Do People Join the National Guard and Military for the MONEY?

why people join the national guardWhy do people serve in the Army National Guard and U.S. Military?  When you ask Soldiers why they serve in the military you get a variety of responses such as patriotism, love of country, travel, the opportunity to get away from home, education opportunities, being part of a team, discipline, and many other reasons.  In fact, these were some of the same reasons that influenced my decision to join the Army.  While these are great reasons to serve in the military, I honestly believe that MONEY is also an important factor.

Now before you get upset and chew me out, I want you to hear me out for a minute.  Serving in the military is a wonderful way to serve your country and do everything mentioned above.  The military is a brotherhood (and sisterhood), and also is a time honored tradition.  But I question that most people who say they serve for one of these reasons mentioned above, would continue to serve in the military if they DID NOT GET PAID.  In other words, they wouldn’t do it for free (in most cases anyway).  You see, we all have basic financial needs.  And if those needs aren’t being met, most people would not continue their military service, even if they enjoyed the other aspects of the military.

UPDATE: Does everyone serve their country just for the money? Heck no. The military has TONS of good people, patriots and people with a strong calling to serve their country.  But I can guarantee the money does play a major role in their decision to continue their military career.  Sadly, few people will ever admit that the MONEY is part of their decision making process.  It’s as if they want you to think that the only reason they wear the uniform is because they are a patriot.

In addition, I recently learned that there are military organizations that DO NOT get paid. One example would be the Military Defense Force for each state. These members simply volunteer their time.  And another visitor mentioned, we all have primary and secondary reasons for EVERYTHING we do. So, all the things mentioned above play a role in our decision making process.


Heck, I spent 15 years in the Army and enjoyed my experience immensely.  I enjoyed the travel, belonging to a team, deploying overseas, the personal growth, the friendships, the camaraderie, and everything else.  I didn’t join the military to get rich, but the financial rewards were a big part of my reason to join the Army and continue my military service.  The opportunity to have a steady paycheck, earn a pension, good benefits, and earn money for my college education were very lucrative, and had a big impact in my decision to join/stay in the military.

Whenever I ask someone why they serve, they NEVER mention the word money.  But when I ask them if they would continue to serve if they didn’t get paid anything at all, 99.9% of the people tell me NO!  So obviously, the MONEY has a huge effect on WHY they serve.  And if that’s true, how come they never admit it when people ask them why they serve?

Please know I’m not writing this post to knock anyone.  I love my country and the military.  I just wish more people would be honest about the matter.  What are your thoughts on this subject?  Just leave a comment to share your thoughts.

22 thoughts on “Do People Join the National Guard and Military for the MONEY?”

  1. Of course this is a no-brainer. Even if money is not the primary reason that one would join the military, everyone needs to pay their bills! This is not said to diminish the sacrifices of those who serve in any way. I greatly admire those who serve in our military, ensuring that my basic freedoms remain intact. But the fact is that they need to eat too. I do not mind my tax dollars going to support those who are willing to protect my way of life.

  2. It is a no-brainer that everyone joins for the money. There is, of course, other reasons, but the money is very important! It should be. These men and women are taking a job that can be dangerous and difficult. I believe Obama should be giving them raises instead of trying to cut pay and benefits.

    I thank all service members even though you joined for the money. You still joined with the risk factors involved. I say give our military members raises!!

  3. Everyone serves for the money. Of course, that’s not their only reason for serving, but if they didn’t get paid, people wouldn’t serve. Even if someone loves their country, they still have bills to pay and a family to support. And when you compare military and government wages to most private wages, there is no comparison. Soldiers earn a good wage for their skillset, especially officers.

    1. Good point, Scott. Very few people will ever admit that they serve for the money, but it is a big factor in their decision making process. And I agree with you that the pay is pretty good.

  4. This is America nobody is gonna blame you for making an employment decision based on money. If you want a good military, they have to be professional. Rome paid their soldiers and they had a pretty good run. One thing I’m left wondering: How much does it pay? You don’t have to answer that specifically, but how would you compare it with any other job you could have gotten at the time? Nice post!

    1. CB,

      I don’t blame anyone for joining for the money! After all, that’s why most folks chose their current job. I think the pay is really good, especially for NCOs and Officers. For young soldiers, it is minimal, but they are teaching you a valuable job skill in the process and paying for your college education.


  5. Katelyn Hensel

    While money isn’t the main issue when choosing to enlist, it is definitely one of the key factors. Actually, I think the LACK of money is actually what really gets people. I have had friends who turned to the service, not only because they could be a part of something bigger than themselves, etc, but because they didn’t have a way to go to college otherwise. Not saying that that is a good reason, but the Armed Forces does do amazing things in the way of providing its soldiers with education

    1. Good point, Katelyn. For some folks the military really is the best option, especially in this economy. They teach you a skill and pay you while you do it. The pay is pretty decent, the benefits are great and the fact that you can retire after just 20 years is awesome.

  6. Money is a motivating factor for everyone in their job, and regardless of anything else, being a soldier is a job. It is actually more of a factor than most soldiers want to admit these days. So many of the new soldiers enlisting are doing so for the steady paycheck. It doesn’t make them less of a soldier, but most don’t want to seem greedy or unpatriotic.

    1. It’s not greedy to want money! I don’t think so anyway. People deserve to be compensated fairly. It might be a volunteer Army, but no one volunteered to work for free.

      Just my thoughts. Thanks for the comment.


  7. Money is definitely a motivating factor for everyone. The National Guard needs to offer reasonable compensation to get people to join up. I think people’s motivations vary – maybe someone with not many job prospects will sign up mainly for the money, but there are other people who could earn a better salary doing something else, but chose the National Guard because of a sense of duty to their country.

    1. Some people join the ARNG because of their sense of patriotism. I’ve also found that for most people the National Guard is a second career, not their primary income stream.

      Yes, you have to pay people fairly to attract quality people. And I think the National Guard pays people more than fairly for what they do, especially since their typical commitment is two days a month and a couple weeks a year.

  8. I think few people would join the military (particularly the reserve components) just for the money. There are easier ways to make as much or more money, after all. However, Louisiana offers full college tuition exemption (at public colleges in the state, of course) for Guard members in good standing, and plenty of guys with whom I’ve served have acknowledged straight up that they joined mostly for the college. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As long as they uphold their oath (and all the ones I knew did), why not trade service to the country for bettering themselves? After all, they also benefit the nation by getting a college education. I’ve also seen guys who swore up and down that they were getting out end up reenlisting for the bonus. (One guy did it because his wife wanted a new car.)

    1. The money is a powerful force for keeping people. When you compare the National Guard to any other part-time job that I can think of, we beat them by leaps and bounds. We get four days pay for two days work. We get the GI Bill, loan repayment, signing bonuses, tuition assistance, and access to affordable health care. Of course, not everyone will be eligible for all of those things, but most Soldiers can have access to at least some of those things. It really is a good deal when you look at it objectively.

  9. I agree with all of you on this. I have seen first hand how hard it can be for members of the military to be away from home for months in an effort to protect their homeland. It just seems like the moral and dedication to join the military to protect our freedom is dissipating. Remember when they used to have drafts? Now it’s a choice!

    1. Michelle,

      Good points, Michelle. It definitely is a voluntary Army and military. Paying people a good wage is one of the best ways to attract and keep quality people.

      Being away from home for months on end is very tough. My wife and I were apart 17 months straight. When I here people complain that there spouse is gone for a couple of days for work, I just have to pinch myself and laugh.


  10. Um, duh. Of course the people in our military are primarily heroes serving so the rest of us do not have to; this is very admirable. I agree with the comments posted by S. Kirkpatrick regarding primary and secondary motivators. Men and women in the military may serve out of a sense of responsibility and duty, but they have to buy groceries and gas like the rest of us! No one can afford to work for free.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree that everyone has to buy groceries and pay the bills, I’ve just never heard anyone ever mention the “money part” as one of their motivators for serving.

  11. We should first make a distinction between primary and secondary motivations. I joined because I love my country and wanted to do my part. If I could afford it, I would do it for free. That is simply not practical. I became a teacher because I love working with kids. If ask if I would do it for free, I’d say ‘yes’, but that is not true. I could not pay for my home or feed my family if I did. I could make more money as a table dancer too, but I did not choose to do that either. While money has to be part of the equation, it is not the primary reason, or I would have chosen another profession.
    I think the same is true for the military. People have to make a living and support their families, so money must be part of the equation. That does not mean it is the primary reason they chose to serve. Many M-day soldiers actually get paid less while serving than they make in their civilian jobs, yet they continue to serve.
    I do agree that many people join for the money and the benefits, but many could choose other careers that offer better pay and benefits. Yet because of other reasons (patriotism, pride) they chose to serve in the U.S. military. That is their primary motivation. You say, “I just wish more people would be honest about why they served in the military.” I think they are being honest. If you would have asked what “top five reasons people serve” money would be mentioned.
    Most decisions in life are not based on one, single reason. Neither is the choice to serve.

    1. Thanks for the response and thanks for your service. You are right, people do have primary and secondary motivations for everything they do in life. Like you, I served for a variety of different reasons: patriotism, serving the country and state, belonging to a team, and other reasons. Perhaps, I should have written the “top five reasons” people serve, just like you mentioned. In either case, I appreciate you visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. Have a great day.


  12. I serve in the Virginia Defense Force, the Commonwealth’s military reserve. As such, I have never received any pay whatsoever. I serve my community out of Christian duty and will be ready in times of crisis, disaster, or emergency.

    1. Don,

      Thanks for your selfless service. I appreciate it. I’ve always admired the Defense Force, since they volunteer countless hours and normally aren’t shown much appreciation. Your organization is one of the only ones I know of that people DO NOT get compensated for their time. That is true selfless service. I appreciate everything you and your peers do for our state and country. All the best.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!