Military Information

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How do I enlist and for how long?

You may enlist by going to the local recruiting office of the branch of the military in which you are interested.You can find this address in the local telephone directory.You can also connect to the individual branch recruiting page for more information on how to enlist.

Enlisting involves entering a legal contract with the particular branch of service selected. The service agrees to provide a job, pay, benefits, and occupational training. In return, the enlisted member agrees to serve for a certain period of time, which is called service obligation.

The standard obligation is eight (8) years, which is divided between active and reserve duty. Depending on the enlistment program, members spend two (2) to six (6) years on active duty with the balance of the enlistment period spent in reserves. (Military Careers, US Department of Defense, 1996).

In order to enlist you will need your:

  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • High School Diploma
  • Registration Card

You will be given:

  • An interview with a recruiter
  • A rigid physical exam
  • A group of tests to measure your aptitude for entrance into various occupational training programs

Enlistment Periods are:

  • Air Force: 4 or 6 years
  • Army: 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 years
  • Coast Guard: 4 or 6 years
  • Marine Corps: 3, 4, or 5 years
  • Navy: 3, 4, 5, or 6 years




What kind of training is available in the military?

The United States Armed Forces is the nation's single largest employer, offering over 2,000 enlisted job opportunities in 91 occupation areas and 61officer occupation areas for both men and women. The military's primary focus is national defense; however, career options are not limited to combat.

Career opportunities include media and public affairs, health care, engineering, construction, electronics, mechanics, and combat specialties. The military can provide excellent opportunities to find areas in which you are interested for employment, earn money to pay for college, to learn a technical occupation which is in demand in the private employment sector, and to serve your country.

Officer training is provided through federal service academies which offer a 4-year college program leading to a bachelor’s degree in science, through the Reserves Officers Training Corps (ROTC), Officer Candidate School (OCS), and other programs.In order to be competitive for these programs, an individual needs to be working toward or already have acquired a four year college degree.

What are the opportunities to complete education?

All branches of the military provide a broad variety of educational opportunities while in the service.Although these vary from one branch to another, they include:

  • Opportunity to complete high school diploma
  • Opportunity to get a college education through classes scheduled on the base with some part of the tuition paid by the military
  • Opportunity for college degree through non-traditional means, such as work experience and individual study
  • Opportunity to complete a master’s degree or a doctor’s degree

Besides these programs which are available while you are in the service, the G.I. Bill becomes effective to pay for schooling after you leave the service.

What is the ROTC Program?

ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) is a commissioning program that trains students in about 950 Army, 550 Air Force, and 60 Navy/Marine Corps units at participating colleges and universities.Trainees take 2 to 5 hours of military instruction a week in addition to regular college courses.After graduation, they serve as officers on active duty for a stipulated period of time.ROTC offers tuition and other benefits.ROTC scholarships are available on a competitive basis which pay for tuition and have allowances for subsistence, textbooks, supplies, laboratory and other incidental fees.

What does military life consist of?

  • Military life is much more regimented than civilian life and very disciplined.
  • Dress and grooming requirements are stringent, and rigid formalities govern many aspects of daily life.
  • Officers and enlisted personnel do not socialize together, and superior commissioned officers are saluted and addressed as “sir” and “ma’am.”Commands of superiors must be obeyed immediately and without question.
  • Most military personnel usually work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.Some assignments require night and weekend work, or require people to be on call at all hours.All may require travel.Many require long periods at sea.Others are hazardous, even in noncombat situations.
  • During times of conflict, many are in combat and may find themselves in life and death situations.

What are the requirements for entry into the military?

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or registered alien
  • Must be physically and morally fit and not have a felony record
  • Must possess a birth certificate
  • Aptitude,(tested by the ASVAB) varying with program and branch.
  • High school graduation for men and women in certain programs.However, because educational requirements continue to rise as military jobs become more technical and complex, high school graduates with some college background will be sought to fill the ranks of enlisted personnel.
Branch of service Age
Air Force 17-28
Army 17-35
Coast Guard 17-27
Marine Corps  17-29
Navy 17-34

What are the branches of the military and their duties?

Air Force

  1. Defends the U.S. and its allies during times of international conflict.
  2. Joins with other branches of the military in combined operations.
  3. Provides air transportation for other branches.
  4. Furnishes aerial photography.
  5. Develops new space projects.


  1. Protects the security of the U.S. and its vital resources.
  2. Defends American interests and the interests of our allies through land based operations anywhere in the world.
  3. Helps in disasters such as floods and wild fires.

Coast Guard

  1. Enforces federal maritime laws.
  2. Saves lives and property in and around U.S. waters.
  3. Enforces customs and fishing laws.
  4. Conducts international ice patrol.
  5. Maintains lighthouses and other navigational aids.
  6. Protects marine wildlife and fights pollution on lakes and along coastlines.
  7. Monitors traffic in ports and harbors and prevent smuggling.
  8. Regulates recreational boating.


A special division of the Navy trained to protect Naval Bases, guard U.S. embassies and provide an ever-ready quick strike force to protect U.S. interests anywhere in the world.


  1. Protects the U.S. and its allies during times of international conflict.
  2. Maintains the freedom of the seas.
  3. Defends the right of the U.S. and its allies to travel and trade freely on the ocean.

What is the ASVAB?

All new recruits take the ASVAB, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. The results of the ASVAB are used to determine if a recruit qualifies for entry into a service, and if the recruit has the specific aptitude level for specific job training programs.

The ASVAB is actually a multi-aptitude test battery known as the Career Exploration Program. It is available at over 14,000 schools nationwide and is maintained by the Department of Defense. The ASVAB comprises ten individual tests: Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Mathematics Knowledge, Arithmetic Reasoning, General Science, Auto and Shop Information, Mechanical Comprehension, Electronics Information, Numerical Operations, and Coding Speed. Not only do you receive scores on each of these individual tests, you also receive composite scores. Composite scores combine individual tests to yield Verbal, Math, and Academic Ability scores. Each ASVAB test area is timed, and the whole test takes about three hours.

There are a number of enlistment programs, which may include cash bonuses, guaranteed choice of job training and assignments, or college education payment programs. All special enlistment programs have certain qualification requirements, such as education or aptitude, and/or minimum enlistment periods.

Helpful web sites to help prepare for and understand the ASVAB: