Why Do People Join the Military? A Journalist's Story

Why Do People Join the Military? A Journalist’s Story

•  3 minute read

Saddled with student loans and unable to find a steady job, one man turns to the military for employment.

While I was growing up, the military was always an attractive option. My father served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, and my grandfather had served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. I wanted to carry on the tradition — or at least, I considered it.

But around the same time that I was considering army life, I also discovered that I had a passion for political journalism. Between the two options that kept pulling me in different directions, I decided to explore the journalism angle first.

 

Exploring My Passion for Journalism

After I graduated in May 2014 with a B.A. in political science, I started researching and applying to every entry-level journalism position that I was eligible for. Now, I wasn’t trying to become a television anchor or anything. I just wanted to get my foot in the door and see where it led me.

I applied to these jobs on a weekly basis, but the response was far from encouraging. Most didn’t even respond to me.

The ones that did get back to me would do a quick phone interview, and then I’d either never hear from them again or receive a rejection letter.

Even after I decided to broaden my job search to literally any entry-level job that I was qualified for, the results were the same. I was frequently met with the question, “Do you have a job yet?” Some people even accused me of being lazy.

I was already not in the best of emotional states, and the rejection was hard to stomach. I knew it wasn’t that I was unqualified for the jobs. At that time, I had on my bio: good grades, four years in online journalism, radio gigs, and an article in an academic journal at age 22. Yet I still couldn’t find a job.

I was upset and angry. And the worst part was, there really wasn’t anything I could do about it.

It was taking a toll on my finances, as well. While I was doing small freelance gigs ($100 a month for Occupy.com), I couldn’t make even the tiniest dent in my $30,000-plus student loan debt.

And even when I did have work, I had to spend half my paycheck on shared expenses with my family. This left me with little to make even the interest payments on my student loans.

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Why People Join the Military: My Plan B

It was in this mood that I began to think back to an option that I had rejected while in high school: joining the military. I began looking into it seriously. I was told that I could go into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant an annual salary of slightly more than $30,000.

After the contracted six years of active duty, I’d be eligible for a student loan repayment program that would slice a third off my student debt. I quickly called up a recruiter and began the process.

That was back in October 2015. I have now gone through the Army Officer Board interview to determine if I qualified to attend Officer Candidate School. Though I was nervous, I did well and went to school in Fort Benning, Georgia. I’m now heading to Fort Jackson, South Carolina. After my army life, I’ll look for a career in the health sector —certainly not for a war correspondent’s job.

CentSai originally published this article on April 23, 2016. You can also watch a video of Devon’s story here.