If you were to believe all the advertising, all the branches of the military offer you endless and wonderful benefits. That is not true at all. While all the branches offer the same category of benefits, they do not offer the same amount of them. For instance, the Marines receive the least in pay and benefit compensation. The Air Force has some of the highest compensations and best military benefits (in pay and benefits) of them all.
While the armed forces always emphasizes the benefits possible when trying to recruit you, it is also important to keep in mind that being a member of the armed forces means you may be sent into combat, you have little say in your assignments or deployments, and that all of this is based on a signed contract that you are not legally allowed to quit until the contract is done. Becoming a soldier is serious business and something you shouldn’t do just for the benefits. Remember also that the benefits you receive will depend not only on the branch you are in, but your rank.
One of the best military benefits is that they provide you with your housing. For unmarried enlisted personnel, this may be in a dorm or barracks, which is shared housing. Sometimes it may mean sharing a room with 20 or 30 people and only a locker for personal belongings, but more and more it means sharing living quarters with one additional person so it is more of a roommate situation. If you are married or of a higher rank; then you may receive military housing. These are townhouses or separate houses at the base. It is also possible, on an individual basis, to be approved for off-base housing. With off-base housing you will receive an allowance but the full cost may or may not be paid. An exception to this is made for recruiters; their off base housing is covered completely.
Just about everyone knows about the G.I. Bill. If you enlist and serve out your contract you can then go study at any participating college in the US that you are accepted at and the military will pay your tuition and book cost. It is important to realize that this bill only applies to undergraduate degrees.
If you enlist and already have a bachelor’s, you will not be able to use this benefit. However, one of the little known facts about the education benefits that make it one of the best military benefits offered is the services maintain their own programs of study within different job classification and also have accredited distance programs that are free for you to take when you are in service. Some military members actually complete their degree programs using Tuition Assistance and are able to pass their GI Bill benefits down to their children. All of this can be transferred to civilian institutions and is acceptable education on a resume. Education benefits may also be received by a spouse through a program called MY CAA where they can receive up to $6000 in financial assistance for education.
When you are active duty, you are part of a healthcare system that will take excellent care of you at no cost. Not just you, but your family. When you are discharged, you may become eligible for care through the Veteran’s administration at greatly reduced cost. If you retire, you and your spouse will still continue to receive great medical care with small co-pays and minimal prescription fees. This is better than most health insurance offered by any other employer. This plan also extends to your children up to 23 if still in school and for an additional cost up to 26.
If you are an active duty soldier; after 20 years of service you can retire. Let’s look at this for a moment; if you are an E7 making $3500 base pay, you will receive $1750 per month in retirement. If you are disabled; you may receive additional monies each month. Now I know you may be thinking that this is not enough to truly retire on, but depending on your lifestyle and planning; you may be able to work part time only and live quite comfortably.
For anyone considering a career in the military; the benefits are among the best in the world. Where else will you receive free healthcare, housing, education and fitness training? So if you think you have what it takes, one of the Armed Forces may be just what you need to secure your future.