It's borderline disrespectful to talk about anyone in the U.S. military in generalizations, including military recruiters. Unfortunately, even the gatekeepers of the military, who have a job to do and quotas to meet, it is still possible for a recruit to find himself at the mercy of his own ignorance when joining the military. As always, knowing what to listen for is the best defense against misinformation and making a decision that will impact the next several years of his or her life. As a hedge against making what could be the biggest mistake of a recruit's life thus far, he or she should simply research what a recuiter is saying, ask more questions than the recruiter is comfortable answering, and refusing to make any lasting decision or signing any contract before making absolutely sure that's the route desired.
While an equally foolish generalization is criticizing the importance of the military recruitment system and the role it plays in filling the gaps of the U.S. military, I'm convinced that a lot of the inaccurate information that is spun to meet recruitment quotas would be better off eliminated. I'm not necessarily talking about the responsibility a recruiter has to illustrate a given point as optimistically as possible-which is salesmanship 101-but the outright lies being told to kids whose military experience is limited to what they see on Modern Warfare 3.
Here we have some of the more common lines that military recruiters have used in the interest of drawing an unwitting, uninformed recruits into the military fold.
They Don't Yell at Recruits In Basic Training
Nope. Whatever you might expect in boot camp, you can rest assured that drill commanders of every branch still yell at their recruits. Things have changed somewhat over the years, but as old of an organization as the military is, there are some things that haven't changed at all. Often enough, though, there is still some confusion as to why this seemingly antiquated practice is still in play at basic training facilities.
Many recruits, as young as the average age is, haven't yet been exposed to high stress situations. If they have been, it's often restricted to fights at home, fights in school, athletics, work, and the like. In most of these situations, the recruit probably hasn't had to focus on an objective and had time and opportunity to emotionally recuperate from whatever stressful situation he or she may have been subjected to. During boot camp, the principle behind the practice is to teach the recruit to overcome the feeling of overwhelming emotion and focus on the objective by blocking out or coping with external stressors.
The times have changed enormously since the "old days" as lifers or military retirees may call them, since studies have shown that the practice of screaming at recruits isn't as effective as once believed. True as it may be that things have toned down, it's still going on.
"You Don't Have to Cut Your Hair in Boot Camp Anymore!"
Another falsehood. This shouldn't be the deciding factor for a young person considering joining the military, but hey, everyone's got different priorities. Everyone who makes it to the pavement at their basic training facility will have their haircut before much time goes by. Innocuous as this may seem, understanding the principle behind this boot camp practice is as important as the previous one.
Uniformity. One of the main themes to every basic training experience is instilling the recruit division with a sense of uniformity and one-in-the-sameness. Again, it seems innocuous, superficial even, but the haircut is definitely part of the basic training experience. The theory is that if you have one guy or girl who stands out as an individual, you end up with a whole bunch of individuals and no division. This doesn't bode well for a group of people trying to achieve a single goal.
"I Can Guarantee You the Job/Duty Station You Want"
A recruit's job assignment, not to be confused with the duty station, actually isn't in the hands of the recruiter. When a recruit is sent to the local MEPS (Military Entrance and Processing Station)usually after a couple meetings with the recruiter, a lot of paperwork, discussion of pre-requisites, receiving results from the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test, and at least a preliminary conversation about possible jobs-only then is the recruit in a position to negotiate what job he or she will have in the military.
This call isn't made by the recruiter at all, although the recruiter is responsible for determining eligibility and should explain to the recruit what he/she does or does not qualify for, and hopefully provided some honest insight into the nature of the jobs the recruit has shown interest in. The person actually assigning a job is known as the classifier. If a recruiter promises you a job at the office, he's lying. That's not his to promise.
Once given a job, you may be given a slightly better idea where you'll end up for technical, military job training. Where you ultimately end up for the duration of your service obligation will actually be determined after technical training, according to the needs of the military. If you say "Oh, I'd like to be stationed in Italy for four years" and your recruiter tells you he can make that happen; or, as is more likely the case he say something like "There's a good chance you'll end up there if you get this or that job, since we have a base there..." be wary.
It really is worth mentioning again that not all recruiters will resort to these methods to get a recruit to sign the dotted line. Nor is there any truth to the suspicion that a recruiter is paid more or has an incentive (other than his or her performance review) to get more recruits signed up. The vast majority of military recruiters are honest people simply doing their jobs and doing it as well as possible. Unfortunately, the reality is that recruits still, and will continue to be duped into military service.