I am seeking advice from someone who has experience in the military, preferably as an officer. Currently I am attempting to become an officer in the military. I am married and have children, so this is an uphill battle, although I have the support of my family. It will be difficult but we are preparing ourselves for the rigors of military life.
My questions are related to my choice of branch and the quality of family life and professional development that comes with it. Currently, based on my interests and the availability of job openings, I have narrowed my selection down to the MarineCorps and the Army. I am looking into the following job selections:
Both the Marine Corps and the Army offer these career fields to me. I want to know which of these two branches will offer the greatest opportunity to excel and gain vital leadership skills. I want to work alongside professional and highly motivated individuals and I want my family to be affiliated with a branch that will help take care of them should something bad happen to me.
I am seeking advice from people who have “been there.” I am lacking the direct experience that would help me pin down a final course of action that will benefit my self-developmentand my family-development. Someone who has served in both branches should have particularly good insights.
Between the MarineCorps and Army, who
I am not looking for someone to hold my hand here, but I am looking for the voice of experience to help me make the most informed decision for myself and my family. Thank you to all who can offer assistance.
Another consideration: In the Army, we have opportunities to attend schools that the Marines drool over. Some of these are: Sapper, Ranger, Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, Dive, and many other courses that Marines rarely get the opportunity to attend.
As far as the branches you are interested in:
If you have any questions....feel free to ask.
If you don't mind that I'm a prior service officer from a different branch, I'll chime in.
I think you'll find that the overall responsibility of an officer will be similar between all the services, it's the mission that will be different.
I assume that you are talking about OCS.
In the Army OCS you will be on an OML (Order of Merit List) The higher you are on the list the better chance you have at getting the branch you want, but in the end it comes down to the needs of the Army in the selection process.
I noticed you put Aviation first on your list. If this is your first choice you might consider Warrant Officer Flight Training for the Army. You can apply as a civilian for the program. In the Army Warrants will fly further into their career as apposed to commissioned officers who at a point will be in more staff positions.
Infantry is another branch that is harder to get. Intel would be next, then engineers, Signal would be much easier to get.
You will get great leadership skills from either branch. As far as taking care of your family,all the branches are equal in this regard in my opinion.
Each service has great support for families.
As far as promotion you touched on the key words....merit and skill, you'll need that in either service. If I had to choose I would say the Army may have the edge.
Deployments depend on what is going on in the world, if you are a Marine Aviator you could find yourself at sea on a carrier. If your an Army aviator and there is no deployment in your future you will not be gone as much. Time away will depend on your branch within the service and the mission they have at the time. There is no way to predetermine how long you might be away.
Both services have some of the hardest working individuals.
I would probably say the Army has the edge when it comes to continuing education, though I came to learn that if you ask for it, they tend to do what they can to accomidate you no matter which service.
I know a lot of the answers were a bit vague but realize that first and foremost your looking to be an officer in the US Military, you just need to decide which mission you want to pursue.
You should laminate that last post.
That was the short version! I could have started making some crazy lists and flowcharts to really show how great our careers can be!
Don't forget Power Points....Your going to love those at BOLC, though I'm sure you've had your share.
Thank you for your thorough and quick reply. I found this very informative and motivating. To be honest, in working with Army recruiters I have been less than impressed and poorly informed. I have been lied to by quite a few recruiters.
I am glad that you are in an Engineering MOS because I think that might offer me my greatest opportunity. I have a few questions related to that mos.
1. I currently work for a civil engineer as a project manager. I have been learning autoCAD and some basic survey techniques. Will there be opportunities as an officer to learn autoCAD and get a drafters or surveyors certificate? Based on your post I assume there are also opportunities for me to persue an engineering degree?
2. What engineering careers are available for a 2nd LT? If selected I am leaning towards combat engineer as I would like to attend Ranger and or Sapper school as well as dive school (if that is also an option). What are the "in demand" sectors?
3. What's a day in the life of an Army officer in this field? Deployments, duty stations, etc?
4. Special Forces has been a goal of mine since I was a youth. Are engineering officers eligible to attend SFAS when a 1st LT ? I enjoy opportunity and would like the option to remain open. I understand most people go infantry before making this a career, however I think an engineering foundation would offer me more flexibility and a unique edge when it comes to skills and leadership. Combat engineers, after all, serve alongside infantry but also learn some engineering skills to boot.
Once again your help is appreciated. Thanks.
Thank you for your reply. I know a bit about the Marine officer pipeline, but not so much the Army's. What happens at BOLC? What skills are taught and who does the training? I am assuming there is plenty of mentoring and solid leadership training occuring, but I am curious about the specifics from someone who has been there. Thanks.
Maybe my googling needs help, but I was able to find a website dedicated to prospective Marine officers that has videos, interviews and extensive job descriptions. It is pretty informative. I haven't found one for the Army. Does anyone know of a site like this for prospective Army officers?
Yes I am referring to OCS when speaking of becoming an officer.
Frankly.....training and education should NOT be a concern if you are coming Army...nor should Special Operations. These are all very distinctly possible if you want them. There are more than ample opportunities. I have zero worries. It's not something that very few get. It is something very openly promoted amongst Officers. I have permission from my Chain of Command to find as many courses as I can and network to find better opportunities to attend these courses(outside of waiting on the TEC to approve the request). I also am having no issue furthering my education. I have spoken with a recruiter from a Spec Ops unit THIS WEEK and have worked a plan to apply next year once I have met a specific requirement. None of this took me much effort. I am not begging for opportunities. I am asking what is possible and being given multiple options.
www.sorbrecruiting.com That has a lot of the Special Operations opportunities on it....BUT NO WHERE NEAR ALL
On YouTube search the following terms:
Unfortunately, the Army does not have a great comprehensive website like the USMC that is targetted at Officer Recruitment. There are portions of the GoArmy.com website that do show the basics. Frankly, I think you can get a more candid view by reviewing YouTube. Most classes will post their videos on YouTube so that they can brag.
Once again thanks for the good information. I like the variability and opportunity you are discussing. I agree with you on engineering making a quality SF candidate. That was my gut reaction to the question as engineering often has you thinking on your feet to solve complex problems. Add a little combat training into that and you have a deadly combination. Just wasn't sure how often that happened, but from what you are saying anything is possible if you want it and ask for it...pending abilities and needs of the Army of course.
Since it sounds like you went through this training not terribly long ago, I would like to know what I should be doing at this stage of entering a military career. I have a near completed Army ap and will be submitting my final package for an October board. I want to be as competative as possible. Are there some things I should study and learn now in order to make my transition more effective? What factors are involved in reaching the top of your respective class?
p.s. can you send pm's in this forum?
Also curious about test scores. What is the average ASVAB score for an engineering officer? What other factors are used to determine an officers MOS?
Here is the one thing that seems to work for getting courses: Don't ask "Can I".....ask "What can I do to XXX" and if they say it's not possible, ask " what if I..." Often the knee-**** reaction is to say "no" but there are ways. Often you have to do a favor for them or you have to help them sell the idea to higher commands. My Commander likes to say...you may get stuck going to Unit Movement Officer or something that is boring to negotiate for something fun. For our high-speed courses.....we basically show them that we deserve it more than other units by having high PT scores, and we do train-ups to show that we are ready and more likely to succeed when compared to Soldiers from other units. They are likely to send a Soldier that is a lower risk for failure to the tough courses. We show that we are the best selection because we have trained harder than the actual course standards. The Army hates to waste money and so far this approach is working well. In BOLC, you will get a briefing on what schools slots are possible and what it will take to go. Sometimes, you can work something out through your branch to attend some training. Trust me....there are always options. One caveat...don't expect to go to underwater basket-weaving if your unit can not substantiate the need to send you....you may get lucky.....but if it is not related to your unit's mission or can not be sold as professional development; it is hard to get them to approve it. However, it never hurts to ask...you may get lucky. I may be able to head to underwater basket weaving despite the fact that my unit has no divers. It's going to take a bit of luck on my side...but I actually know whose door to knock on. Sometimes, you just get lucky.
For your packet, I recommend:
For OCS success(for getting as high on the OML as possible)....note: I did not go to OCS....I was an in-service Direct Commissionee:
Thanks for the advice. Didn't know you could DC if you not were not law, medical or chaplain.
A little more on my situation: I am 26 and have three kids at home. I finished college in 08' with a 3.4 gpa. I will probably be on the older end of the spectrum and that's fine with me. My package is nearly complete. I haven't PT'd yet, but I am aiming above 270. The pushups are there, the situps and run are coming along and I expect to meet my goals by an October 18th deadline. My interview attire is always conservative and I have real world managerial and leadership experience, not just college credits and a fancy piece of paper. Letters of rec come from two college professors, one USMC Lt. Col and a retired Police Captain. Working on one from my current employer, a Civil Engineer. I also have to take a formal ASVAB before my package is final. Goal one is getting there, goal two will be to be best in the class, which will be aided by your OCS advice.
I have a USMC packet in the works too, but I put it on hold due to problems in the Department of the Navy budget and the infrequency of boards. USMC was my first choice, but my wife was concerned about the quality of life for our family; she thinks USMC is all yelling all the time. The Army is accepting OCS candidates at a more frequent pace. I was concerned about the espirit de corps of the Army and its options and opportunities, however your posts have clarified that for me. I love the USMC and I have had many relatives and friends serve in the Marines, but if the Army wants me first I will serve proudly and faithfully. It sounds like it offers a great career opportunity for the determined.
I noticed somewhere that you have a similar background to me; married with two kids. May I ask how the transition was for you and your family? Not sure how old you are, but I am 26 and my kids are just below school age. I am trying to mentally prepare my family for the future and detail a financial path while a Jr. Officer.
The irony is that the military will be a better and more liberating life for my family. The civilian sector has been cut throat, and I normally work 50+ hours a week, come home tired, frustrated and unhappy and have no benefits to show for it. My wife knows it and my kids can sense it. I would be much happier serving in the military, where I can get excited over what I am doing, make my family proud, and finally satiate the military itch I have carried with me since I was at least 10 or 11. I understand that the Army is what you make of it. Your posts indicate that to me. Failure is not an option to me and I am excited about the options for the future. Thanks for helping clarify the opportunities in the Army with your posts.