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Old 03-26-2012, 05:08 PM   #1
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Default Career advice, active duty vs reserves

I'm supposed to go to Parris Island for bootcamp in 20 days and I have every intention of doing so, but lately I've been thinking about going into the reserves instead of active duty. The only thing I am 100% certain of is that I want to be a Marine, and I don't want to go back to having a shitty job. I have the better part (I'd say 75%) of a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, maybe I'd have another year as a full time student before I'm done.
I'm thinking if I go reserves I could use my degree to be a game warden, or park ranger and then once I have 2 years experience I could have a shot at getting into a federal agency, FBI, US Marshals something along those lines I would like. I'll be 22 the day I ship (), meaning I'd be 26 when I get out of I do A.D.
I got out of school because I was not motivated, I think bootcamp and a career path (which I did not have last time I was in school) would motivate me to finish my degree.

If I went reserves I'd get to do stuff like work on my car and do stuff I like and get into a career. This means I'd be able to retire sooner, which is very good.

If I went active I would not be able to get out if I end up not liking it. I'd have more $ and would still probably have time to work on my car, but not as much. I could have my degree done or almost done by the time I get out, and A.D. would look good on a resume. Its worth mentioning that I generally like hanging out with Marines (and military people in general) more then 'normal' people. Generally. I think it would be good for me to get away and do my own thing.
The only thing I'd be away from that is here in cinci are my parents, there isn't anyone else I'd really miss that much since my friends are all joining the military too.

What say y'all?

And I'm not joining the Peace Corps.
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:41 PM   #2
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Wish I could give you advice as the reasons are well thought out. From my perspective, thank you for your future service!!! Godspeed.
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Old 03-26-2012, 05:48 PM   #3
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Thank you for your support!

I'll probably end up doing active duty, but I may switch my MOS from Combat Support to Mil. Police.
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:10 PM   #4
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Like my daddy, a Navy retiree, said: 'Remember, the needs of the Navy come first.'

That said: If you even 'think' you will want to get out because you're not going to like it, don't bother.
The reality is there are going to be times you're not only not going to like it, you're going to hate it. But if you 'embrace the suck' and determine yourself to go through whatever they throw at you, you'll do well.

It's not permanent. There are literally thousands of jobs of interest in the Corps.
It is what you make of it.
Do yourself a favor and read :
http://www.amazon.com/Marine-The-Life-Chesty-Puller/dp/0553271822/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332795547&sr=1-1 http://www.amazon.com/Marine-The-Life-Chesty-Puller/dp/0553271822/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332795547&sr=1-1

You'll still go to college on your Uncle's dime. Or, go ROTC in college if you can qualify. That's another good path.
Good luck, remember, life is an adventure...
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:14 PM   #5
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AD is an excelllent way to get out and become your own man. The reserves may frustrate you a bit once you're out of boot camp. They want your weekends and two weeks in the summer. The reserves will help you pay for college, but they can't motivate you to go - only maturity can motivate you to go to college. Go active and invest in the GI Bill and they'll pay for college once you get out of the service.

Another thing to think about - with the current "Save-the-Soldiers" laws, we (reservists) are significantly less marketable to prospective employers. No employer wants to hire someone with the risk that they will not be able to get rid of you when you leave them for a year. If the government would get rid of those damned laws, I might be able to find a good career civilian-side, but since that will never happen, I'm fucked until we stop playing war.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:46 PM   #6
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Join the Peace Corps.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by fooger03 View Post
AD is an excelllent way to get out and become your own man. The reserves may frustrate you a bit once you're out of boot camp. They want your weekends and two weeks in the summer. The reserves will help you pay for college, but they can't motivate you to go - only maturity can motivate you to go to college. Go active and invest in the GI Bill and they'll pay for college once you get out of the service.

Another thing to think about - with the current "Save-the-Soldiers" laws, we (reservists) are significantly less marketable to prospective employers. No employer wants to hire someone with the risk that they will not be able to get rid of you when you leave them for a year. If the government would get rid of those damned laws, I might be able to find a good career civilian-side, but since that will never happen, I'm fucked until we stop playing war.
I think your right, I'll stay AD. Thanks. Maybe I'll be able to do some on line classes when I'm in and finish my bachelors.
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Old 03-27-2012, 01:41 AM   #8
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I spent my time active duty in camp lejeune as an 0351. It sucked but I did more in my 4 years than most people do in a lifetime. I went to mcrd san diego and soi at pendelton. Regardless what you choose get an mos that has a career in the civilian world. I can be a cop, a contractor, and not much else based on my marine corps career. Although, now I run the geek squad at a best buy.

Thanks to my fubar back, hearing, and ptsd I do get a little help every month, which is nice.
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Old 03-27-2012, 01:50 AM   #9
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I spent my time active duty in camp lejeune as an 0351. It sucked but I did more in my 4 years than most people do in a lifetime. I went to mcrd san diego and soi at pendelton. Regardless what you choose get an mos that has a career in the civilian world. I can be a cop, a contractor, and not much else based on my marine corps career. Although, now I run the geek squad at a best buy.

Thanks to my fubar back, hearing, and ptsd I do get a little help every month, which is nice.
Thanks for the advice. I think I'm gonna talk to my recruiter and see if I can be an MP, that will at least help if I decide I want to go down the fed. law enforcement rout. I'm not seeing a lot of information about combat support on the internet and I sure as ---- don't want to end up doing something I end up hating. At least with MP I have a better idea of what I would be doing since it isn't as broad an MOS.

Sorry to hear about your back, hearing and ptsd, hope yeah start feeling better real soon.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:25 AM   #10
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You want my opinion? Probably not, but I'll give it anyway.

I'd go AD myself. Looking back on some choices I've made in life, NOT joining MC in 2001 was probably the mistake I regret the most. Even more so, two years ago I could have fixed that lapse in judgement but for some reason unknown to myself chose not to do so. Having several friends who have begun and ended very successful careers in the military service helps my case, but I can't really say what of this would apply to you directly.

Other points made are very valid, it's a great way to go out and 'make a man' of yourself. The training and education which may be available to you could benefit your future greatly, and consider the fact that AD doesn't mean you're in it for the true 'long haul.' Something to keep in mind, this isn't going to be a walk in the park but I'm sure you understand that. My closest friend enlisted in 2002 and was shipped off to Iraq directly off the Island where he spent 8 years manning a desk at some base (I think it was Al Asad) in charge of aircraft tools for 14 hours a day... He made really good money doing so, especially considering he re-enlisted while deployed..

Now, if you want the advice of my Late Grandfather PFC Ernest Han, "You stay away from those God Damn Mother ******* in the Marine Corps."

Whatever your decision is, I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:48 AM   #11
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Thanks! Opinions are good when they come from a good source, experience in life makes good advice.
The 'making a man' thing is the core of why I'm joining. I'm almost 22 and I'm still living at home, not something I'm proud of. I know being in the MC will benefit me in many ways, I'll probably only do 4 years and then after that if I decide I want in as a career I'll finish school and become an officer so I can make bank. My little brother was able to give me an excellent idea of what bootcamp will be like, which was that it wasn't as bad as he thought it was going to be in most ways. The surprising thing for him was being away from home was not only harder then he thought it was going to be, but it ended up being the hardest part of bootcamp for him.
If your friend stayed in for 8 years that means he probably re-enlisted, in which case he probably got a crazy re-enlistment bonus (upper 5 figures from what I've heard in 2006), not to mention extra pay for other things.

I think I just have pre-bootcamp jitters. Also, your grandpa sounds like a smart guy.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:25 AM   #12
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Having been an Air Force cop (Technically Security Forces) I don't recommend the Marine Core. Living conditions alone changed my mind on branches. The jobs aren't that different. We worked with and supplemented the other branches. Now that I have that out. Active duty is a much bigger experience. Boot camp will make you miss home , I joined TOO get away and still missed it a bit. That's kinda the point of breaking you down/building you up though. There will be days of AD that seems to last forever, but the next thing you know it's almost over. At least you're joining after the age of 21. Trust me being too young to drink and being in the military will make you slit your wrists. We couldn't bring the new guys with us anywhere when I was stationed in Vegas. The reserves has its plus too. You can go home live your life, work where ya want. Then go "active guard reserve"(AGR) on orders for 6months+ somewhere, get payed bank, then go home and win.

Example: Ex girlfriend of mine was Guard. She was AGR in Vegas for a year+, then went to Italy for a year, then went back to Georgia and changed careers. Now she's somewhere doing something -----y.

The 9/11 bill isn't so bad either. The wife is on it and it has it's benefits over the G.I. bill. If you get messed up Vocational Rehab is nice, it's what I'm rocking. You can also Clep stuff while your in to knock out some easy classes. Don't know what you do/don't have done.

If you need help looking into the educational side of stuff shoot me a PM. My mom works in the education office and would be happy to help. Also my mom was kinda a sissy about me being gone for years. There is a whole network of military moms for support and help. Don't know your mom, but when she found that she didn't bug me nearly as much.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:05 PM   #13
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Thanks TorqueZombie. I'm diffidently joining the Marines, even if the standard of living is the worst in the armed services.
Are you able to take on line classes when your active duty?
My parents aren't too happy about me going AD either, especially since both my brother and I will be gone and their convinced they wont barely ever see us for the next 4 years, which I don't think is necessarily the case depending on where we're stationed and assuming we're not deployed.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:16 PM   #14
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I went reserves to finish school... but if I didnt have schooling to worry about, I would have stayed active... better health benefits and pay, along with faster promotional advancement, also on base housing is pretty bauce.

reserves are pretty nice when you want to get away from the whole military feel, because it does get old and makes you to want to pull your non existent hair out.
I like going home after 6 month tours, and not have to go back after 1-2 weeks of leave...

Last edited by Pen2_the_penguin; 03-27-2012 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 03-27-2012, 03:51 PM   #15
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FINISH UP YOUR DEGREEE!!!!!!

If you're 75% of the way there, then there is no part of joining now that makes sense. If you seriously only have 1 year equivalent of schoolwork left, then take a double load and a summer school, plus whatever else you have to do to finish up as soon as you can. At this point, it really doesn't matter how much it costs. Quit your job, take out a personal loan, sell the car, borrow from your parents and move in with them to save money, ditch the girlfriend, eat ramen... whatever it takes. Finish your degree, and then join as an officer.

Any degree automatically qualifies you for a commission, and currently, just about any degree ensures an offer in the Marines or Army. The Air Force is currently being a little picky, and the Navy is usually very stable in it's recruiting numbers.

I am a proud officer, and am sure I would have been a very proud and successful enlisted man... but with a year left of school, you are a fool to enlist vice finishing up and getting a commission.

That being said, there are a lot of Enlisted-to-Officer programs in the services. Very promising enlisted types can qualify for a program that sends them back to college to finish a degree, and are granted a commission on the backside. We call it Seaman-to-Admiral PROGRAM, or STA-21. But STA programs only really make sense if don't have a lot of college already.

The reason I'm telling you this is because to advance beyond the E-6 in the military nowadays, it's almost a requirement to have a degree. Most of my 1st Class Petty Officers and Chiefs are mostly complete or have bachelors degrees... they are a huge check-in-the-block on your promotion boards. You'll be eligible for promotion to 1st Class, or Gunnery Seargent or whatever rank equals the first rank of non-commissioned officer at about year 12 as a typical enlisted.

As an Officer having achieved 12 years, I currently make the equivalent of $135k a year... and all I've ever done is my job (if that makes sense). An E-6 at my same timeline makes $80k equivalent... and he will have had to straight bust his *** the entire time he's been in, and have earned a degree on the side if he wants to promote higher. I will promote higher by simply waking up and fogging the mirror while I shave every morning. Enlisted men will attest that this is all that's really required to be an officer sometimes.

At the beginning of your service, base pay for an E-1 (Airman or Seaman) is currently $1491mo. An 0-1 (Ensign or 2ndLT) makes $2828mo... DOUBLE. That's your BASE PAY... does not include housing pay, subsistence, special pay, flight pay, sea pay, combat pay, and about 20 other "pay's" you may be eligible for. For example, my FLIGHT PAY is $650mo tax free.

AS far as federal options on the backside... there is very little that Military ENLISTED police work is going to do for you. You can't go be an FBI agent after being a military cop for a tour... you have nothing valuable to them. The various Federal Law Enforcement Agencies are not about being cops, they're about intelligence. The FBI wants guys with economics/acounting/math degrees who can analyze data and do the math to figure out what the bad guys are up to.

!!!PAY ATTENTION!!!
I know what I'm talking about here. I live and breathe this stuff everyday. I have an in-depth working knowledge of this stuff. I'm in an active-duty aviator working in a reserve squadron. We have 2 FBI agents that fly with us, 2 customs guys, and 1 dea. I have picked their brains at length.

WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IS finish your degree in criminal justice. IT WOULD BE AWESOME if you could somehow work in an econ/math minor. While you are finishing school, get cozy with all the officer recruiters in your area. Have them buttered up and salivating for you to have that degree in your hand. Tell them you're looking for an INTEL job (I really hope you have no criminal background). Get your commission as an INTEL officer. Do your initial commitment... it will be 4-6 years depending on your contract. You'll be a Lieutenant or Captain when complete. During that time, GET YOUR MASTERS IN ANYTHING on the side... perferable ecom/math, but do some homework on what the federal agencies are really looking for. You will make lots of friends in various federal law enforcement agencies as an INTEL dude. Start rushing them towards the end of your time as an officer. DID I MENTION THE BENEFIT OF HAVING A TOP-SECRET CLEARANCE PRIOR to applying to a federal agency?

If you haven't already signed a contract with the Marine recruiter and been sworn in, go talk to him about your officer possibilities. Go talk to a Navy recruiter in your area as well. Local district recruiters have an inside network and talk to eachother... even if you've already signed a contract with the Marines, you may be able to talk a Navy Officer Recruiter into getting it cancelled if you apply for a ROTC scholarship and are accepted... or maybe that Marine recruiter just needs you to show a little sack and the drive to be an officer to help you get selected for a special program that just had an opening... or whatever.

You have my advice... that is all.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:07 PM   #16
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Thanks Sam.
I've been in the delayed entry program for maybe 10 months (partially due to breaking a bone in my ankle), I swore in at MEPS a looooong time ago. I'll see how many credits I have, and if I am as far as I think I am towards a degree, I'll strongly consider leaving the DEP, finishing my degree and becoming an officer. However, I have many reasons for wanting to join, getting out of the house is a big one, but I wont let that cloud my judgment.
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Old 03-27-2012, 04:42 PM   #17
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Get your degree. What Sam navy said is spot on. You can quit going enlisted. They'll make it sound like you can't. You can
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:35 PM   #18
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You can walk out until they cut off all your hair.
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Old 03-27-2012, 05:47 PM   #19
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If you go to MEPS to back out on enlisting they'll keep you there for hours trying to make you feel bad, call you a traitor cause you already swore in, blah, blah. Drive yourself there DO NOT ride there with a recruiter.
I was originally going to join the Army. Got tot MEPS, did the whole testing thing, didn't swear in yet, but they wanted me to be a helicopter mechanic. NOPE. I wanted EOD. They didn't have it. I told them I'm in no hurry and to call me when it wwas available. The guys there hit the roof. Kept me there for hours trying to convince me to join or join open general. Long story short. It's your life - not theirs. Do what you want cause if you don't you'll hate yourself. +1 for powering through school and being an officer.
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Old 03-28-2012, 03:42 AM   #20
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I just remembered something, I had a sh*tty GPA, I think I was even on academic probation at one point. From what I've read GPA is something they look for in candidates for OCS, is this true? I would like to be an officer, but I'm not going to give up a chance to be a Marine and gamble on getting a good enough GPA to get into OCS if thats what I need. If I leave the DEP I would have a difficult time getting back in.
Sam, do candidates for OCS have different recruiters, or would it be the same one as I have now?
Could I do say, a year as enlisted and try to make the switch to officer once I have the credits for my BS? This would be a safe bet if its possible.
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