I know that there are other forums about this.
I am just facing a really hard choice right now.
I am applying to both USNA, and USMA, and I figure that the decision of where I go will be decided by if/where I am accepted. Even this far ahead though, I find it troubling to think of deciding a service/academy. I had reached a predetermination, but after meeting some of the Army community I am back to ground zero.
I think beyond the 4 years at an academy though, is the perhaps 20+ years that I have considered serving. I also like to think that from what I have seen the school reflect there respective branch.
Can anyone offer insight on differences between the branches or SA's? This information is particularly relevant as I am currently in the process of ranking for noms.
Don’t think 20+ years; think ADSO - which officer specialties appeal to you, which culture. Dig into the Army, Navy and Marine Corps websites about those.
More often than not, or it always seemed so to me, peers that said “full career for me,” got out at 5-7, and those who said “ADSO and I’m gone,” surprised the heck out of themselves and stayed far longer or did full career. DH got Navy air out of USNA, planned to go to the airlines as soon as he could. One aerobatic hop in flight school, and that was it for him, full career, 4 operational commands including an aircraft carrier. Me, I was “three and flee” out of OCS, except somehow I stayed for 26, because I loved serving, the mission, the Navy culture, the things I got to see/do/learn, the people I met, the dedicated and savvy sailors I had the privilege of leading and serving with - I would do it all again, without pay, even the crappy parts.
All the services plan for attrition every year, especially as ADSO dates come up for officer year groups each year. It is not expected everyone will stay past ADSO or ADSO+36 months for GI Bill; the services have numerical caps on each pay grade, by law. There are fewer officers at each pay grade, the more senior. What is expected is honorable and faithful service while you wear the uniform. You have no idea how your life journey will unfold. You could get married and have a child with special needs, and your family decision is for you to separate. You could love everything you do in the Army/Navy/Marine Corps, but realize in your heart, you really don’t think command is for you, but are excited to go get your MBA at Wharton, go be an entrepreneur, perhaps be active in the Reserve, or just join the millions of vets who have served honorably, but have moved on to other paths. You have another 60-75 years on the planet - there is a delicious array of opportunity and twists and turns awaiting you.
Focus on what you would be doing immediately after commissioning, ADSO and the 36 months after that it takes to earn the full Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefit (if you choose to do that, serve <36, % drops from 100%). The Navy does most of its work in the water, under the water, below the water, often for months at a time or most of a year, in the far corners of the world, during operational tours. The Marines go with them many times. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Both are fine paths, however long or short you end up being on that path. When it’s time to choose, trust your brain, heart and gut. One of them you will be more able to let go of.