Separation From Loved Ones
The military lifestyle is filled with permanent changes of station, deployments, and temporary duty assignments. Although these military terms are not interchangeable, they all boil down to one reoccurring aspect of military life leaving your family and friends behind.
Even though the military provides family separation allowance, a form of military pay, when a service member is separated from family for more than 30 days, the extra money doesnt make up for being without the people you love most. If youre a family-oriented person who cannot imagine spending a considerable amount of time away from family, for miles away at a time, the military may not be the best option for you.
Military Retirement Benefits Are Worth Millions
Its not an exaggeration to say military retirement benefits are worth millions of dollars.
Military members receive a lifetime pension based on the average of their highest three years of base pay. Military retirees who are in the High 3 Retirement System receive 2.5% of their base pay for each year of service. So 20 years of service would equate to a pension worth 50% of their highest 3 years of base pay .
Members who are participating in the new Blended Retirement System use the same calculations, except that you would use a 2.0% multiplier instead of 2.5%. So a retirement at 20 years would be 40%, 25 years would be 50%, and 30 years would be 60%. However, there are two big additions: the first is matching TSP contributions of up to 5% of your base pay, allowing you to have portable retirement benefits when you leave the military, even if you dont reach retirement. The other is a Continuation Pay Bonus, which is a mid-career cash bonus for extending your service commitment.
Example retirement value:
Enlisted members earn somewhat less than commissioned officers. However, their pensions are based on the same formula and receive the same cost of living increases each year. So you can easily run the numbers and get a rough approximation of potential retirement benefits. For example, a $2,500 a month pension is worth $30,000 per year. That would be worth $300,000, $600,000, or $900,000 over 10, 20, or 30 years.
Learn more about retirement benefits:
The Financial Benefits Of Joining The Military: Free Education Great Retirement And More
Updated: by Financial Samurai
Raising The Flag in Iwo Jima 1945
The following is a terrific guest post from Spencer, a captain in the US Air Force, who gives a complete overview of the financial benefits of joining the military.
There are many different paths you can take in life. Blue collar, white collar, no collar the jobs you do often reflect your upbringing. If you come from an affluent community or family, one path you might not have considered is joining the military. Military service has many rewards, some of which can be a free college education, an exciting non-standard job, travel opportunities, and the chance to do some amazing things around the world.
A college degree is a necessity to achieve substantial financial goals, unless youre the next Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. But college is getting more and more expensive every year, way outpacing inflation. Student loan debt only gets you a negative start on your journey to financial freedom. Alternatively, military service can enable you to get a free college degree, have a job lined up when you graduate, and make money while you go to school.
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High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps
Many of you may have heard about Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps but may not really know what its all about. Is it a military prep program? Do you have to join the military if you participate in JROTC? What are the advantages of the program? What branches of the military have JROTC programs? Is there a program at my high school? These are all great questions! Lucky for you, we have all of the answers.
If you are a high school student or a parent, weve put together the definitive guide to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps , so you can make informed decisions on whether JROTC may be right for you.
Should I Join The Military After High School
For thousands of young American men and women, serving in the military has long been a path to both social and economic mobility. Military service is a great way to see the world while learning valuable skills that can be transferred to civilian life. And, there are many benefits to military service many individuals would not have otherwise had the opportunity to get a college degree or purchase a home without their decision to join the military. And, veterans who opt not to go to college are more likely to earn more than civilians who do the same.
Theres no denying that the discipline, focus, and responsibility that you learn when serving in the military can benefit you for the rest of your life. But before you enlist, its important that you have a thorough understanding of both the risks and benefits of military life and understand exactly what a commitment to a career in the armed forces involves.
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Benefits Of Joining The Army With A Bachelor’s Degree
Youve probably heard that a few years in the military will give you the training you need to move on to college and a great career. But you dont have to join right after high school graduation. In fact, some people get their bachelors degrees and then join the military. There are several perks to doing that, including rapid advancement through the ranks.
Physical Appearance And Grooming
The military has high standards when it comes to how you present yourself. Because you are a representation of the military as a whole, you have to look and play the part, especially in uniform.
For example, facial hair is a no go, with the exception of a small mustache. Long hair is out of the question for men. The military has a regulation from how to wear your hair to the length of your fingernails. Long, dangly earrings while in uniform cannot be worn and tattoos must be hidden. The physical appearance also trickles down into your lifestyle out of uniform. You cant drink or smoke in uniform, but when youre out of uniform, youre still held to a high standard.
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Enlisting In The Military
Once you have talked to a recruiter, youâll set a date to visit a Military Entrance Processing Station to finish the enlistment process.
The MEPS is a joint Service organization that determines an applicant’s physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards as set by each branch of military service. There are MEPS locations all over the country.
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The Downsides Of Being A Military Spouse
Naturally, military spouse benefits are not the only part of the military life but you probably already knew that.
While the military spouse benefit part is really helpful for any type of family and contains many more benefits than we mentioned there are a couple of other things that will really test your patience as a military spouse.
- Your spouse is honor-bound as you know, you will most likely spend quite some time apart from your spouse. This is because the military requires them to dedicate themselves to their duty, no matter what. As such, you may have to deal with deployment, work shifts during unconventional hours, service on temporary stations, including training programs, and so on.
- You may miss some holidays together the family is extremely important to a service member mainly because he/she wont be able to always be home for Christmas, for example, a case in which theyll rely on parents, and so on, to spend time with their spouse.
- You may have a hard time understanding his/Her feelings if youre not connected to the military in any way, then you will surely feel like somethings wrong when your spouse is stressed, anxious, and so on when, in fact, its because of their job. As mentioned above, family is extremely important to them as such, the best thing you can do is to keep both their feelings and type of work in mind when thinking about them.
The bottom line
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Weigh Out All Your Options
Going into the military has several disadvantages. Without proper guidance and support, life in the military can be unpleasant. Be sure to consider every option before committing your life to at least 4 years of military duty.
If you decide youd like to start the civilian career search instead, look no further than Empire Resume. With our resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and cover letter services, we can help you get the job you deserve. Our professional resume writing services delivers results, guaranteed!
Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.
How To Maximize Your Redux Retirement Earnings
Redux was an optional retirement plan for active duty service members who began their service after July 31, 1986, but before January 1, 2018. It’s generally considered the least favorable retirement plan.
Under the REDUX system, at the 15-year mark, service members could elect to receive an immediate monetary bonus of $30,000.
- 2.5% times the service members years of service
- minus 1% for each year of service less than 30 years
- times the average of the members highest 36 months of basic pay
For 20 years of service, you would be looking at 50% . Since 20 years is 10 years less than 30 years, your percentage multiplier would be 40% . You then multiply that number by your average of 36 months or 3 years of basic pay. Your basic pay is typically how much you are paid in your current rank.
After age 62, the benefit becomes 2.5% times the number of years of service times the average members highest 36 months of basic pay. Its in favor of the longer serving military member, so the incentive is to remain on active duty longer before retiring.
Try using the Department of Defenses REDUX calculator if you need help calculating your benefits.
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Earn Respect And Admiration From Your Peers
I cant tell you how often my friends introduce me to others by mentioning my service in the Army.
Almost always, I get the same reaction.
Wow. Thats really admirable of you.
I never brag about it, but, to be honest, it always feels good to hear.
Not to mention, everyone always wants to buy me a beer.
Officer Candidate School Ots/ocs
Your last option for becoming a commissioned officer is Officer Training School or Officer Candidate School . This is an intensive 10-17 week course that produces commissioned officers rapidly. OTS/OCS consolidates four years of basic officer training that the Academies and ROTC teach into a few months.
This program is usually a gap filler when theres a time of war and the military needs more officers than the ROTC or Academies are producing per year. OTS/OCS can be even more difficult to get into than the service Academies and spots can be extremely limited at times. The same bachelor degree requirements apply.
Upon graduation youll receive a commission in the US military and the same rank, pay, and privileges as an ROTC or Academy graduate.
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Attending College Without Crushing Debt
The high costs of a college education have forced many high school graduates to consider alternative paths to college and work careers. According to U.S. News, the average annual tuition and fees bill for students at four-year private colleges exceeded $40,000 in the 2020 to 2021 academic year. Thats more than $160,000 over the course of four years, not counting additional expenses like room, board, and electronics. While many students pursue merit- and need-based scholarships, these typically account for a few thousand dollars annually, at most.
Not surprisingly, the average graduate left college in 2018 with more than $35,000 in student loan debt according to figures compiled by Experian. Thats an increase of more than 25% over the preceding five-year period.
Excessive student loan debt has significant lifetime consequences, delaying the purchase of homes, marriage, and children. To pay off their education debt, graduates often accept jobs outside their field of interest, work longer hours, or take second jobs to supplement their income.
Entering the military does not preclude a college degree, but it defers college entry and provides significant financial benefits for students during and after military service. Specifically, all military service members are eligible for tuition assistance while on active duty or in the Reserves. This assistance is not a loan, but is considered part of basic pay and can cover up to $4,500 in tuition and fees each year.
% Military Pay Increase
A 2.7% pay raise has been proposed for 2022. This is a little less than last year which was 3.0%. For junior enlisted, this would be an increase of around $768 a year.
The main guideline for determining military pay raises comes from the quarterly report of the US Employment Cost Index which is put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics .
The fiscal 2022 NDAA will need to be passed and then the 2.7% raise will take effect as of Jan 1, 2022.
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Full Medical Coverage For You And Your Family
Military members are immediately eligible for full health care benefits for themselves and their immediate family members as soon as they enter the service, and if you stay through until retirement, you and your family can take these benefits with you when you leave the military. These health benefits extend to immediate family . You may also be eligible for temporary military healthcare benefits after you leave the service.
Risks Of Enlisting In The Armed Forces
Never overlook or underestimate the commitment and courage of the thousands of young men and women who willingly volunteer to go into harms way to defend their country. The military not only fights Americas wars, but assists in times of catastrophic emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, and outbreaks of disease.
Only a small portion of Americans were active-duty members of the military in 2015. Because military service isnt compulsory or widespread within the broader population, the publics perceptions of the dangers faced by the typical service member may be grossly exaggerated.
According to figures compiled by the Congressional Research Organization , less than 1% of those on active duty between 1980 and 2019 have died while in service, and most of the deaths were accidental. The U.S. Army has accounted for the greatest number of fatalities and wounded in every war, followed by the Marines.
According to the CRO report, roughly one-third of active service members served in theater the land, sea, and air area directly involved in war operations during the Persian Gulf War . However, the majority of the military personnel in-theater serve in noncombat roles in HQ and administration, logistics, and life support.
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What Does A Typical Jrotc Program Look Like
JROTC programs are funded by the Department of Defense and taught by retired service members. Course content includes branch-specific military history and customs. You will wear a uniform that corresponds to the uniforms worn by military personnel in their respective branch. Youll wear your uniform once a week and at JROTC sponsored events. Youll also take part in physical fitness training and drill instruction. Drill is a way to help you learn discipline and learn how the military operated as a group.
As a JROTC cadet, youre assigned ranks comparable to the chain of command of the military branch that your JROTC unit. To be promoted, you must gain military knowledge as you progress through the program and demonstrate practical skills and leadership. Like the military, as you are promoted in rank, you are expected to help teach and lead cadets who are of a lower rank.
Here is the rank structure for an Air Force JROTC unit:
More Benefits: Veterans Affairs Health Care And Insurance Systems
All veterans receive coverage for most care and services, but only some will qualify for added benefits like dental care. The full list of covered benefits depends on your priority group, the advice of your VA primary care provider and the medical standards for treating any health conditions you may have.
- If you are a retired service member, both you and your family have access to Tricare, the militarys health care plan. If you have other forms of health care coverage , you can use VA health care benefits along with these plans.
- Disability pay from the VA is also available for service-connected injuries.
- The Post-9/11 GI Bill helps you pay for school or job training if youve served on active duty after September 10, 2001.
Military members have access to other benefits, such as special types of checking and savings accounts within financial institutions, VA loans for purchasing a home or access to additional select credit lines to help start a business after separating from military service. Military members and their families also have several unique considerations when it comes to choosing auto insurance coverage.
It’s also essential to go with the right life insurance, whether that’s one of the government-sponsored programs or a private-sector policy. Whatever coverage you choose, it’s critical to know exactly what your insurance policy covers.
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