Preparing for a military career

Joining the military is something that most youngsters will consider at least once as they grow up. Some will be drawn towards a military career thanks to the prevalence of Hollywood action movies, depicting stories of heroism, bravery and excitement. Others will be attracted primarily by the perceived prestige that is attached to the uniform, medals and so on (there are, of course, plenty of grown adults who walk around in military garb, despite never having served, hoping to improve their image in the eyes of others). Older kids might see a military career as being the most practical choice for them – they get paid to learn new skills, meet new friends, travel the world. They might even be able to get a college degree without having to pay for it.

Of course, there is a chance of having to fight. For some, the idea of hunting down the enemy door-to-door, with an M4 carbine, or jumping out of a helicopter to board a pirate vessel, is exactly why they choose to join up in the first place. However, over 80% of enlisted jobs are actually non-combat roles. You will be trained to fight, should it ever be necessary, but you’re more likely to spend your time interpreting images on a computer screen, fixing engines, cooking or any of the hundreds of other roles available.

Before you join up, it’s important to learn as much as you can about your options and the different roles available to you. The more developed your skills are, the more options you will have. Being able to demonstrate strong math and problem solving skills, command of a foreign language, scientific and engineering knowledge, along with solid examples of leadership and teamwork, perseverance and self-discipline will make you attractive to all branches of the military and for a wide variety of roles. Of course, fitness is an essential aspect of military service. Elite combat roles require the fittest individuals. If you are out of shape, don’t panic – you will need to get into shape to a point where you can be accepted as a recruit or a cadet. After that, the military will take charge of your training. The best advice regarding this is just to be as physically prepared as possible – such candidates get the most out of basic training and are more likely to be fast-tracked. This is because they are used to the physical and mental toll that exercise takes, and are therefore able to pay more attention to learning protocol, drill, combat techniques and other aspects of training.

Good physical and mental health are essential for officers, soldiers and sailors. Certain conditions will outright bar you from service and it is important to find out what the requirements are for the branch and job that you are interested in. Careers offices can often help out with this. Before you are accepted into the military, you will need to undergo a rigorous medical examination. Don’t try to hide any conditions you may have – even if the condition does not preclude you from service, the fact that you tried to hide it most certainly will.

Be sure to take care of your eyesight and hearing. Don’t stay up at night staring at your smartphone in the dark. If you are going to listen to music through headphones, be sure to choose ones that you know are safe, such as the ones here at Dextro Audio.

Get used to doing pushups, running while carrying weights, running in boots (this is a big one) and swimming. Work on your upper body strength. Get involved in team activities and get used to showing leadership and taking the initiative. Encourage others as much as possible.

At home, offer to take on as many chores as you can handle – cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, ironing and folding clothes, carrying heavy tools etc. These are the things that you’ll be expected to do every day in the junior ranks, including junior officers. Don’t be complacent – push yourself and be disciplined. Take the same attitudes with your studies and your physical training. If you’ve previously been a bit of a tearaway, channel your energy into your training. Many kids, who looked like they would become troublemakers, have joined up and gone on to become highly respected and decorated veterans.