by Jacquelyn DiLorenzo
Taken from student blog, I Didn’t Sign Up for This
The small share of Americans that currently serve in today’s military coupled with the growing gap between the civilian and military populations have led to many individuals having numerous misconceptions about the military life. Most common are the ones pertaining to education and money, or the general working lifestyle. Many of the military spouses, children, and parents I have contacted over the course of this blogging experience have continuously thrown the same misconceptions my way, expressing the fury they feel when these military myths below are thrown at their faces.1. Education
Joining the military is sometimes seen as the easier road to travel on when one cannot find the means or motivation to continue to higher education. Firstly, an individual must acquire a high school diploma or GED in order to enter the Armed Forces. A 2013 study showed that 95% of officers at that time had received a bachelor’s degree before commissioning and at least 25% have acquired an advanced degree of sorts. Tests have also proven that enlistees often held higher scores on standardized tests and read at higher reading levels than their civilian counterparts prior to joining the military. Additionally, the military provides many options in helping to further a member’s education by providing a GI Bill – financial assistance to member’s and their families, as well as training and schooling included in their military career that will allow service members to acquire the skills necessary to carry in to their “real world” experiences following retirement from the service.

2. Money
It is still a belief that military families must make a fat paycheck if they have a lot of children with a stay-at-home mom and father who is always gone. This could not be further from the truth. Many times, the civilian spouse stays at home to raise the children because finding a job when constantly being uprooted can sometimes be really difficult to do. The military is not a life full of luxury. Pay is determined based off of the service member’s rank and is increased as they are promoted higher. Member’s do receive BAH – Basic Allowance for Housing – to assist in paying for their living quarters at each duty station, however, the BAH is determined by where in the world the member is living as well as how many dependents are living with him/her. Often, a member must dip into their paycheck to cover what their BAH did not, such as utilities and their personal bills. Even with these benefits, many military members do not earn near what their civilian counterparts make.
It is true that a member and his/her family makes more money when the service member is deployed. This is known as ‘combat pay’ and often is only a few hundred dollars extra each month. While this sounds like a perk, consider yourself. Would you risk your life for $600 a month?
Even further, many do not know that a service member with a rank of E-5 or lower only makes about $1,500 a month. Because of this, most qualify for government assistance, putting a financial strain on the family.

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