Thinking about joining the military? Well, you probably have hundreds of questions. It never fails: you have all these questions, but once you walk into the recruiter's office you can't seem to remember any of them. There are several questions you need to make sure you ask your recruiter, and several things you need your recruiter should know. There are so many benefits to joining and so much information about the military, it is impossible for your recruiter to cover everything, this is why it is important to talk with them. Here are five important questions and items you need to tell your recruiter.
#1 When do I take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)?
This is an important question because what you do in the military is dependent on this test. Not everyone is ready to take the ASVAB right away. Being prepared and scoring as high as possible will give you the most options when you start your military career. There are several ways to prepare for the ASVAB. You can buy a study guide or visit Military.com's online ASVAB Preparation and Practice Tests. Most recruiters will give you a practice test to predict your actual score on the ASVAB, and a low score on the practice test might mean you need to do some prep work.
#2 How soon will I leave for basic training?
Joining the military and leaving for basic training are two completely different things. When you join the military, you are qualifying first by testing and second by taking a physical. After qualifying in both areas, you will pick your job and swear-in. You're not leaving for basic training at this time. It is important that your recruiter and the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) liaisons know when you are available to leave for basic training. It is always better to get your career started as soon as possible, but not everyone can do this. For Instance, if you are currently attending college you probably wont be available until the end of the semester. If you are a high school senior you need to make sure you know when your graduation date is and when you will be available to leave. Whatever the reason make sure you discuss it with your recruiter.
#3 When will I get my job assigned?
This is a very important question. Each branch of the service has its own method of assigning jobs. For example, the Navy will give you a job while you are at MEPS. But, while the Air Force can give you a job at MEPS, they usually have you come up with a list of preferred vocations and put you on a qualified and waiting list. Just make sure you understand what job you have been assigned to and when that group is leaving for basic training.
#4 What documents do I need to start the recruiting process?
In a perfect world everybody would know where their important documents are at all times. In reality, most people know where their driver's license is and probably their social security card, but many people are not able to quickly find their birth certificate, high school diploma, etc.
Your recruiter will give you a list of the documents needed to process for the military, the sooner you start gathering the documents the sooner you can join the military. The list may include a government issued ID such as a drivers license, social security card, high school diploma, birth certificate, college transcripts, marriage license, medical documents, court documents, adoption documents etc. These are just some examples of the documents you may be asked to bring. If you are unable to locate the documents, you may need extra time to order the necessary replacement documents. An early start will make the process of joining much smoother.
#5 Do you need my complete medical and legal history?
Recruiters need to know your complete medical history and information about all legal infractions including traffic tickets, misdemeanors, felonies, etc. Recruiters are trying to help you, not disqualify you. The Recruiting Commander may be able to grant a waiver or overturn many legal issues that are initially disqualifying. If your recruiter does not have this information, there is nothing he or she can do to help you with the process.
Disclosing your medical history and getting supporting documentation for medical issues will give you the best possible chance of qualifying for the military. Law violations work pretty much the same way, disclosing them upfront will give the recruiter the best opportunity to run a waiver if applicable. Being upfront with your recruiter about medical and legal issues will keep you from wasting yours and the recruiter's time.
Remember, there are many questions you need to ask you recruiter and many things you will need to tell them. Write down your questions! I had a recruit come into my office with a list of about 75 questions all written out, we spent about an hour going over her list, and she felt much better about the process because she was informed. This is a job interview process, so make sure you are involved and informed!