5 Myth Busters About Life in the U.S. Military

Sure, you’ve seen military life depicted in movies and TV shows. But misconceptions abound about service members’ daily lives. Here’s your chance to bust those myths and learn the real deal.

1. You can’t contact family and friends.

According to a survey, 50 percent of young people thought that joining the military meant it would be harder to stay in touch. But it’s 2019, everyone.

Smartphone capabilities and other tech advances have made communication easier than ever. Skype, FaceTime or any of the other many video-chatting services have given deployed service members around the world the ability to be in touch with their families and friends at any time of day in some of the most remote areas of the world.

Open Arms. An airman greets a loved one at Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown, upon returning from a deployment supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Emotional Embrace. A sailor embraces a loved one after graduating from Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes.

2. People in the military can’t have a family.

There is a misconception that the military can be a lonely life that involves lots of location changes and deployments. While there is a lot of moving in the military, it’s very family oriented. In fact, 52 percent of the enlisted force is married, while 70 percent of the officer corps is. That’s higher than the U.S. average of about 48 percent, according to Census Bureau statistics.

Seaman Marcus White, from San Diego, stands watch as aft lookout aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville during a replenishment-at-sea with the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
Staff Sgt. Chewanda Roberts, a drill instructor with Platoon 4032, Oscar Company, 4th Recruit Training Battalion, instructs on proper drill movements during their evening routine.

3. You get penalized if you get pregnant.

DOD offers some of the best maternity leave available in the United States. The Defense Department has supported military families by expanding maternity leave to 12 continuous weeks for all new moms serving in uniform, and is working to expand paternity leave for dads, too.

Sailors assigned to the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard wait to parade the colors at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. during a Concert on the Avenue.
Members of the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team jumps as part of their performance during the Skyfest 2019 Open House and Airshow at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

4. You lower your chances to get money for college.

Not true. Many service members are also able to get their degree while on active-duty. Then there’s the ROTC (the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, if you’re unfamiliar with it), which trains college students for future service. About 120,000 people have benefited from ROTC scholarships in the past decade.

Also, the GI Bill has helped more than 2.3 million veterans pay for college. And did you know that there are actually several options for educational benefits under the GI Bill? There’s the Montgomery GI Bill for active-duty and select reserve service members, as well as benefit programs for disabled veterans. There’s also the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which offers more than just help with tuition and fees. It also offers a living allowance, money for textbooks and even the option to transfer education benefits that service members don’t use to their spouse or children.

U.S. Marine Corps Recruits conduct their initial swim qualification at the combat training pool on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island.
Sgt. 1st Class Brant Ireland of Team Special Operations Command catches a pass during the wheelchair rugby bronze medal match of the 2019 DoD Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida.

5. Getting back to the ‘real world’ is a challenge.

Like anything else, when you leave one way of life for another, it can be a transition. Moving cross-country. Leaving home for college. Those all represent a big change, but people adjust, and it’s no different for veterans.

Sure, there’s definitely a transition period when you leave the military, but there are several programs that help service members with transition and separation, including the Hiring our Heroes program.

And if you’re thinking that your job skills won’t transfer, that’s a myth, too. People forget that the military has all sorts of opportunities – from cooking to doing scientific research to public affairs – and a lot of those skills are extremely transferable. Not only that, but in the military, you get a crash-course in things like dependability and reliability, teamwork and team-building, leadership, handling stress, decision-making and critical thinking, just to name a few. All of those qualities are highly valuable to employers in the civilian sector. So, just like any civilian who might transfer from one job to another, people with military backgrounds can do that, too.

Service members and World War II veterans enjoy the fly-over performances by various military aircraft at the 75th D-Day Anniversary ceremony at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, June 6, 2019.
Sentinels from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) participate in the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Disclaimer: The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute DOD endorsement.

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