Military Law

Enlistment Process and Sign-up Bonuses

The military offers hundreds of job types. A brief stint in the military can be a starting point for you civilian career. If you're looking for a military career, the job paths are almost unlimited. Know what to expect when you enlist, and about the military's valuable sign-up bonuses.

Choose the Right Branch for You

The military consists of several branches, including the Army, National Guard, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and the Reserves. Before enlisting, you should talk with a recruiter and try to find out which branch is right for you. You can join as active duty (full-time) or as a reserve (part-time). Usually, those in the reserves have civilian jobs, but they can be called to duty anytime. If you have the right qualifications, officer training may be an option.

How to Enlist

To be eligible to enlist, you must be a U.S. resident or resident alien, be at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma. There are very few exceptions. Passing a physical medical exam is required. In addition, all applicants take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Test (ASVAB). The minimum score for enlistment varies by military branch.

There are two basic ways of enlisting. One is the standard enlistment, which is when you sign up and get started right away. The other option is delayed entry. Here, you sign up, but delay starting for a up to one year in most cases. Individual services may also offer other options, so check with your local recruiters.

To actually enlist, you go to the nearest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). MEPS staff members determine your physical qualifications and moral standards. If you haven't taken the ASVAB, you'll take it at the MEPS. Your physical medical exam is given at the MEPS. Be prepared to give a detailed medical history, including childhood. If needed, meals and overnight lodging are provided.

After passing the ASVAB and physical exam, a service liaison counselor tells you about job options and the enlistment agreement. You're making important decisions and need to be informed. Counselors can explain each program and answer your questions.

A final interview, fingerprinting for a FBI check and pre-enlistment briefing are completed before you take the oath of enlistment. If you're entering the Delayed Entry Program, or not enlisting at this time, your recruiter arranges your transportation home. Otherwise, you receive instructions on transportation to basic training.

Enlistment Bonus

If you enlist in the military you may be eligible for up to $40,000 in cash bonuses. Your bonus amount depends on the service branch, education level, civilian experience, specific job specialty and enlistment contract length. Bonus types include cash for buying a home, signing bonuses, education bonuses, and other incentives. Bonuses can be combined, up to $40,000.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • What if I change my mind after I enlist?
  • Will I still qualify for my bonus if I am injured during basic training?
  • How can I maximize the amount that the military will pay for education?
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