congressional budget showed that the average active military duty officer will get around $99,000 per year in pay. This includes salary, a food allowance, and a number of other benefits. It sounds great...but let's take a more realistic look at the numbers before you decide to join the military for cash's sake.

Military pay is based on the amount of time you've spent actually working in the military, as well as the rank you hold. It also is based on whether you're an Army Reserves member or a full-time member. Part-time military members will rarely make more than $1,000 per month.

If you are just starting out, base pay will only be around $1,400 per month. You also won't get meal pay, because the military requires most low ranking recruits to eat the MRE's you're given. However, a four-star general will make over $17,000 per month.

Most people don't become four-star generals, though. Many don't get much higher in the ranks than sergeant, which pays a salary of $28,000 or so. Therefore, money shouldn't be a reason for joining the military.

Overall, joining the military isn't as good an option as it used to be — but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it.

There are many, many reasons why joining the military is not a good idea. However, the truth is that many people find the military to be one of the best decisions that they have ever made for themselves.

The pay for military people might not always be as much as they deserve, but it's still decent compared to many retail jobs. You also get free (albeit poor) healthcare, great family benefits, a community, as well as an opportunity to help save peoples' lives.

Basically, it all boils down to the kind of person you are. If you're looking for a job that involves desk work, the army might not be for you. However, if you're looking for a career that can take you all around the world, it could be the best decision you'll ever make.

fact or fiction

About the Creator

Cato Conroy

Cato Conroy is a Manhattan-based writer who yearns for a better world. He loves to write about politics, news reports, and interesting innovations that will impact the way we live.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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    Creative use of language & vocab

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