Whenever you hear that someone is in the military, your first instinct is to thank that person for his or her service. This is just one of the perks of being a member of the United States Military service. If you think that serving the nation will give you that sense of purpose, then you should definitely consider joining.
The good news is that you will not be shorthanded financially when joining the military. There are actually plenty of advantages when taking this career route, which we will learn more about in the following sections.
Why Should I Join the Military in the First Place?
Before counting down the financial benefits of joining the military, let us take a quick look at the reasons for joining it in the first place. Joining the military is a time-honored tradition of serving the nation and its people. If you haven’t felt that sense of patriotism before, joining the military will definitely make those feelings arise.
Starting from the training to being sent to different missions, being a member of the US Armed Forces will make you lead an exciting, adventure and probably action-filled life. During the time that the economy of the US was down, those who joined the military considered it as a last resort – and most turned out to be success stories after finding out that the military is where they actually belong.
The military also offers advanced technical training for members, there are plenty of leadership opportunities to be had, and you can travel the world once you get assigned to military installations in different parts of the globe. After leaving the service, you will get bountiful financial benefits, which is one of the reasons why most people join in the first place.
Despite the dangers associated with the job, there is a surprisingly high mortality rate in this line of work. Being a military member is no more dangerous than any other job which requires individuals to take certain risks. If you think that this line of work is suitable for you, then you should definitely consider enlisting for training in the military.
Financial Benefits of Joining the Military
There are many financial advantages to enjoy when joining the military, including the following:
1. Student loan forgiveness
According to The Simple Dollar, the average student owes $40,000 after graduation. One out of five students owe $50,000 or more in student loans, while a significant 5.6% owe more than $100,000. If you are applying for an entry-level job at a company and you’re still establishing yourself financially, it’s virtually impossible for you to pay off such huge loans. By joining the military, you can take advantage of the Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
Through it, you can get a huge chunk of your college education paid for. There are several sub-programs under this that you can qualify for, one example of which is the Army Student Loan Repayment program. Here, you can receive up to 33 1/3rd% or $1,500 – whichever is greater – towards the unpaid principal balance of your student loans. This applies for each year of your enlisted active duty. To determine your eligibility and what active duty service entails, you can get in touch with an Army recruiter.
What about the pay? For military personnel, their basic pay is set by the US Congress every year in the National Defense Authorization Act. The total pay is equal to the basic pay amount, plus allowances, plus special pay, if any. Basic pay is subject to income tax, while the allowances are tax-free. Allowances include housing, food, or clothing – whichever the military personnel is qualified for. For those who do not live in military housing, Basic Allowance for Housing is granted.
There’s also a Basic Allowance for Subsistence, which makes up a substantial portion of the income of a soldier. For special duty or skills, there’s the Special Pays portion which is also subject to income tax. For instance, those who are members of the bomb squad receive Hazardous Duty pay. Those who are in the war zone will receive a Hostile Fire Pay, an Imminent Danger Pay, and those who are stationed to remote locations receive a Hardship Duty Pay.
3. Additional benefits
Aside from the basic pay, there are special circumstances when military personnel are given additional benefits. For instance, if you were given a special assignment, you can be entitled to a special pay. Hardships, hazardous duty, hostile fire, warfare, diving duty – these will earn you additional benefits on top of your basic pay. Special pay for military personnel is added to the basic pay, although such pay programs may be suspended at any time by the current president.
4. Enlistment bonuses
Due to the hazardous nature of the job, most people will think twice before signing up for the military. This is the reason why they offer enlistment bonuses, to attract more applicants. A typical enlistment bonus for recruitment is $40,000 and if you’re a man who is starting to raise a family, this can go a long way towards your expenses. The exact amount of the enlistment bonus depends on which branch of service you will be training for – is it the Army, Navy, Air Force or the Marines? The length of your enlistment contract will also be taken into consideration.
Due to the hazardous nature of their job, military personnel are subject to more tax advantages than the average citizen. As mentioned earlier, most allowances are non-taxable and if you have special skills, this can easily make up 20% to 40% of your total income. Those who get stationed at combat zones can have their entire paycheck on a tax-free basis for the duration of the duty at that zone. There are some states which allow military members to avoid paying state income taxes under special circumstances, and many products and services for military personnel are offered on a tax-free basis as well.
6. Full medical coverage
Perhaps one of the biggest areas where military personnel can save money is on medical care. Members of the military can get free, comprehensive medical care – not just for themselves – but for their family members as well. If you’re a typical employee and you have a family member who has a chronic health condition, you would understand the value of this benefit. Members of the military can also receive free physical therapy, corrective surgery, supplements, medication, and other medical items.
7. Life insurance
Military personnel can purchase life insurance plans in $50,000 increments, up to $400,000. For the maximum amount of life insurance coverage, the payment that soldiers need to dole out is less than $30 per month. Soldiers can also buy coverage for their spouse and kids at very competitive rates.
8. Home loans with no down payment
Those who are still serving the military can save money on purchasing a home for their family through loans. The benefit of buying a home with no down payment is offered by the Veterans Office, for military personnel who have already left the service, or those who are still serving.
9. Travel opportunities
With US military installations in different parts of the world, soldiers can grab the opportunity to travel to different places. Depending on your position, the military can pay for you and your family to travel to your stationed installation. Most personnel are given 30 days of paid leave per year, depending on the nature of their individual jobs.
10. Military retirement
Finally, there’s military retirement to look forward to. A military officer who offered his service to the force for twenty years, for example, and earns more than $100,000 annually, can retire with a pension of more than $48,000 per year. This can start at the age of 42 – which is not old at all.
If you will serve until your golden age, you are bound to earn even more money once you finally retire. As a general rule, retirement pay increases by 2.5% every year, capped off at 100% after forty years of service. If you started your career in the military at a very young age, you can retire during your late forties, get your retirement benefits, and even manage to start another career.
But more than the financial benefits, joining the military will give you that membership into one of the world’s oldest clubs. Once you retire at a ripe age after serving the military for a good number of decades, you can be a veteran who can share stories with fellow veterans and young soldiers. Being a veteran is a label that nobody can ever take away from you.
If you work hard enough at it, serving in the military will gain you plenty of life experiences. While you’re at it, you can also enjoy the aforementioned financial benefits. These are just some of the reasons why you should seriously consider starting a career in the military.