9 Reasons Why You Should Join the Military After College – #8 Can Change Your Life

I graduated school, and I took a job working in Europe making six-figures a year. I was the envy of my friends and the pride of my family. I should have been on top of the world, but I wasn’t. I was lost, and without purpose. So I quit that life, and joined the military.

You should join the military after the college because it will give you confidence and experience to excel at life. There are also many tangible and intangible benefits to being a veteran. Most of all, you will be proud that you gave back and served your country.

You can join the military after college as an officer or enlisted. I highly suggest joining as an officer. The quality of life will be higher, they pay is better and I believe the leadership experiences gained will prove more valuable later in life.

There is really only one way you can join the military as an officer after college. That is through Officer Training School or Officer Candidate School (depending on the branch of service you join). These programs are about three months long. Once you are finished, you are commissioned as an officer.

Here is more information on each branches Officer School:

Air Force: Air Force OTS
Army: Army OCS
Navy: Navy OCS
Marines: Marines OCS
Coast Guard: Coast Guard OCS

Below are nine reasons why you should join the military after college:

1. Quality of Your Work Life

I’m going to speak out of both sides of my mouth here. As a junior officer you will work hard. You will be tasked with leading men who have more experience than you do. All eyes will be on you, and you can’t dog it for a second or the men and women under your command will notice and lose respect for you.

However, everyone will know you are a junior officer and don’t know much because you lack experience. As such, everyone will be leery of giving you responsibility. You also will technically be the boss in most situations. That means that no one is going to be eager to tell you what to do.

I was active duty in the mid-2000s. The quality of work life was very feast-or-famine. While deployed, we worked our tails off. We worked 16 hour days, but it didn’t really feel like it because there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go. When we were stateside, the schedule wasn’t demanding at all. No one wanted to give the junior officers much responsibility because they knew we would be deploying soon and they would have to finish our projects. This meant I was on the golf course by 3 most days.

The quality of the work day was something I really enjoyed in the military. No day was the same, and I was always active and learning new things. Better yet, I had a certain control over my day which I found empowering.

2. Friendships

The bonds of friendship are unique and strong between those who serve together. This is especially true for officers. There are not many officers in a unit. Everyone is from somewhere else, and thus has no built-in network of friends. That means that the officers inevitably become friends.

Because of the unique demands of military life, the officers and their spouses become especially close. Spouses are often left behind when their officer spouse is away on a deployment or temporary duty. The other families look after the spouse left behind as everyone understands the challenges of military life.

The result is cherished friendships last long after you leave the military.

In my situation, I became especially close to the fellow junior officers I served with. I have been out of the military for 12 years now, but we still get together annually. The bonds of our friendship is that strong.

3. Life Experience

You will get the opportunity to see the world while in the military. In my five years I visited unique countries like Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Germany, Italy, Spain and Alabama.

While traveling the world is fantastic, the experiences you have are more important. I attended a party with sheiks in Kuwait. I swam in the Persian Gulf. I experienced more mortar attacks than I care to remember in Iraq. I smuggled four hogs into Iraq to have a pig picking for my men. I also built a hospital there. I shot machine guns. I sat in a job trailer with Shawn Bradley – all 7’6” of him. I played golf in Qatar and Lake Tahoe. I could go on and on.

I even had the memorable assignment of mentoring the Dancing Cadet on summer (YouTube).

I have a life’s worth of memories and stories from just my short five years in the military that I will always treasure.

4. Gain Confidence

It is hard to explain, but your confidence will grow as an officer. By the very nature of the role you will be put in a leadership position. More often than not, the culture created by the military designates you as the man in charge.

Even those who aren’t natural leaders quickly adapt to this role and the responsibilities of it.

There is also something magical about wearing the uniform. You will stand a little taller, and be a little prouder. You will stand for something greater than yourself, and that will give your ego a huge boost.

5. Job Security

It’s a crazy world out there. In the past 20 years we have had the Dot-Com Bubble, the Great Recession and the Coronavirus. This has led to massive swings in the unemployment numbers.

Of course, if you are in the military you have the best level of job security out there. That isn’t to say you aren’t without risk, as the military seems to grow and shrink depending on the way the government is leaning politically. But you can sleep comfortably knowing that you will have a paycheck coming in every month with a high level of probability. This level of stability is comforting for a lot of people.

6. Educational Benefits

The military has strong educational benefits. There are student loan repayment programs, but most officers aren’t eligible for those programs. However, there are programs that will assist a military member with getting their graduate degree.

First, there is a program where the government will give tuition assistance to active duty members. This will incur an additional service commitment though.

The second, and maybe the best program ever, is the Post 9-11 GI Bill. The high level details are they will pay for school (up to the most expensive in-state, public school), pay for books and even pay you a stipend for housing. This is simply a fantastic deal.

I used my GI Bill to pay for my MBA program, and still have money left over. This was one of the ways I separated myself from my civilian peers when I left the military.

To learn more about the program – go here: Post 9-11 GI Bill

7. Getting Thanked for Your Service

I think about Vietnam Vets and it makes me sad that they did not come home to the same fanfare that recent vets enjoy. Nearly every time someone finds out that I was in the military they thank me for my service.

As a vet I am recognized at work often. I’ve been asked to stand to be recognized at several corporate events. I’m a season ticket holder at NC State football games. We have a military appreciation day where all vets stand for their respective branch of service. Even the local grocery store has designated parking spots specifically for veterans.

While this is not the reason you join the military, the gratitude you will receive for years after your service is fulfilling and rewarding.

8. Leadership Experience

The United States Military is the best leadership school in the world. You will learn leadership through instruction, through observation and through doing. Being given the opportunity to lead is what will separate you from your civilian peers when you leave the military and enter the corporate work force.

When I was in the military, I deployed twice. During my deployment to Iraq I led a team of 150+ men and women into combat. While there, I was responsible for $25M of new construction projects. During my deployment to Kuwait, I was the base engineer. I led a team of 15 military and 200+ contracted civilians to support the base. I was responsible for all new construction, facility maintenance and life support contracts. I succeeded and was recognized for my efforts in both situations.

When I left the military, I was still a young man. I was ambitious and wanted to climb the corporate ladder as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, I had these types of experiences on my resume. This allowed me to jump a few rungs on the corporate ladder because the military had given me experiences that civilians my age had not yet had. Further, when I was given those positions as a civilian I thrived because those responsibilities still paled in comparison to the responsibilities of a deployed officer.

If you want to give your career a jumpstart, the military is the way to go. The skill of leading people is always valued and in demand. The sooner you learn that skill the faster promotions will come as a member of corporate America.

9. Giving Back to Your Country

The greatest sign of character is those who give selflessly to others. As stated above, there are great benefits to joining the military. Make no mistake though, you are giving away control of your life to the government to the betterment of all Americans. This is an extremely selfless act.

It is also extremely rewarding. When you give you receive, and the pride you will have knowing that you gave back to your country is almost overwhelming. You will think about it every time you see the flag. You will think about it every time you hear the national anthem.

You will know that you are a defender of freedom. You are the protector of those who can’t protect themselves. Those are some of the noblest calls in life.


My military service meant a lot to me. I was lost as a young man, and it gave me a sense of direction and a purpose. It also served as the foundation and springboard to all the success I would have later in life.

I cannot recommend highly enough that young men and women join the military. Serving your country will be the best investment you can possibly make in yourself, and will repay you many times over through the years.

1 Comment
  1. Chuck says

    Hi Pat,
    I ordered your book “Good Teams Win Great teams Cover” I can’t wait to read it. It sounds exactly like me, missing out on the opportunities that were right there for the pickings.

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