10 Things to Know Before Joining the Army

By | January 12, 2016

[January 12, 2016]  Anyone considering joining the Army and making a commitment for several years, has wished there were some things someone had explained about our service beforehand.  Teenagers straight out of high school are attracted by the glamour and potential excitement of service but are often disappointed.  What are ten things you should know before joining the army?

  1. The Army has core values: It’s expected that you learn them and follow those values in your everyday life.  Not just follow them while on duty but in all aspects of your life while at work or at home.  Look them up and start now living your life by them now.
  2. Army leaders expect you to do your job: They also expect you to excel at what you do and to become a leader yourself.  If you are unwilling to lead people you are not going to do well.
  3. A positive, outgoing personality will help you: Whining, complaining, smugness, elitism, nastiness, sexism, racism, and other objectionable attitudes will hold you back.  Those soldiers who are the most positive in whatever they do will be rewarded the most.
  4. Expect to be held responsible for your actions:  Ne’er-do-wells and others who are irresponsible can be expected to be punished.  So don’t be late to anything, slack off, fail to do every task assigned, etc.
  5. The Army is a bureaucracy with many rules: There are lots of paperwork and even more paperwork.  It can be very frustrating (and it never goes away) but learn quickly how to navigate it for the greatest benefit.
  6. You will spend a lot of time outdoors:  The military is created for combat and combat doesn’t happen in a classroom.  Those in the Army, especially those in the combat arms, spend much of their time outside where it can be very cold, hot, dusty, rainy, etc. and you may not get much sleep.
  7. The Army will station you where they need you:  Get used to being told where to live and when to move.  The needs of the Army supersede your needs and desires.  Remember, you’re not special or deserving of anything.  Oh, military bases are not the greatest places to live.
  8. You’ll never get rich in the Army:  They pay is average at best and raises are at the whim of the political elites.  What the army will teach you is how to survive and do well in a large organization.  Those skills are indispensable on the outside.
  9. Be prepared to network and be your own advocate:  It pays to be aggressive in getting to know people.  They can help you and will do so gladly if you show an interest.  Show your superiors you are interested in doing more and have skills they can use.
  10. The Army rewards those who do more than expected:  Many soldiers just do what they’re told and have a “9 to 5” mentality.  Being the best among your peers means doing a little extra all the time.  It doesn’t take intelligence but it does take endurance and persistence.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.