Paying Your Way
Active duty or reserve — serving your country is just the start.
You may have brushed off military recruitment letters when you were just turning 18, but it could be an option you want to reconsider. The military offers a competitive salary, training and benefits while enlisted, as well as generous education assistance for honorably discharged veterans.
Not ready to enlist full time? The military reserves offer an option for you to serve near home until you are needed to deploy. The Army Reserve, for instance, offers service options ranging from three to six years and many of the same benefits as the full-time Army. You’ll receive the same training as active-duty soldiers, return to your civilian life and spend one weekend a month drilling to keep your skills sharp. For two weeks a year, you’ll serve on Active Duty, focusing on challenging field and specialty training.
|Armed Service||Active Duty Members||Website|
Minimum Active Duty Commitment
Generally four years; there are a few two- or three-year commitments available. Check the websites of individual branches for specific active duty commitments. Enlistment contracts usually involve
additional years of active and inactive reserve duty.
Passing score on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test (varies by branch). Completion of some type of basic training or “boot camp.”
Average junior enlisted members earn approximately $43,000 per year. Regular military compensation includes basic pay, allowances for housing and subsistence and the federal tax advantage.
Post-9/11 GI Bill: Based on your length of service, you may receive a percentage of the following: tuition and fee payments paid to your school on your behalf; a monthly housing allowance; a books/supplies stipend of up to $1,000 per year. Benefits can be used at colleges, universities, trade schools and for on-the-job training, apprenticeships and flight schools. Go to www.gibill.va.gov to learn more.
Active duty military receive federally paid retirement benefits and free medical and dental care when using military-approved providers.
All branches offer advanced enlistment rank, which means higher pay for recruits with a certain number of college credits or for participation in programs like ROTC in high school. Some branches also offer enlistment bonuses for jobs that are less desirable for recruits, have very high entrance requirements, such as high ASVAB scores, or have extremely difficult training periods.