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true facts should I join the Army

I finally got the recruiter on the phone today–he’s been hard to get in touch with, having recently had a baby–and learned the following things:

It is not likely that it will be determined whether I’m accepted into the helicopter program while I’m still in Japan. Even if I complete all the preliminary testing here, I then need to wait until they convene a review board (which happens once per month) to interview me, and then wait for my entire packet to visit some central decision-making authority before determining whether or not I’m accepted.

Assuming I do make it into the helicopter program:

I would need to serve a minimum of 6 years active duty.

The army would handle getting me into local universities and pay for tuition up to a set amount; they let you aim for either a bachelor’s or a master’s. I think I’d head for a second bachelor’s.

I would not be eligible for cross-training; my duties would be to fly helicopters. After a few years, I could apply to switch to fixed-wing aircraft. On the other hand, I would spend the majority of my duty time flying helicopters.

Knowing Japanese does not make me eligible for extra pay, and the Army wouldn’t train me in Japanese during on-duty hours. However, I could take Japanese courses as part of the normal off-duty-time university course load.

I would live in dormatories for the duration of the training. Once I was posted to a duty station, I would have the option of living in a dormatory (free), or living off-base with stipends to pay for housing and food.

The army would NOT pay back my student loans; that’s a bonus they offer to people joining the enlisted ranks directly.

I would accumulate leave at the normal rate (2.5 days per month) during training, but I would not be able to take leave during training. This means it is likely that I would have to miss my sister’s graduation.

I would make more money than I do now.

This all looks reasonable to me. I still want to see my sister graduate, but it’s not confirmed that I’ll have to miss it–it’s only a likely chance at this point.

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