The following is a previous version of the leaflet we handed out in 2011-2012, entitled “Know Before You Go: Some facts to consider before signing up…”. Included below are links to the sources the information was gathered from.
Before you sign that military contract, ask yourself if you really want to go through with it. After all, this IS your life we are talking about!
Chances are quite good you will be approached by a military recruiter in the near future. And while your experience may vary, more than likely they will give you a pretty hard sell as to why you should sign up to serve in the armed forces. They will tell you about opportunities provided by the military. They will tell you what you want to hear. They have a quota to make, and they are good at what they do.
Perhaps you are thinking that such a move would give you a leg up in life. But you need to think this through. Sure, it would provide a job in some sense of the word, but is it one you want to keep? What happens when you return to civilian life? According to a recent report authored by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), veterans returning from service often have a harder time finding employment and earn substantially less than their non-veteran peers (source).
But also consider the fact that, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV), veterans are three times more likely to end up homeless than non-veterans. Why would this be? While there are a number of contributing factors, the fact that vets are subject to increased risks of alcoholism, drug addiction, and severe depression play a major role. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 20% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a significant factor in the record high suicide rates currently being seen in this veteran population (source, source, source).
These indirect risks attributed to military service are in addition to the obvious dangers one will be subject to while serving in a war zone. Soldiers shoot and are shot at. Soldiers kill and soldiers die. Injury and death are realities of war. And while not often reported, so is sexual assault. Both men and women run a higher risk of rape and assault from their peers while serving in the armed forces, but it is women who bear the brunt of this crime, with 1 in 3 female veterans reporting being a victim of sexual assault or rape while on active duty (source).
But maybe you think these risks don’t apply to you, or that you won’t be deployed to a war zone. Perhaps your recruiter has assured you that that will not happen. Maybe the job you are signing up for, after all, is not a combat position. DON’T COUNT ON IT!
Our nation is still at war and job assignments will not always be what you expect – READ THE CONTRACT! Section 9b says that assignments can be changed at anytime. Furthermore, even after you complete your time in active duty, in most cases the contract states that you are actually obligated for a full 8 years and can be called back to active service anytime during this duration. Know what you are signing up for (source).
Already signed on that dotted line?
If you signed up under the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), it is important to know that you do NOT have to go! Regardless of what your recruiter says, you can simply choose not to report to MEPS on your ship date. Details can be found here: girightshotline.org/en/military-knowledge-base/topic/delayed-entry-program-discharge-dep-discharge
The GI Rights Hotline (girightshotline.org) provides service members, veterans, potential recruits, and family members accurate information, confidential counseling, and in some cases, legal advice. They can be reached at 1-877-447-4487. Calls are confidential.
Funding for College
We realize the lure of money for college offered by the armed forces can be an attractive proposition for many. But there are other alternatives! Here’s a short list:
Check out Collegebound Nebraska (collegeboundnebraska.com) to see if you qualify for tuition assistance.
Did you know that 75% of UNL’s new freshmen receive scholarships and/or gift aid toward payment of their tuition? In fact, 35% of full-time UNL students receive financial gift aid equal to or greater than the cost of tuition. Most students are eligible for student loans with no required payments until after graduation. Contact UNL admissions (admissions.unl.edu/value/index.aspx) for more information.
At SCC, more than 70% of the student body receives some form of financial aid. Awards are based on both need and achievement. See southeast.edu/admissions/costs_and_financialaid.
AmeriCorps (americorps.gov) offers some adventure as well as rewarding, meaningful work, and can provide over $5000/yr to spend towards a college education for each year of service. Check them out!