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17 Year Old wants to join the Army
Old 02-08-2008, 04:53 PM   #1
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17 Year Old wants to join the Army

I need to tap the wisdom on this board regarding the Army. My 17 yr old - Jr in High School - wants to join the Army Reserves now under the split option program. He does boot camp between Jr / Sr year then when he graduates High School he goes in - his intent is to go Full Time active duty as soon as he can. We talk to the recruiter tomorrow - what questions do I need to ask? We are supportive though we don't know if this is best way for him to join. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:03 PM   #2
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Why the hurry? Why not wait until he graduates? I certainly don't have any insight but I would think the extra year of maturity would help him in boot camp.

In addition, while I would not want discourage anybody from joining the armed forces, why the army and not the Navy or Air Force?
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:12 PM   #3
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I don't know if your son has an idea of the type of job that he wants to do in the army or not.
It's awesome that he's enthusiastic, but if he signs now, he will be locked into a particular job (well pretty much) - what if he learns more in the next year and decides another job is the way to go?
Is there a bonus for the job he's choosing? If not - what are the chances there will be one a year from now?
If he signs now, he's signed - and that's pretty much it, not a lot of options for turning back. Basic training is what 9 weeks now? or 12? What's the difference between going between Jr. and Sr. year and going at the end of the Sr. year? Not a lot in the grand scheme of things.
I would ask what jobs are available. He should not only accept an MOS because that's all that's available, according to the recruiter. If there is a particular job that he wants, he should press hard for it, because again, once he signs, he's locked in, at least for a while.
I've been in the Army 12 years next month. It's great that you're supporting your son. The recruiter will have the Army, your son's, and his/her own interests in mind. You will have only your son's interests in mind - which as your son - is a good position.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:20 PM   #4
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He is enamored with the Army. The job he wants is Calvary Scout. When I ask him what he wants to be he simply says "Soldier." It's scary for us - to us he is still a young boy and I can't believe that is mature enough to make a decision that will affect the next 4-8 years of his life. With that said - he is being extremely stubborn - and it is difficult to even discuss this issue with him without one of us getting upset. If we don't give parental consent tomorrow - he will be very upset.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:20 PM   #5
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Oh - a couple more things.
Assignment of choice (duty station of choice) may be an option for your son as an incentive. If it doesn't make it into the contract, there is no guarantee - if he wants to go somewhere specific - he needs to ask for it and get it in the contract.

For many jobs - you can't just go anywhere. Your son should ask where he would go (around the World) for his job. Some jobs only have a limited number of duty stations that they can go to - although that's somewhat rare. If he's an infantryman or mechanic or something that is sort of the "base of" the Army - he could go pretty much anywhere. If he wants to go somewhere specific, again he should ask for it.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:39 PM   #6
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All good questions - and I will ask the recruiter. In your opinon, is there a downside to going in an Infantryman?
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:51 PM   #7
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Well, I will have to defer to the infantrymen on the board to really answer that question.
IMO there are downsides; his life will probably be about as tough as it gets in the Army - in all respects; but possibly the most rewarding. Again, I'll let some of the other folks answer on this one.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:54 PM   #8
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One downside may be that with the high number of deployments these days, he may find himself deployed a lot. This could potentially slow his own goals - i.e. higher education.
Motivation goes a long way though - anything is possible in the military if you stay motivated.
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Old 02-08-2008, 05:58 PM   #9
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One thing about being infantry as long as you are not deployed you tend to get alot of off time. While lets say an Army recruiter works his behind off constantly. Both fields have a great deal of pressure but different.
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Old 02-08-2008, 06:15 PM   #10
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I can't believe that is mature enough to make a decision that will affect the next 4-8 years of his life.
He's not. That's why the military needs you to sign for him. And that's why he has parents, whose job it is to make the best decision for him (whether he's pissed about it or not).

My nephew wanted to join the Navy Seals (!) last year and the recruiters had him all hyped up. My brother refused to give parental consent -- said if he still wanted to do it when he was 18 (and had had time to cool off), he could go ahead then with daddy's blessing.

Nephew is now in college -- the Seals seem to have been a passing fancy.


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In your opinon, is there a downside to going in an Infantryman?
Yeah, he could get shot to death. Or worse. (Hey, somebody had to say it.) Have you thought about how you'd feel if you'd signed for him, vs his doing it himself when he's 18, and he got killed? I'd be hesitant to lock him into a potentially life-altering slot based on what might only be a teenage whim.

Like clifp said, what's the big hurry? I can't believe you need to nail an infantryman's job down a year in advance, given that we're at war and all.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:08 PM   #11
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I am a officer in the Army so I don't know all the details about signing up though the enlisted ranks. However I do know how the system works so I hope I can help.

First, I would like to say there are tremenous opportunity in the Army and there is tremenous downsides to the Army. The Army is not for everyone, but if it fits it is a great place to be(education,leadership,values,travel(some better places than others), etc). Without knowing you or your son I don't know if he is making the right call. Since it sounds like your son wants to go infantry, I do want you to know that the normal cycle for the units that he wants to get into are 1 year at home and then 15 months in Iraq or Afghanistan. Now he will just go to basic training this summer and next summer he will finish off his job training. So maybe if the politics change a lot we could decrease the deployment cycle. I am not holding my breath though.

The most important thing to know is what job are you getting and how long the commitment. Is this is the first time you are meeting the recruiter? If so, he/she should just be interviewing him and trying to inform you guys about the different options the Army might be able to offer. The recruiter want to be able to setup up a next appointment so your son can take the ASVAB(like a IQ test) and get a physical. After that he probably can make some offers.
Just make sure you and your son do not rush into the signing the contract, the Recruiter wants to have him sign the dotted line as fast as he can so he/she can meet his/her numbers. But alway remember(and tell your son) promises mean nothing, if the duty location, signing bonus, other special conditions are not in the contract it probably will not come true. Some recruiter are better than others, but I have heard some pretty bad stories from some of my soldiers.

If it was my son, I would try to tell him about ROTC, and going into the Army as a officer. You can still be a infantry man, and a Scout, but the Army pays for you to go to College first. Just something to look into.

Now the benefit for doing the split op is he will have a year in service when he gets out of high school. Which is a little better pay, and he could retire a year earlier at 37, if he makes it that far(meaning he doesn't get out). I am not postive on that but I am pretty sure it will count as a full year Time in service.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:12 PM   #12
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I'm with Caroline on this one.

The primary job of the Army, Navy Air Force or Marines is to wage war. Offense or defense makes no difference, when someone in Washington says go to war, you go. And your primary job is to kill the enemy or get killed trying. The glory of war is only in the movies and the tales of the survivors.

Believe me when the bullets start flying you just hope one doesn't have your name on it.

It's not hard for me to tell you, don't sign because the truth about war doesn't come out till it's too late. Basically war is the most insane act of ants and human beings that anyone can imagine. Pulling the trigger on another human being has never solved one thing.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:22 PM   #13
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wrong thread for my response
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arc View Post
I need to tap the wisdom on this board regarding the Army. My 17 yr old - Jr in High School - wants to join the Army Reserves now under the split option program. He does boot camp between Jr / Sr year then when he graduates High School he goes in - his intent is to go Full Time active duty as soon as he can. We talk to the recruiter tomorrow - what questions do I need to ask? We are supportive though we don't know if this is best way for him to join. Any help would be appreciated.
He reminds me of me at that age. All I wanted to do was get the hell out of town and tackle an irresistible challenge, and the military happened to be the first thing to come along that fit the bill. Are those his motivations? Could those motivations be realized in some other manner?

Would he rather go to college, let alone a service academy? At the very least he needs to hear the recruiter's explanation of the GI Bill.

Does your son feel ready for college? My nephew (an Army Ranger) enlisted out of high school because he didn't feel he was ready for college (wrong!). After two deployments to Afghanistan and a few more months of behind-the-lines pregame for Iraq's opening day, suddenly college didn't seem so scary. USMA welcomed a combat veteran with open arms, and today he's a 2LT going back through Ranger school again.

Of all the ways to enlist, the Reserves offers the most wiggle room. If your son wants to try the military with as little commitment as possible, this is the way to do it. If he decides during boot camp (or senior year) that the Army isn't what he had in mind, he'll be able to get free with a lot less hassle than if he enlisted on active duty. If he changes his mind about college and wants to go ROTC or even USMA then he'll have Army experience on his résumé. OTOH if he wants to return to civilian life, drag his feet, stop going to drills, and generally be uncooperative about the whole enlistment contract then he'll probably be administratively discharged and never permitted to join the military again. He'll get an OTHD or a general discharge which will have no impact (either way) on his college or career choices. He wouldn't be able to get away with that very easily on an active-duty enlistment contract.

Infantry gives him plenty of ways to look around and decide what specialty he wants to tackle... sort of "try before you buy". Another option would be to take the ASVAB and whatever other skills/interests assessments they offer and see if something really tickles his fancy. If he's really looking for a hardcore physical infantry skill then he should enlist for Ranger training and make noises about going SF.

It's really really hard to persuade a teenager that a signing bonus is just money. Hopefully he's developing a sense of cynicism about the government and will appreciate that there's a reason for them being so nice to him.

Despite their friendly & professional manner, you'll have to remember that the recruiter is no more your friend than your son's friend. Like a used-car salesman, there are things he's required to tell you by law but he won't tell you anything more than that. And like a car salesman, by the end of the month/quarter he'll be truly desperate to make quota. It'll help a lot if you can bring a family member, a friend, or even a co-worker to these meetings who's on active duty, in the Reserves, or at least a veteran. They'll be able to smell the odor of evasive answers as soon as it starts happening.
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:37 PM   #15
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I joined the Army when I was 17. My mom said she felt like she gave her son away when she signed. She wanted me to get a job in computers and I ended up selecting a calvary scout and I also had jump school put in my contract. I was not very pupular at home for a while.

So during basic training when everyone got orders all but 6 of us went to Frankfurt Germany to end up in the 2nd or 11th ACR. The other 6 all had orders for this place called the 82d replacement detachment I remember asking what is this. The Drill Sgt said do you have jump school in your contract. I said yes and he said "son you are going to the 82d Abn Division. The next day the 6 of us were pulled out for extra PT with the company XO (1Lt) to get ready for jump school I remember him telling us "Men jump school was tough I didn't make it." What a wuss! 30-45 days later I was finished at jump school and in my unit at Ft Bragg. For me it was a blast.

If you can keep your son focused at the MEPS and he has some time assuming his ASVAB score he can pretty much get what he wants on the timeline he wants. After 4 yrs in the Army and 2 yrs in the reserves I was comissioned in the Air Force. I look back fondly at my Army days as these were the days where I think I really matured and grew up but at the time I was not thinking long term. I had plenty of time to think about college when I was setting at an LP/OP as a scout so when I went to school my head was in the right place. We really got to do some neat things and being a sudo ground pounder really put things in perspective. Now in the AF I do something completely different.

I think its great you are supporting your son, but I know for me at 17 & 18 I thought I was invensible. He needs your wisdom and if you can get him to talk to soldiers at various levels of service time and rank first hand that would be good. We have brightest folks today and they are good at what they do. The more he is aware of what he is walking into the better. But one thing for sure, If its not in writing its probably not going to happen.

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Old 02-08-2008, 09:58 PM   #16
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Have direct experience with this one. Youngest son wanted to go military since 5th grade. Wanted Mom and I to sign when he was a junior in H.S. we said wait,think about it,look at the options. Well he looked at the options and decided the Marines were what he wanted. We said not signing. However his Birthday is Sept 3rd, so he turned 18 the day after starting his Senior year. Sooo,We ended up signing anyway about a month before his B-day.He's in Iraq as i write this,not sure if its what he thought it would be, but .. Is it what his mother and I wanted, no, but we feel he made the decision after thinking and it wasn't our decision to make. After saying that ,try to get him to delay the decision as long as possible. Al
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Old 02-09-2008, 12:32 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Notmuchlonger View Post
One thing about being infantry as long as you are not deployed you tend to get alot of off time. While lets say an Army recruiter works his behind off constantly. Both fields have a great deal of pressure but different.
One difference that jumps to mind is that recruiters don't have IEDs looking for them.

If one of my sons wanted to join the army I would do anything I possibly could to dissuade him, and I certainly would not sign him up. Like another poster said, he may move on to other interests that don’t involve getting shot at in that year between 17 and 18, and never revisit this idea. And if he does later go on into infantry, you will know that you did what you could.

I just saw the post above-14th Med, may God go with your son, and bring him home safely.

Ha
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Old 02-09-2008, 05:53 AM   #18
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I Congratulate him for his intentions. Sounds like me at his age, although I did not finish HS (actually dropped out in 9th grade), I just went in, no options, no commitments, no guarantees. Probably, not the best way to do it but I did stay over 20 years, spent time in the Infantry, completed HS and a 4 year college degree (BS) while serving, served about 8 years as an enlisted NCO, then was appointed as a Warrant Office and "retired" at 38 years old with lifetime COLA'd pay and medical. OK, end of commercial!

As already has been mentioned. If he knows what he wants to do ask for it. If he knows where he wants to be stationed ask for it. You may want to ask what type of aptitude testing they will provide BEFORE the signature to determine the fields he MAY do well in. Ask what fields will provide the best chance of advancement AND ask about the Officer programs that may be available for him. Can he go to college on the Army's (or other service) dime and come out an officer (College ROTC Program). You may also want to check with other service programs (Navy, AF). I have a Nephew who basically was ready to drop out of college after the first year - that went into a Navy Medical program and is now a serving Navy Doctor. I also have a Son who is a serving Navy Officer now who went to the Naval Academy, has a Masters Degree and is due back from Iraq next month - great educational route (very tough program but it can be done). This is a decision that will greatly impact his life he needs to consider all of his options. However, if he just wants to "jump in" the Army and take his chances - I can understand that and really cannot see anything wrong with doing it that way either.
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:07 AM   #19
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My advice, as a mother, is this:

Tell him that you will not sign.

When he is old enough to sign on his own, you need to support his decision concerning the Army completely and without reservations. But right now, he is too young to make this decision on his own. Right now, he should be exploring all of life's options and preparing, not rushing into this or any other decision.

When we are young, we want desperately to be older. Only time will make that happen, though.
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Old 02-09-2008, 07:26 AM   #20
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If you can keep your son focused at the MEPS and he has some time assuming his ASVAB score he can pretty much get what he wants on the timeline he wants. Tomcat98
First - thanks to all the great responses - it is a tremendous help. On the MEPS matter - am I allowed to accompany him? Should I? I'm thinking that - for my sake - I need to.

Thanks again!
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