"Career" out of the military?

Discussion in 'Life After the Academy' started by Strength and Honor, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. Strength and Honor

    Strength and Honor Member

    Jun 7, 2013
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    Lately while I've been trying to make my school selection and telling people about VMI/ROTC, they've seemed to ask me, "Do you want to make a career out of the military?"

    I was always under the impression that being in the military was just a stage of your life, people serve in the military for a few years and then get a job in the civilian world. How common is it for people to actually make a career out of the military? It would seem pretty hard since I've heard of people getting forced out, or simply not making the promotion cuts.

  2. bruno

    bruno 5-Year Member Retired Staff Member

    Feb 2, 2008
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    I guess what you are asking is: Do most people who go on AD stay to retirement? I don't know what the numbers are, but No most don't stay on AD to retirement, for a variety of reasons:
    a. They Don't want to either because they don't like it, or they are sick of it, or because they want to do something else more than they want to keep doing this.
    b. They never intended to stay on AD for a career- - they like the Army but have civilian interests as well- lots of folks like that in the Reserve or NG. So the Army is still something they do but they are not doing it full time.
    c. They aren't very good at it, as determined by promotion boards. As an officer once you are passed over , you are dead in the water and you are on your way out. OR else- as drawdown occurs you are selcted to leave- this is gonna start happening more and more.

    VMI is actually built around your premise- the concept of "Citizen soldiers" (to quote the parapet -'Fair Specimens of Citizen soldiers, attached to their native state, proud of her fame, and ready in everytime of deepest peril to vindicate her honor and defend her rights") who do their duty when they are needed and have careers in the civilian world. About 20% of grads become career military (ie... they stay to retirement) while the rest have primarily civilian careers even if they started off on AD for an initial tour of duty.

    So having said that- your choice of major in college DOES MATTER A LOT in my opinion. The Military may be a shorter period of employment than you thought when you were 18 for all kinds of reasons - and when you start looking for a job- some degrees are a lot more employable than others. So don't get target fixated on the Army as your only future option- you may just discover by the time you are ready to commission, that you aren't as gungho as you were a few years before, and that is doubly true of how things may look once you have been in for a couple of years. More than one Lt has discovered that he is not signing up for a John Wayne movie and things aren't as exciting as he once thought, and he is counting the days till his commitment is over.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  3. Aglahad

    Aglahad 5-Year Member

    Aug 25, 2011
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    I would venture a guess that if I polled my grad class at commissioning 80-90% would want to go the full 20. If I did a poll now, I would think that number would drop 20-30 percent just a year and a half later based on recent conversations .

    People's goals and perceptions change
  4. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator 5-Year Member

    Oct 21, 2010
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    Agree with above posts. In any case, as long as you prepare yourself for a possible career outside of the military then there is no need to make a decision now. Just keep your mind open to going either way - which is probably a far more mentally healthy way to approach it... or anything.
  5. USMAROTCFamily

    USMAROTCFamily Member

    Jan 11, 2013
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    When I got commissioned and went on active duty, I had every intention of being a "Lifer," but when they offered early-outs in 1991, I jumped at the chance. I fulfilled the rest of my ROTC scholarship in the IRR and moved onto my civilian career.
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006 5-Year Member

    Nov 25, 2007
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    Good comments.

    I'll add that it's difficult to prepare yourself to immediate jump into the private sector.

    I also think the military does a HORRIBLE job preparing its folks for life on the outside. Guys serve 30 years, go to a one week TAPs class and they're out and about. The military could really stand to provide folks with the tools and transferable skills to the outside.
  7. Stevewar2

    Stevewar2 Member

    Oct 7, 2013
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    "They aren't very good at it, as determined by promotion boards. As an officer once you are passed over , you are dead in the water and you are on your way out."

    I was passed over for promotion to MAJ (0-4) the first time and ended up retiring as a COL(0-6). There are always ways to survive. You just have to do your best and hope things work out. I always wanted to be a lifer and it finally worked out.
  8. MabryPsyD

    MabryPsyD Dr. G.

    Jul 1, 2013
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    For the servicemembers who get chapters, retirement, MEB'd, etc; most of my therapy sessions revolve around long term planning for life outside the military. Are you going to school? Where are you going to live? Where are you going to work? Are you going to work? The ACAP process is horrible.

    I once transitioned someone out of the Army in 9 days (chapter 9 ASAP failure). That's not enough time in my opinion.

    Sir, what did you do to make yourself competitive for O-6 after being passed over for O-4?

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