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Men and women consider joining the military for various reasons. For some, it's the honor of serving their country; some view the military as a way to earn money to pay for a college education. Others seek the valuable training and work experience to help them establish careers in the civilian workforce. Still others hope to make lifelong careers with the military branch of their choice. The first step for many of these career paths is a visit with a military recruiter.
Military recruiters provide information to civilians interested in a possible military career. Each branch of the military—the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy—has its own recruiters working on their behalf. The Army also employs civilian recruiters, as mandated by the Defense Appropriations Act of 2001. While the companies currently contracted to manage recruiting personnel are considered civilian, many of those hired to conduct recruitment duties have had previous distinguished service in the Army.
Some military recruiters are based at recruitment offices located throughout the United States. They meet with candidates by appointment or on a walk-in basis and provide information and answer any questions they may have. Many recruiters also travel to area high schools and college campuses to make presentations to interested students. Information regarding military careers is also presented at job fairs, career day programs, and community groups. Recruiters may hand out pamphlets, give testimonials, or present a slideshow regarding the many opportunities available in the military. They give an honest account of what to expect during a tour of duty, both positive and negative, as well as the financial and career benefits of military service.
Military recruiters conduct a preliminary interview with an interested candidate. During this time the recruiter can assess whether the candidate is qualified to join. There are standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense, along with each military branch, which determines qualification. Such factors include age (you must be of age to serve), citizenship or immigration status, level of education, criminal or drug abuse history, physical and mental health, and level of education. Many candidates, while interested in a military career, may be unsure of what branch in which to serve. They often visit with recruiters from every branch before deciding with whom to enlist.
Once the candidate decides on a branch of the military, the recruiter presents the particulars of service. Issues such as length of service, basic training, leave time, housing options, medical benefits, education benefits, and financial matters are discussed in depth. Recruiters often meet with candidates more than once to answer questions, explain details at length, or assuage any concerns. They may be asked to meet with a candidate's parents, guardians, or family members to answer their queries or concerns.
Military recruiters will ask candidates to take the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery test. This computerized test covers topics such as word knowledge and comprehension, and mathematical knowledge and reasoning. Scores from this test may help determine in what capacity the candidate can best serve the military.
The enlistment process continues with the recruiter drawing up forms for the candidate which specifies his or her commitment to join the military. The recruiter often helps the candidate gather needed paperwork and documents to complete the application. While the recruiter can schedule and even provide transportation to a military entrance processing station, they cannot accompany the candidate through this part of the process.
Recruiters can advise candidates regarding job opportunities or specifics but they cannot guarantee a particular career path. However, recruiters working for the Army, including the Army Reserves and the Army National Guard, have access to the Future Soldier Remote Reservation System, which may give prequalified candidates the option of requesting a particular job—only if that position is available at the time of their processing. The remaining branches use job counselors to help candidates match their qualifications with available positions.
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